Commentary

Mobile Is In Our Hands, Not Yet In Our Heads

We live our lives mobile first, but often the media businesses and brands we interact with everyday are run mobile second. Maybe even mobile third or fourth. When Mary Meeker looked at the potential of the industry, she saw a $20 billion opportunity. While mobile revenues are growing, there’s still a canyon between what the industry could do, and what it is doing.

Mobile isn’t just a small “third screen,” it is the new digital.

Yet, I regularly find myself sitting across the table from buy-side and sell-side executives, needing to address the basics of mobile advertising.” The biggest mistake I see marketers make is using the same banner ad and landing page for the mobile Web as the PC Web. It’s an exponentially bigger mistake if the content is built in Flash, which doesn't work on most smartphones and tablets.

Just like you wouldn’t take a banner ad made for ordinary websites and use it as a social media ad, you shouldn’t take your PC banner ad and put it on mobile. It’s the equivalent of taking the social out of your social media campaign. It’s opportunity lost. Location-awareness, intimate gestures like swiping, and other mobile-only strengths match consumer expectation and shouldn’t be ignored.

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Like search, display, social, and video are all part of the interactive advertising marketplace, so is mobile—and on mobile you can do search, display, social, and video. It may feel unfamiliar and new, but it’s all part of the same game marketers and publishers are already expertly playing.

Even without cookies, mobile does have measurable ROI.

True, cookies are the go-to standard for targeting advertising, measuring performance, frequency capping, and many other advertising necessities. But cookies are limited on mobile Web, and nonexistent in mobile apps. But that doesn’t mean mobile is advertising Armageddon.

Mobile advertising can be targeted with precision, and display executions are as measureable as a webpage. Marketers and publishers can track basics like time spent with an ad, and details like how the consumer interacted with the various features of the rich media creative.

Performance can then be compared by channel to identify the context that provides the best performance. Similar capabilities are also possible using device profiling/fingerprinting, operating-system-based device identifiers, and the numerous other solutions companies are developing to help provide tracking and accountability.

In mobile, the learning never stops.

Connection speeds vary and change rapidly. Devices and operating systems differ in capabilities, and new ones with new specs come on the market and gain widespread adoption an unprecedented pace. When iOS6 was introduced, for example, advertisers could for the first time incorporate consumer photo uploads into their creative executions, and gained a whole new channel, Passbook, for delivering coupons, tickets, and other content to iPhones. Massive innovations like this didn’t happen as frequently when we were all getting accustomed to the original information super highway. One of the fundamental lessons of Mobile 101 is that the learning never stops, so keep your foot on the accelerator.

A lot of the onus is on the sell side to educate marketers and agencies about what they can do with mobile. Publishers and networks need to educate buyers about all they have to offer in mobile—from ad formats to measurement to relationships with vendors that offer the services and tools to achieve scale in the fragmented marketplace. Publishers have to sell it for marketers to buy it, and there’s enough mobile traffic now—nearly 30% of all Web traffic in North America—to make it worth everyone’s while.

The IAB is promoting this kind of education, like the IAB Mobile Marketplace April 11 in New York City. Mobile know-how is included in the Digital Media Sales Certification program—so sellers that don’t know how to sell mobile won’t get the certification.

It’s up to publishers and marketers to act on it themselves, to take the certification, go to educational events, and ultimately turn the $20 billion potential of mobile into the $20 billion mobile marketplace.

 

 

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