KEY POINTS

  •  Mobile users want information delivered to their phones in a more convenient, sophisticated, and personalized way. The days of searching a keyword in a desktop search browser are long gone. More and more, consumers expect their devices and apps to anticipate their needs. 
  • The mobile experience has become cluttered, and customized services can streamline it. Mobile users have an average of 33 apps downloaded to their devices and launch at least eight apps daily. In turn, they spend some 2 1/2 hours per day within apps. There's a huge opportunity for apps that can make it easier to access the information and services you need, without a lot of effort. 
  • There's a boom underway in consumer usage of apps that help them customize their smartphone experience. On Android, personalization apps saw a 1,325% increase in user sessions between early 2013 and early 2014. 
  • A wide array of mobile technologies are already on the market, each capable of offering personalized features and services: app launchers, custom lock screens, smart personal agents, intelligent personal assistants (e.g., Google Now), and task automation tools. But the biggest market for personalization is probably within specific apps — technologies and algorithms that can help show users information tailored to their specific needs. 
  • Personalization usage and demand is skyrocketing. Android app-launcher sessions are exploding, Google Now is available on nearly 1 billion devices, and several companies are looking to imitate Apple's Siri. The app If This Then That, or IFTTT, which automates tasks across apps — for example, it emails you a copy of every picture you upload to Instagram — has seen its "recipes" grow 80% since adding mobile support. 
  • Finally, there is a massive marketing opportunity in personalization. The same technologies that can power personalized information and notifications within apps can be used to customize the ads shown to app users and mobile Web surfers. This is the kind of individualized hypertargeting that is marketers' Holy Grail. Marketers need to better understand how end users are implementing personalization, and how to be engaging without being intrusive.

Introduction

The way consumers discover and absorb information has transformed dramatically thanks to mobile devices. Their expectations have also changed radically. 

The Web browser and the search engine [...]