Charles Ogilvie

2019: The age of mobile agility and the effects on the PR and advertising industry


Asia, the US and Europe, and in fact all global markets share the same trend towards: “Mobile Agility”. Mobile agility allows consumers access to information no matter where they are. Singapore is inherently unique in that the connectivity permeates across the island at both higher speeds and availability levels as it does in other places with more land mass. Either way, this technology makes it possible for consumers to go everywhere and do anything with the help of connected apps and IoT devices. From voice assistants like Alexa to Google to Connected Car Ecosystems, Mobile Agility technologies make every aspect of modern life easier.

Advertisers and PR professionals are keen to utilise these technologies to find new ways of reaching out to their target audiences, benefiting both consumers and the brands. Let’s take a look at the ways in which 2019 will be the age of Mobile Agility and assess what this change means for the advertising and PR industry.

As most are aware, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia have yet to see the penetration rates that will be coming on voice assistants, but what’s going on globally is highly relevant across ASEAN and into China and other parts of North Asia. We are waiting for more language implementations from some devices/platform providers, but then should see astronomical spikes in usage.

Always-on voice assistants
Always-on voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home ensure that people always have access to the internet and control over the connected devices in their homes, even when they are not holding their smartphone or tablet. These devices allow people to seamlessly move between offline and online interactions.

Recently, news reports announced keep speculating what new features Amazon is considering adding onto its’ platform. Advertising on the Alexa system won’t involve blasting customers’ ears with blatant advertisements. Instead, brands may see unique placement opportunities in context and in a way that is relevant and acceptable to the consumer.

Amazon has not yet confirmed that rumors of advertising on Alexa are true, but companies need to ensure they have a strategy in place for marketing via voice assistants. They should already be actively experimenting with the technology, use cases and ready as this market changes. With always-on voice systems becoming increasingly popular, businesses need to optimise their presence and data for voice and natural language processing.

Connected car ecosystems
Connected car ecosystems allow people to continue to connect online while they are driving or riding in a car. As of 2016, there were already 15 million connected cars on the road, and that amount is expected to rise to 69 million in 2020. During 2019, many people will purchase vehicles with connected car ecosystems for the first time and begin using their voice communication and infotainment systems. As a result, marketers may have an opportunity to reach out to consumers during their daily commute to work or school. Playing a song has never been easier, but now playing a song in context with an advert targeted specifically towards you is possible.

It gets better. As many know, Google’s Waymo has been testing autonomous vehicles in Singapore that take Connected Car Ecosystems even a step foreword. This is an area for us to all watch keenly around safety, security and cyber threat mitigation, in addition to all the compelling features that come along.

Existing connected car ecosystems have six core functions to assist drivers: interaction, driving, management, data and voice communications, infotainment, and safety and security. For example, safety systems may automatically act to slow the car down when it gets too close to the vehicle in front. Technologies like this can help give drivers a safer and more relaxing journey. At the same time, infotainment systems are becoming more sophisticated. Drivers can search for their favorite songs or podcasts using voice commands alongside vehicle health monitoring data, upcoming road conditions and real-time weather radar updates.

As for those busy professionals who do not stop working even when they are on the go, voice-activated interactive systems allow them to communicate with coworkers, organise their schedules or search for urgently needed information online.

Given how much time the average consumers spend in their cars, it is vitally important for advertisers to understand and become familiar with the connected car ecosystem. As the car becomes just another platform via which people can connect online, advertisers and PR professionals may find opportunities to engage with their target audiences through increasing more feature rich forms of mobile agility.

Smart elevators
Consumers’ connected experience does not necessarily end when they pull into the parking lot or car park outside their place of work. Smart elevators can interact with people using voice commands or one touch IDs, which means people simply need to say which floor they want to visit or touch their badge. Over the next few years, elevators may even be equipped with the technology to recognise people and automatically know their destination, much like taxi drivers now know where people want to go before they get into the vehicle thanks to information sent via the rideshare app or other projected destination ID techniques.

