Why Brands Should Expect More, and Better, in Mobile

Consumer behavior online is changing dramatically. In January 2011, only three percent of Web traffic came from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. One year later, 16 percent of the traffic to our 15,000 publishers’ Web sites was mobile. Using current rates of growth, we project that by January 2013, at least 25 percent of Web traffic will come from mobile devices. The move to mobile opens great possibilities for brand relevance and consumer engagement.

In the rush to capitalize on this new medium, few brands have made full use of the unique advantages offered by mobile, and some vendors have even undermined long-term success by clinging to less beneficial display-centric strategies.

The average click-through rates for Web display is about 0.09%, yet the industry is seeing 0.65% average click-through rates on mobile (according to Google display and Jumptap mobile indexes). So is mobile naturally and permanently superior?

Most new advertising media enjoy high response rates during a consumer “honeymoon” period. This was true of basic Web banners 15 years ago. Mobile’s high rates are likely to fall unless the consumer experience continues to improve.



The vast majority of today’s non-search mobile advertising is irrelevant to consumers’ actual interests. There is very little targeting in today’s mobile ad offerings, so the vast majority of campaigns provide little differentiation, relevance, or impact for brands.

In an effort to make mobile ads perform better, some providers are bringing controversial techniques from the display space to the mobile ecosystem. There is an increasing movement toward the use of cookies and consumer tracking on mobile devices, accompanied in recent months by the well-publicized “bending” of privacy walls.

Such approaches are unnecessary. The unique characteristics of the mobile platform offer a wealth of proven opportunities, which have hardly been fully explored. Brands should challenge vendors to make use of the best the platform has to offer.

Four strategies stand out:

Consumer Relevance: Being relevant today is a big differentiator for mobile advertising, and will make a brand stand out. There are several mobile-unique ways that brands can be relevant. One key is to strive to be relevant to the content within which the ads are shown. Our focus on editorially aligned, brand-oriented ads has brought click-through rates of 3.4% or better.

Immersion: Unlike the cluttered desktop, today’s mobile experiences are focused and inherently immersive. The consumer engages with just one key task at a time, and typically that task makes use of the entire screen. Full-screen mobile ad experiences do quite well. A proven key to success in this area is to add value to the consumer’s task, which earns the advertiser the right to deliver a more fully immersive ad experience.

Geotargeting: While sophisticated geotargeting of mobile ads is often mentioned, little is actually practiced. There are technical, privacy, and scale limitations, but they should not stand in the way of progress. Roughly 50 percent of mobile Web access can be qualified by location (region and city level) without infringing on users. Regional retail circulars and automotive promotions are accessible today. Brands can provide higher relevance now, while the industry solves scale for more sophisticated approaches.

Social: Mobile devices are first and foremost socially connected communication devices. We need only make note of some dominant usage patterns -- mail, Facebook, texting, Twitter and, oh by the way, an occasional phone call. Many advertisers and mobile ad providers seem to forget this, leading them to approach the medium as if it were the Web. Mobile campaigns that invite active sharing will have significantly more impact than their inert counterparts. Brands should strive for share-worthy content in ads, and should make use of mobile devices’ easy, built-in sharing mechanisms.

Brands need to guide vendors toward the best usage of mobile. Without this guidance the industry risks simply replicating the audience and cookie techniques popularized by Web display in recent years, instead of making use of the unique marketing opportunities that are inherent to the mobile experience.

3 comments about "Why Brands Should Expect More, and Better, in Mobile".
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  1. Marielle Hanke from Cloud Nine Media, June 25, 2012 at 2:35 p.m.

    Great article Ammiel. My company Cloud Nine Media runs 100% share-of-voice, full-page WiFi sponsorship campaigns in airports and hotels across the country - our campaigns run on laptops, tablets and smartphones. Consumers engage with a 30s sponsorship message and get free, unlimited WiFi in return. From our experience, immersion and consumer relevance stand out most: we see an average CTR on mobile of >10%.

  2. Heather Sears from Sense Networks, June 25, 2012 at 4:28 p.m.

    Great points. We are also seeing impressive results through working across your categories of Consumer Relevance & Geotargeting. We extract behavioral information from location data and apply predictive analytics to deliver highly targeted mobile offers. And it is possible to do this in a privacy safe way - a very important element as you mention. Our method includes making data anonymous, discarding raw data, giving consumers clear opt-outs, etc.

  3. Ammiel Kamon from Kontera, June 26, 2012 at 5:58 p.m.

    Thanks Marielle and Heather. Glad to hear the article struck a cord with you.

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