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Woman holding Apple iPhone 11 pro

A few weeks ago, January 9th to be exact, marked 15 years since Steve Jobs first introduced the original iPhone to the world. It was first billed as three products in one: an iPod with a touch screen, a cell phone, and an internet device to connect to the web. Since then, it has become so much more. It’s an extension of our everyday lives. The iPhone not only changed how we communicate with each other but changed the face of media and advertising all together.

For reference, I was born in 1981 and grew up in an exciting time before the internet and before smartphones. Actually, I didn’t get a phone until I was out of high school, I was maybe 19 or 20 years old. So, I do have some perspective of pre and post internet/smartphone worlds. Having said that, let’s take a quick look at the landscape back when the iPhone was introduced. It was 2007 and the following companies didn’t exist: Instagram, Uber, TikTok, Twitch, Snap, Lyft, DoorDash, Tinder, Postmates, Venmo and Pinterest. Wow, some big changes in just 15 years.

When I think about the impact iPhone has had on media and advertising, I break that down into three categories. Let’s take a look:

  1. Digital and Mobile Advertising – Back in 2007, mobile advertising spending had an annual total of roughly $1.7 billion. Today mobile ad spending is north of 140 billion annually. Although mobile advertising is just one spoke in the digital advertising wheel, it now makes up about half of all the digital ad spend. That makes sense when you think about the recent growth in ad revenue for social platforms like Facebook & Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Google. The introduction of iPhone and smartphones have kept users connected to the web 24/7, 365. At the same token, allowing them to be targeted by digital and mobile advertisers whenever and wherever they go.
  2. Communication and Entertainment – Today we use our phones to stay in touch and get our news in real time. This has significantly changed the way our country reacts to everything from politics to the latest trends on social media. It has also changed the way we are targeted and advertised to. With native advertising, we get a seamless experience of receiving advertisements while we are consuming our favorite content and they blend right in, trying to make it the least intrusive experience as possible. More and more people are watching TV and using streaming apps like Hulu and Netflix when it comes to getting entertainment. Large cable companies are noticing consumers cutting the cord, especially the younger generations like Gen Z. They simply consume content and have different beliefs than generations before them. This lends a challenge to marketers and advertising professionals; how do they reach this new type of consumer in the future. Using smartphones and advertising via social and digital platforms will certainly be key but gaining knowledge about the consumer will be essential. That brings us to our next category, data!
  3. Consumer Data – I purposely saved this point for last because let’s face it, when it comes to the future of digital and mobile advertising, data is king. Data about consumers, their values, location, and behaviors will be what advertisers base the next few years of strategy, planning, and budgets on. Over the past 15 years we have carried around several versions of the iPhone or the smartphone of our choice. All the while giving companies and large social platforms all the data in the world about us. What we consume, what we purchase, where we shop, who we communicate with, our race, age, gender, income, search history, and you get the idea. Whether we like it or not, this little iPhone has been a tracking device for all of our most important, personal information. As much as I think there will be changes in the future, I believe consumer privacy concerns will be a constant. We have already noticed the “opt-in” messages on apps and social media platforms. This may have an impact on advertising but like everything else we will learn and adapt

In the next few years, I expect digital and mobile ad spending to continue to increase and the push for innovation and new tech will be the focus. One thing the Apple iPhone did over the past 15 years was create competition and it really took the mobile and tech industry to a new level.

Having an iPhone or a smartphone in our pocket means we have access to everything right at our fingertips. We connect, we search, we communicate, and we solve. I look at iPhone as the ultimate solution. Sky is the limit when it comes to advertising opportunities and smartphone capabilities over the next 15 years!

Written by:
Bob Freas
Social Media Specialist