Like most media, mobile advertising has had to endure some difficult adolescent periods. It hasn’t been very pretty at times, and it has gone down some dead ends.
Its potential, while widely recognised, has sometimes been a bit hard to square with a half-formed reality.
But nowadays, we can see plenty of examples that justify the promise of mobile.
No-one needs to be reminded that consumers are spending more and more time on their mobiles, and that every brand has the opportunity to reach them there, if they know how. The question is how advertisers can do so successfully, and how to avoid being another bad brand for mobile users.
There is still plenty of bad out there. Website content exported thoughtlessly into mobile, with no consideration of mobile native behaviours such as swipes and taps, remains rife. Brands must be warned against signing up to anything that disrupts or slows down a user’s mobile experience, given that those who excel in mobile are those that take advantage of mobile-specific technology.
In the world of gaming, the gold-standard brand experiences are those that are unobtrusive, given that gamers choose to play in order to enjoy total escapism. So our aim is to build brand narratives into gaming experiences. Ads, so ubiquitous in real life, can add realism to virtual spaces. Bus-sides, ad shells, billboards in urban games can add authenticity and put brands in the story without interrupting it.
Brands don’t need to intrude rudely into a gamer’s consciousness in order to make an impression, and the unique environments mobile gaming offers are part of the reason why that is true. While mobile ad inventory may not disturb the user, a brand can impact their visual parameters repeatedly throughout sessions that often last for more than 15 minutes. The brand is guaranteed to have completed views, since gamers do not turn their attention away from the screen during gameplay. The data aggregated during gameplay also allows us to track how many people saw each ad for how long.
The companies which excel in mobile are those that take advantage of mobile-specific technology. Adding functionality that incorporates AR, VR, mobile camera filters and emerging technology native to mobile, has been shown to have a strong impact on users.
Metrics, too, are evolving. Every conversation should start with business outcomes. Instead of setting one measure of success, brands approaching mobile should pinpoint a variety of touchpoints, from online sentiment to conversion metrics, configured appropriately for each mobile channel.
With all new technology, it takes time to educate brands to the value of new metrics, such as accurate viewable time, in comparison to clicks. But the fact that we are no longer imagining a mobile ad space that might one day work, and instead refining one that offers real results to brands, is the ultimate metric of how far we, as a collective industry, have already come.