Mobile Is Bigger Than TV -- Can Adland Be Trusted With It?

Was 2017 the year where mobile finally overtook television? That's the question everyone in adland will be asking after this week's AA/WARC figures showed that in the third quarter, at least, that was indeed the case.

If or when it turns out to be true across the entire year, the question will doubtless be whether that means mobile is headed for a problem with intrusive ads -- or whether adland will manage to control itself.

The research showed that one in four pounds of advertising budgets is currently going to mobile. That should mean the channel is valued at around GBP5bn for 2017 -- pretty much exactly where television is also forecast to be for the entire year. Crucially, WARC has said that regardless of what happens over the entire year, we have already lived through the first quarter, where mobile trumped tv spending.

Although we still have Christmas 2017 to factor in -- and 2018 is likely to be a good year for television advertising with the (Fifa) World Cup -- the momentum behind mobile will definitely take it well above the bigger screen entertainment this year, even if it did not across 2017. 

But here's the rub. As I blogged earlier in the week, digital display is up, and so is social video on the mobile channel. I always imagined that native advertising, as part of content sponsorship, would be going up too but it's actually flatlining. I am still surprised at the finding -- but that aside, it begs a huge question: Isn't all this advertising going to get in the way of customer experience?

That has always been a feather in native's cap. Articles would be flagged up as sponsored and sit in the news feed. No buttons or banners screaming out for attention but rather a piece of content, hopefully enticing, that grabs the user's eye.

OK -- so that's probably what we have with the rise of mobile social video. These videos are likely intended to be consumed within a feed. Even if they are promoted, they will still appear on the page rather than on the side screaming out for attention.

However, with the rise in digital display on mobile, I must say a little alarm is going off in my head, and I suspect it's not just me. 

In fact, MediaCom's CEO, Josh Krichefski, has issued a statement that pretty much sums up my fears.

To paraphrase, mobile content is loved by consumers and that represents a massive audience and opportunity, but that cannot pardon advertisers who simply throw money at the channel with little regard to targeting or coming between users and their content.

"The audience will expect and demand an unforgettable experience, but if they see an ad 'blocking' the content they want to view, all that ad spend will be completely wasted." This is how Krichefski sums up the risk. 

To be fair, AA/WARC research does suggest that social is the big winner in ad spend, both in video and not. So a lot of the spend will be in ads that pop up in a news feed and should, because of the rich data available, usually be well targeted.

But there is a warning still there for advertisers eyeing up the opportunities of a seismic shift in attention to the small screen and the accompany shift in budget to accommodate it. Get in the way of that attention, or obstruct the purpose of a browsing session, and you will simply send ad blocking downloads through the roof too. 

1 comment about "Mobile Is Bigger Than TV -- Can Adland Be Trusted With It?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 5, 2018 at 8 a.m.

    Take out all of the non-TV type ad  spend from the mobile figures and what you will see is that for TV-style ads, mobile is not even close to TV in ad spend.

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