TheGrill 2016: How Marketing Is Adapting to Mobile-First Consumers

“We transitioned to mobile … and saw traffic grow literally overnight,” YouNow’s Adi Sideman says

As mobile marketing currently enjoys a period of exponential growth, the new name of the game is engagement — deep engagement — executives in the field said on Tuesday at the 2016 edition of TheGrill, TheWrap’s annual entertainment and media conference at the Montage Beverly Hills.

“React” video series creators Benny and Rafi Fine (a.k.a. The Fine Brothers), VoteBlast CEO Ardy Falaki, YouNow CEO Adi Sideman and Seriously CEO Andrew Stalbow appeared on a panel where they discussed this brave new world.

The ability to gain and interpret real-time metrics, they agreed, gives mobile marketers a massive edge over traditional television and movie marketers.

“Fox doesn’t know who saw ‘Avatar,'” Stalbow said of the highest-grossing movie of all time. “Being directly connected to our audience is an amazing position to be in.”

“It helps us figure out how to make content people want to consume on their devices,” added Rafi Fine, who recalled observing user behavior shift dramatically over the past few years. “It’s amazing to literally see the ratio swap over time — now 70 percent of our users are on mobile and 30 percent are on laptops/desktops.”

The ad spend on mobile marketing is expected to grow to 32 percent of the global ad pie, or $84 billion, by 2020, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

One way the Fine Brothers engage audiences is to let fans choose an ending to a show. “We shot two different endings,” explained Rafi Fine about one project.

The Fine Brothers have also cultivated 175 of their show stars through the popularity of their franchise. “Every one of them literally are fans … 4,000 submissions to audition for a part came from the Los Angeles area alone — from millennials, teen fans. They come in crying and shaking,” he said of their excitement level.

“We transitioned to mobile in 2012, 2013 and saw traffic grow literally overnight,” said YouNow’s Sideman, who said added that consumption of his company’s live stream video chat product among teenage users is now 70 percent mobile. He argued that the prerequisite for creating a mobile company is first putting “strong social ecosystems” in place — for example, ones that “the broadcaster can push out with push notifications.”

“It’s about the power of being engaged anywhere you are,” said Falaki. “The quality is good now — audio, visual and also from a content perspective. There’s so much out there a typical TV doesn’t give you.”

As Sideman noted of YouNow’s user-incentive campaign, which has consumers vying to get on air as guest broadcasters, “People were leaning back, they were leaning forward, and now they literally want to jump in.”