Making the Most of Mobile: How to Fully Harness the Creative Opportunities in Mobile Advertising

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Making the Most of Mobile: How to Fully Harness the Creative Opportunities in Mobile Advertising


With global internet usage predicated to be 75% mobile in 2017 (Zenith, Mobile Advertising Forecasts 2016) advertisers that aren’t thinking ‘mobile-first’ are going to find themselves well and truly behind the competition. The predictions for digital spend on mobile advertising are, not surprisingly, estimated to be 55-60% by 2019 as the advertising budget follow the users – here at Adform we are already seeing some European markets’ programmatic spends across mobile and tablet devices cross the 50% threshold.


With significant amounts of advertising budget focused on reaching users on their mobile devices, how do advertisers get most ‘bang for their buck’ when planning their messaging and creative?


A very obvious first step towards becoming a master of mobile marketing, is to start making videos and banners in the right sizes and aspect ratio for mobile environments and optimize the creative as much as possible to the environment for which they are intended.


This sounds a rather condescending point, however for asset creation, advertising in mobile environments is still too often an afterthought; key mobile creative sizes are frequently missed out as part of standard banner and video outputs – desktop assets are frequently ‘repurposed’ to ‘cover’ mobile on web environments, often without optimizing these creatives for the smaller screen size, and ignoring some in-app opportunities entirely. Similarly, video assets are often repurposed from other channels and not tailored to the device.


The mobile consumer increasingly expects frictionless experiences and is inherently impatient. Experiences that aren’t optimized for them are going to increase user drop-off and disengagement (even with something as seemingly insignificant as needing to rotate the device.) The onus is squarely on businesses to deliver their services, content and advertising in the most optimum way, without any prerequisite conditions and without additional effort from the audience. Mobile video should be built vertically in portrait format vs. landscape formats, acknowledging the natural device orientation in the user’s hand. Your customers shouldn’t have to do anything to make your advertising bigger or better.


One of the outcomes of treating mobile as an ‘afterthought’ when planning creative is that in-app environments are largely ignored or deprioritized. Apps are where mobile audiences spend the majority of their time, and in-app advertising offers some of the most brand-safe and premium opportunities, with formats that are highly viewable and highly engaging.


From a more nuanced creative point when planning for mobile, differences in user mind-set should be taken into consideration for creative relevancy and resonance as well. Mobile web traffic is often triggered by searches or social-media referrals, so search and content keywords should be aligned with creative themes to improve performance and capitalize on any ‘moments of need’. In-app users, on the other hand, are largely seeking utility, content or entertainment, so tailoring creative and planning by ‘category’ or ‘partner’ should be considered. For instance, trying different messaging for advertising on a travel app, vs. a dating app.


For increasing user relevance even further, 1st party audience data should be the starting point when it comes to creative planning and messaging. It is also worth overlaying 2nd or 3rd party data sources with your 1st party segments to find opportunities to personalize or customize the content experience.


An example would be when a customer’s location can indicate they are in a desired target audience, but also you can use this to provide directions within an ad unit to a physical location to drive footfall, or use the local weather conditions to inform a creative choice. Locations can also indicate a physical need or behavioral intent, as can historical behavior or search queries. All these can be fed into the creative to optimise the message to the user. For example, knowing someone is a frequent UK customer and they are currently in France, you can inform them of overseas services, or having known that someone browsed a product on your website at home in the evening, can direct them to their nearest shop when they are at work during the day with a sale or coupon incentive.


There are a lot of unique advertising mobile tactics that cannot be similarly executed with other media options. The ‘always-on’ connectedness and GPS capabilities of such a portable device allows the collection of the physical location and travel patterns of the device and user in real-time, in a way that desktop and print media (both are arguably relatively ‘portable’ and ‘mobile’) cannot.


Using some of the other technical features of the mobile device, such as the compass, gyroscope and camera features can also create personal, physically interactive and immersive experiences in relation to the user’s environment - again desktop or other screen-based mediums like TV cannot currently replicate this. Mobile can harness physical interaction with a 360 video experience on mobile, and AR & VR experiences that can overlay creative effects on live moving images and on surroundings e.g. Blippar & Snapchat. Some digital out of home providers are doing incredible AR & VR work using in-screen cameras, but they cannot match the accessibility and scale of this type of activity on a mobile device and we expect that the advance of mobile technology will drive more of these capabilities to feature in programmatic rich media advertising solutions in 2017.


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