Content Marketing: The Solution to the Mobile Advertising Challenge

We live in a world where the only connected devices that truly remain stationary are the televisions mounted on our walls (not counting our refrigerators, dishwashers and thermostats, but that’s another subject altogether).  Mobile adoption continues to surge. Mobile web traffic has grown 50% over the past year, and is set to surpass desktop traffic in the not too distant future. The 2014 Digital Consumer Report from Nielsen noted that on average, US adults spend 34 hours per month on the mobile web -- almost 26% more time than on desktop.

Yet as the population continues its transition to mobile, the advertising industry struggles to catch up, and marketers seem to always be left wondering how to reach the contemporary, always-connected and on-the-go consumer.

One thing we do know is that users tend to have a higher expectation for advertising on their mobile devices, and rightfully so. For many of us, our phone or tablet is the first and last thing we engage with every day, making the connection to these gadgets increasingly personal.  Because of this, unexpected experiences are not only unwelcome, but they can also seem exponentially more obtrusive and disruptive than they might otherwise.



Mobile content consumption is different from desktop browsing.  Mobile is predominantly an entertainment medium versus the productivity mode the personal computer lends itself to.  That being said, wouldn’t it follow that we should be looking for opportunities to present mobile users with entertaining experiences?

Yet the advertising industry has tried to make what first worked on the desktop work on mobile.

Consider the experience and functionality of the banner ad, developed almost 20 years ago for desktop display. Research has shown that consumers find display ads un-engaging; and .01% CTR numbers speak for themselves.  Now consider the banner ad, fraught with challenges on desktop, within the mobile framework.  With the device size, the banner ad creative is rendered nearly invisible in many instances; “fat thumb” syndrome causes users to accidentally click ads, taking them through a brand journey that often feels disruptive, not to mention the wrench this throws into attribution models.

So how do marketers solve for the challenges we’re continually bumping up against in the mobile advertising ecosystem?

Content Marketing– The Mobile Marketer’s Solution

Content marketing is not a new concept; it’s been around since the beginning of advertising, i.e. disseminating information to sway consumer behavior or build a brand’s reputation. To solve for the need for deeper brand engagement, marketers have historically turned to longer form content -- and according to the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of consumers say content marketing makes them feel closer to the company distributing the content.  And while the mechanisms by which brands disseminate their message have changed, content marketing’s relevance and success has remained.

Equally important to creating effective messaging is being able to track success metrics. Mobile advertising amplifies the engagement vs. CTR argument that rages within desktop advertising. With static banners, marketers can measure a click, which already has questionable efficacy, but on mobile, a click becomes less of an important metric of success.

Content marketing offers advertisers a KPI to measure how the brand message was received: a more complete picture to evaluate campaign performance. As the framework of the cookie continues to shift, tracking a particular user’s behavior becomes less applicable. However, these pain points become alleviated when brands can assess if the message was received by a larger audience and how it affected a community rather than looking at the micro picture: a specific user’s behavior and actions. 

This is still just an interim step between where we are with user engagement on mobile to the more interactive and engaging experiences that content marketing can provide.  We’ll get there in the near future, but we’re not there yet.  First we need to stop limiting ad effectiveness and let content marketing lead the way as the solution to the challenges we’re all experiencing with mobile advertising.

3 comments about "Content Marketing: The Solution to the Mobile Advertising Challenge".
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  1. Tom Goodwin from Tomorrow, September 26, 2014 at 3:34 p.m.

    I can't imagine a worse place for content marketing than ones phone.
    When you say the mobile is primarily an entertainment context I think you are wrong. Most of our behavior on phones is in Apps being entertained and not being remotely open to other forms of entertainment, or out of app and desperately trying to find something.

  2. Riju Srivastava from Isobar, September 27, 2014 at 3:05 p.m.

    Couldn't agree more with Julie. As mediums of content delivery become portable, it is only natural to go the content way. As Mobile has been used primarily for entertainment, it is gradually crossing the productivity line with larger screens, battery and processing power. It is a paradigm change the way our content consumption habits are evolving and the process is just getting warmed up.

    Having said that, I disagree with tom and say on the contrary, mobile will soon become the ideal playing field for content. It is classic stereotyping (neither me nor any of my friends open promotional mailers so email marketing is futile) which we need to avoid

  3. Anni Paul from BoscoSystems, October 2, 2014 at 8:36 p.m.

    I think content marketing for mobile could mean many things -- more in terms of "native advertising," and I suspect its what we will see a lot of in the next year from Facebook, Airpush and others that have positioned themselves well in the native mobile ad space. Content marketing in this sense could mean images, video, and, yes, written content, that is sponsored but still provides something relevant or interesting to a highly targeted and presumably receptive audience. I think content marketing for mobile is anything but a bad idea. I say it's the future of mobile advertising.

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