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Brian Wong is the CEO and co-founder of mobile rewards startup Kiip.

“Marketing is all about owning the moment.”

Those words come from Adam Bain, Twitter’s chief revenue officer. While he was talking about Twitter’s approach to making money, I believe his statement is particularly relevant for the mobile channel.

The concept of moments is starting to pick up steam in the industry. Even the company that ushered in the smartphone era is diving in. While it got lost in the midst of iOS 7’s facelift, I was particularly excited by Jony Ive’s new approach to organizing photos by years, collections and — you guessed it — moments.

Mobile opens an incredibly powerful medium to reach users throughout their day. Moments are this medium. Let’s dive deeper into the moments taking place on mobile and how brands can get in on the action.

[VentureBeat will be diving deep into the state of mobile advertising at our Mobile Summit event next month. Request an invite here!]

Understanding the Moment

To succeed on mobile, brands need to understand consumption habits on the phone. The smartphone is so closely connected to our lives, so we use it based on our needs. To cite a few examples:

  • When we wake up, we go on a run and track our time.
  • When we’re bored, we play a game and level up.
  • When we’re feeling productive, we tackle our to-do list.
  • When we discover a new song, we add it to a playlist.
  • When we’re planning dinner, we bookmark a recipe.

These everyday moments are meaningful actions that carry powerful emotion and a sense of accomplishment. Consumers are naturally happy in these moments, and there are literally billions of them occurring on mobile. Last year at Kiip, we tracked more than two billion moments in 2013 alone in all kinds of apps, from fitness and health to cooking and gaming.

Our digital lives are overstuffed with moments where brands can play a meaningful part, but marketers must remember to respect the moment.

Abusing the Moment

Brands and advertisers are guilty of taking old ways of thinking and applying it to this new medium. The conventional (and lazy) approach assumes that because mobile has a smaller screen, the same ad can simply be borrowed from the web and shrunk in size.

Mobile marketing is not about real estate, however, it’s about adding value by tapping into patterns of existing behavior. Brands too often make the mistake of forcing consumers to align with them: If you watch this video about our product and tweet about us, we’ll enter you into these sweepstakes.

That’s altering consumer behavior, asking them to go out of their way to do something they have little interest in doing. Too much of mobile advertising forgets the human element. Take a human approach in your mobile marketing efforts.

Owning the Moment

The beauty of the moment from a marketer’s perspective is that it allows them to leverage emotional highs, where consumers are more receptive to brand engagement. This is the ideal context for delivering the right message that can help acquire customers and increase loyalty, whether it is a product sample, digital coupon, reward that reciprocates their achievement or other form of engagement.

One key to owning the moment is to keep engagement serendipitous — that is, unexpected. When a husband surprises his wife with a bouquet of flowers, it’s much more effective than if she expects it. In mobile advertising, it’s really easy to settle for a banner ad, but that squanders an opportunity to make a meaningful connection.

I invite you to take the unexpected route and be the gentleman to your audience. Capture the moment on mobile.

Brian Wong is CEO and co-founder of Kiip, a mobile rewards network named one of the world’s 50 Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company. Brian is one of the youngest people to ever receive venture capital funding and has been named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for three years running.

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