The wealth of data that systems are able to automatically gather about consumers could bring huge benefits for the advertising and PR industry. By profiling their consumers more accurately, advertisers can gather data that allows them to target consumers with ads that are more relevant to their interests and therefore more likely to be useful to the target audience.

The human element will still exist
One must not forget the Human Element that stands independent of technology: that is people. It reminds me of my first son being born in Singapore 5 years ago. As all with all new parents, our first years’ experience is entirely new, exciting, and completely non-reliant on technology at every step.

Little to our knowledge, but a Singaporean celebrity couple and their newborn shared a common waiting room with us in Singapore. Unlike waiting in a playroom with herds of fans, the celebrity and my wife enjoyed exchanging peeks of their newborns and we all shared digital free moments in Singapore, congratulating the couple on their new arrival and them on ours.

My point is that despite the thrill of technology and the digital connections it enables, there is a human side to life that won’t go away despite technology’s prevalence in virtually every nook and cranny. Even superstars take time to be human, and I have great respect for them and their desire to parent well. There are many more parents across Singapore, Asia, the US, Europe and the rest of globe who share the same desires.

This is despite Singapore, Korea, and the US are some of the most widely and comprehensively digitally connected places in the world and China, Indonesia, Malaysia and parts of Latin America are rising rapidly in terms of volumes and capabilities.

Change is coming… and soon
Currently, the advertising and PR industry is on the cusp of a revolution regarding the way it is able to interact with consumers. It is very likely that next year, 2019, will signal the onset of the widespread adoption of Mobile Agility. In order to stay well ahead of the competition, advertisers need to start thinking carefully right away about how they can capitalise on this important change in communication technology.

Of course, no one is able to predict exactly how exactly Mobile Agility will change the face of advertising and PR. With huge but as yet uncertain opportunities on the horizon, PR and advertising professionals need to remain as agile and flexible as possible to respond to the challenges and changes that lie ahead. This attitude can help businesses to succeed and rise above their competitors in the age of Mobile Agility, which has already begun and is predicted to begin to peak in 2019 or 2020, unless disrupted again, and then to continue exponentially for many years to come.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Charles Ogilvie

Charles Ogilvie

As Head of Innovation at JWT Atlanta, Charles Ogilvie brings more than 20 years of global experience in innovation, spanning from retail and hospitality technology, mobile, satellite and terrestrial communications, aviation, FinTech and interactive platform architecture, content & analytics to traditional entertainment. In addition to client-side agency management, Charles has also developed, negotiated and executed interactive content deals with major brands such as Google, Land Rover, Virgin Atlantic and others.

Previously, he has served multi-million dollar startup and corporate efforts, including leading the design and execution of the award winning guest-engagement system, Red, as the Founding Director of Inflight Entertainment & Partnerships at Virgin America. He brought Seatback Food and Drink Ordering, payment processing and settlement and a cashless cabin to the skies, made seat upgrades, lounge access upgrades, and seat changes and other reservation system functionality easier on Virgin’s hospitality kiosks and on other platforms, made WiFi an expectation as well as a tool for crew optimization, and helped rethink legacy B2C and B2B models.

He has held numerous executive roles including VP Asia Pacific at Zodiac Aerospace Inflight Innovations, Executive Director of Business Development in Silicon Valley and Executive Director of China at Panasonic Avionics. At Panasonic, he was responsible for running Panasonic Avionics’ China Region and developing and managing its’ strategy for China and was posted in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore.

A graduate of the University of Southern California (USC)’s Marshall School with both an IBEAR MBA and a BS in Business Administration. Charles has been through Jack Welch’s Leadership program at the Jack Welch School of Management and has had the pleasure of learning from Warren Bennis at USC.

Charles speaks Mandarin Chinese and has both a strong domestic and international focus. 

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