Commentary

IAB Rising Stars: Go Big Or Get Lost


I’m rarely shy when someone in this business asks for a comment. So now that the IAB is assessing comments on its mobile and tablet Rising Star units (due Aug. 16), I have more than a few to share with you now.

These units address some critical creative issues in this business, and they deserve a lot more enthusiasm than they’re getting. Full disclosure: We did not have an entry in this competition. My interest here is in creating more “wow” factor for digital marketing. We need to go big or get lost.

More importantly for the purposes of this column, my interest is in pointing out that these new units sync very well with the importance of engaging affluent consumers, the audience that is increasingly shopping directly from their mobile devices. They also sync well with the concept of “affluence.”

I’m going to steal from new age uberguru Eckhart Tolle. He talks about “the power of now.”

When it comes to these new mobile and tablet units, I think about “the power of wow.” If you haven’t seen them in action, I urge you to. They have been tested by many brands (Coca Cola among them) and they put a lot of energy into banners, at the top of the list.

The rest of them sound like Olympic sports, and actually they have more energy than some Olympic sports. Here I’m talking about the Filmstrip, Mobile Full Page Flex, Mobile Pull and Mobile Slider.

Suffice to say that they add visual excitement and interactivity to the mobile category. We need it. At this point in the digital advertising lifecycle, we are obsessed about targeting and viewability. These ad units explode both concepts into a new dimension. Now, some more specific comments and my promised connection to marketing to affluents:

Content: The Rising Star units will cater very well to content rich sites, and content rich sites are passion points. Affluent customers, in our experience, go to the Internet to engage with their passions whether it’s wine, travel, money or philanthropy. These new executions can match the passion with interaction and excitement. Portal sites won’t do as well with them as premium content sites. My comment: That’s just fine. Portals can focus on viewability and targeting. Premium content sites can focus on passion, engagement and single share of voice just as TV ads do.

Rich Mobile: Affluent customers are mobile and engaged. The Luxury Institute’s survey of Americans with an annual income of at least $150,000 (released June 1) showed that 60% owned a smartphone, of which more than 80% had downloaded an app. According to the most recent Ispos-Mendelson barometer, 25% of the $250k+ audience now owns a tablet, a figure that has essentially doubled over the past year. “Affluencers” are early adopters, ahead of the curve, and in our experience, have a high “wow” threshold. But they respond well to innovative breakthroughs like the iPad, and they will respond to these new ad units.

Brand appeal: If you’re high-end brand and you think simple targeting is going to win and engage an audience, think again. The media needs to match the sophistication of the audience. These new units can make that happen. Bigger magazine books allow glossy, beautiful two-dimensional ads to capture the experience. IAB Rising Stars allow three dimensions for brands to act like publishers and offer compelling content rather than a static image.

Engagement: For me, engagement is still the overriding metric for digital marketing. There’s no better case for the quick adoption of these new units than a recent study released by the Interactive Advertising Bureau UK showed that interactive ads on tablets generate much better response rates than static tablet ads. Over half of the respondents said they had a positive overall opinion of interactive ads (54%). Static ads got only half that amount of positive feedback with 27%. In addition, 45% of survey participants said they expect their favorite brands to advertise on tablets. 47% agreed that advertising on tablet computers is the "future of advertising."

I’ll buy that. The future is in smartphones and tablets. These new IAB units can communicate the excitement, complexity and sophistication of high-end brands. They represent the richest media on the richest devices.

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1 comment about "IAB Rising Stars: Go Big Or Get Lost".
  1. Eric Conn from Gloto , August 20, 2012 at 3:09 p.m.
    I echo your sentiments Skip and was excited to see some of the cool formats being proposed by the IAB. Many of the technical limitations that had been impeding innovation in digital advertising are being lifted and the time is ripe to engage consumers with highly interactive and personalized experiences that drive results for advertisers. Several of our larger publishing and technology clients are experimenting with sophisticated formats (web and mobile) and the results so far have been promising. There's even talk about selling them on a CPE basis once the key performance parameters are better understood. Full Disclosure: Gloto does not have an entry in the IAB Rising Stars competition although we would have liked to.