I attended a recent marketing conference, where the speaker showed the above picture. This picture highlights an issue that is growing at almost all live events and is one of my greatest pet peeves.

At the top, we can see St Peter’s Square in Rome at the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. One person in a crowd of thousands is taking a picture while everyone else is focused on what is happening in front of them. Then we fast forward 8 years to 2013, where we have a very similar situation. Its the inauguration of Pope Francis and almost everyone in the crowd is filming on their mobile. Unfortunately this situation is replicated at almost every live event these days but is especially true for music concerts.

There was a time when people went to a concert and just enjoyed what was in front of them however, that time seems to have passed. Fans nowadays will queue for hours and pay ridiculous prices to attended their favourite artist’s event, only to watch the whole performance through their phones. Have we become so obsessed with tweeting, sharing and snapping that we can not take a break and simply enjoy a performance?

As far as technology has come, your phone is nowhere near as equipped at the professional’s who are paid to film the event so why not leave it to them. As a result of this obsession, Facebook and Youtube have become a dumping ground for distorted footage of unrecognisable artists just so people can tell their friends that they were there.

A recent study in this area shows that 31% of adults aged 18-34 use their phones during half of the show or more. More interesting stats from the study reveal that 23% use their phones to look up information about the artists.  More than 60% are interested in getting mobile notifications about merchandise offers, food, beverage and VIP access during an event and over 71% of males and 61% of females are interested in using their phone to purchase these things.

As a marketer, its very hard to ignore these statistics. Not only is smartphone usage high during these events but it also enables targeted advertising opportunities. Artists and bands typically have a distinct following in terms of age, interests and lifestyle. You are also provided with an exact time and place where this audience is going to be present and using their phones. The possibilities to target these users with promotional messages are endless and it won’t be long before someone begins to capitalise of these events.

Although completely banning phones from these events is unlikely, I do hope that a solution to the problem is found sooner rather than later. For now I urge concert goers to ditched the camera or phone, and make use of the best lens to experience a concert: the eyes and ears. Would you rather be able to describe the performance to your grandkids in vivid detail or show them a blurry digital version of the show? That’s up to you.