Marketers are finally embracing a "mobile-first" ethos as they hurry to catch up with consumers. But with consumer behaviour and technologies evolving so quickly, it can be difficult to determine what mobile even means, much less how to make the most of it. Luckily, there are a few timeless principles that marketers can build on as they learn to put mobile first. In this month's Creative Shortlist, Rei Inamoto, CCO of AKQA, shares these tenets of exemplary digital work in mobile along with five projects that bring them to life.

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This edition's guest curator is Rei Inamoto, CCO and vice president of AKQA.

Once upon a time, the world was digital.

As the marketing industry scrambled to catch up with a world gone digital, the world sped up and went social. And while marketers were—and still are—frantically trying to be friends with everyone and create the next most-shared selfies and tweets, the world went mobile, packing both digital and social into every consumer's palm.

"Mobile first" is a phrase finally taking hold among marketers in 2014, years after the consumer world went mobile.

So what is "mobile"? That's the existential question, and it's come up again and again.

Ten years ago, mobile meant making phone calls on the move. It then became about texting and emailing from anywhere, anytime. Then taking, sending and sharing photos. And now videos and apps. And then there is the form factor to consider. Is it a smartphone? A tablet? A wearable? Are these all considered "mobile"?

The specific behaviour and devices will keep evolving, but there are three basic, essential principles of mobile marketing that won't:

  1. Portable: Your idea must be able to go where the user goes. If it can’t follow the user through his or her day, it's not mobile.
  2. Personal: The promise of digital was always and will always be its potential for personalisation. Your idea must cater to the individual needs and desires of every user – and the experience must be unique to her.
  3. Perpetual: Your idea has to stand the test of time – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – because mobile is always on. The first thing you reach for in the morning is probably a mobile device. At the office. On your lunch break. Curled up on your couch at home. Even when you're sleeping, your mobile device is with you and on.

If you're aiming for "mobile first" with your idea (and you probably should be), ask yourself this question: Is it portable, personal and perpetual? Only by meeting all three criteria can it truly be made for mobile.

Check out the five examples below – ideas that are truly and uniquely made for mobile, bringing the "three Ps" to life in innovative, mobile-first ways.

#1 Smart Textbooks

Perhaps the biggest idea on the smallest surface that has a definite benefit to society – and to the next generation.

#2 L'Oreal Makeup Genius

An app that is useful, usable and delightful.

#3 Written in the Stars

AKQA's own work. Using technology in an emotive and human kind of way.

#4 Nike Training Club

Another piece of our own work. The most successful fitness and training app in the world. It’s the connective tissue for the world’s biggest training gym.

#5 Toyota Backseat Driver

An idea that seems obvious. One of those "duh, why didn't I think of that?" concepts.