While users spend roughly 1/3 of all web traffic on their smartphones, mobile advertising spend represents less than 15% of total digital ad spend. With our eyes increasingly locked to our smartphones, there’s a pervasive certainty that this spend gap will eventually close. The timing, however, is significantly less certain. Mobile advertising is host to a series of challenges that make it far more complex than the desktop world and despite the massive growth in the sector, even the top marketers have struggled to develop a sophisticated approach to their mobile marketing strategy.
Given the countless combinations of devices, operating systems and mobile browsers, as well as the limited viewing space available on most smartphones, developing and distributing quality mobile campaigns is significantly more difficult than the same on desktop. Mobile marketers need to attempt to make the
limited real estate they have available attractive, and often struggle to do so in terms of creativity and targeting. Mobile’s evolving and fragmented architecture has made consumer targeting significantly more challenging than in the desktop world (where 3rd party cookie sharing enables more developed means of targeting ads), and while technology is adapting to these needs, privacy concerns present significant risks to those attempting to wade in the areas of mobile targeting. The only thing worse than an irrelevant ad, is one that’s a gigantic generic banner disrupting the UI of an otherwise pleasant smartphone experience.
Technology can provide tools to help solve some of these issues, but marketers need to rise to the challenge of exploring the capabilities of these tools if they want to engage users in the mobile realm. Users have a different experience with their smartphone than their TV or desktop computer. They expect the experience to be interactive and marketers need to hold their ads to the same standards as other pieces of published content if they expect to gain the
customer’s interest. Again, this isn’t done through boring display ads, but through more interactive, rich and native experiences (c.f. Vungle, ShareThrough, Sailthru, Buzzfeed, Carnival Labs). Marketers can use these and other innovative technology providers to make sure that the ad gets in front of the right user to learn from their likes and preferences over time. While not all users will LOVE ads, making them more fun and creative enables greater brand perception, while improving the likelihood for user conversion. As Jason Baptiste (CEO of Onswipe) said at a recent panel, “Brands need to start acting like content publishers if they want to be successful in mobile advertising… This isn’t just a mobile first strategy, it’s an everything first strategy.”
While technology infrastructure of mobile marketing will continue to learn and evolve, brands need to step up to the challenge of creating quality content to engage users on mobile devices. While this isn’t easy, engaging targeted users with quality content in the context where they can make a direct purchase (either through their phone or at a nearby location) is truly the holy grail of marketing efficacy. As marketers become increasingly more comfortable with digital advertising, brand dollars will hopefully flow from TV to desktop to mobile. The purchasing decisions of these brands will ultimately drive the speed and director of this market and, as Nihal Metha of Local Response recently noted: “As soon as we get the folks who are buying TV time to start buying mobile advertising, that’s when we know we’ve made it.”
For forward thinking brand marketers looking to sink their teeth into customers, it’s time to take the bite on mobile marketing.