From Spray And Pray To Touch And Feel?

It has always struck me as odd that ads -- particularly on mobile -- don't try to get people do interact with them. By interact, I don't mean just consume content or click on a link for further information, I mean actually get involved somehow. 

A year ago when MAD London brought the great and the good of mobile advertising to a London stage to discuss mobile advertising, it was a point that came up a couple of times. Users spend their lives poking their smartphone screens, yet when it comes to getting them to do something more than just consume ads, the industry goes cold -- it seems fresh out of ideas. One suggestion was that we should do more with touch, sound and feel and not forget that users can move a mobile phone, so motion could be brought into what advertisers offer.

S, it was interesting to see Peugeot claim it's the first brand to add vibration to a mobile ad. In its case, an Android ad will vibrate the handset to help replicate the throbbing of the sporty engine that powers its 308 GTi model. The campaign is running this month, and so the brand will know soon enough if it has led to a deepened user engagement and, crucially, if it has led to a higher than normal level of test drive bookings or brochure requests.

Whether it is successful or not, it does at least raise the question of whether brands could be doing more to bring people into their advertising beyond a text-based offer or a video. One idea that has been bounded around but has yet to come to fruition is that not only could a phone vibrate, but the microphone could be used to encourage participation within the ad or perhaps the motion sensor in a phone could allow an on-screen object to be moved. Nobody's pretending this would be easy. The tech would need to be swung into action, and there may well be barriers within operating systems to prevent any code within an ad from doing anything more than simply playing a brand's message. The challenges don't seem impossible to overcome, however, and certainly don't explain why it has taken this long for a brand to come up with a roaring engine that actually makes a phone vibrate. I guess there was an early frontrunner of this with the Carling app, which allowed users to down a pint that was on their screen by tipping the phone as if they were taking a huge glug. But I can't think of much advertiser-led activity since. 

So maybe the time will prove right for advertisers to do a lot more than show and tell and allow the public to interact. Maybe there's a way that a 308 GTi ad, for example, could lead to a user-led tour round the car before it is taken for a virtual spin around a racetrack. When interaction rates with display are so low, could it hurt for a brand or two to start trying to get some excitement in their messaging by getting consumers directly involved? Ironically, the problem with display has been summed up to me several times by brands seeing it as a spray and pray and because interaction is so low, nobody bothers too much with creative. You can already see that beginning to change as advertisers get smarter with wallpapers and takeovers, and so maybe adding some human input is the next step forward? It wouldn't hurt to at least give it a go, would it?

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