Commentary

The Hypocrisy Of Brands That Don't Reward Consumers

The most successful brands in the world obsess over customer experience. For these brands, it’s all about ensuring surprise and delight throughout the customer journey. So why are the marketers behind these same brands holding audiences captive in order to show them advertising?

It’s the antithesis of a good customer experience.

The same marketers that espouse the virtues of customer experience are regularly hijacking their customers’ time without providing any value exchange. Some of them would argue that their ad dollars are underwriting the content consumers actually care about — that's value enough.

But the growing number of people employing ad blockers would argue differently.

Here’s the thing: There is a way to put a brand’s messaging in front of consumers and deliver value at the same time. And this tactic is far from a new one. But the big question is: Why do so many brand advertisers hate rewarded placements?

For the uninitiated, rewarded placements are ads that incentivize a user to interact with a brand (e.g., watch a video). Sometimes rewarded placements offer gamers virtual currency, but many times, these placements offer real-world rewards, including free trials to online services. These placements tend to perform very well.

However, the rewarded ad space has seen a rise in bad actors pumping a glut of ads into the marketplace that incentivize users to download apps. They do so knowing full well the apps will be deleted hours later, thereby wasting the brand’s investment in reaching those consumers.

However, these actors don’t represent the true heart of the rewarded ad space. The bad actors gaming the current economic realities of the mobile ad space should not be allowed to undermine the vendors attempting to create a value exchange between brands and consumers.

Reward Meaningful Interactions, Not Basic App Installs

Have you ever accidentally clicked on a mobile ad, only to be brought to the app store for an app you don’t want? Nine times out of 10, the ad that drives this experience is a rewarded ad in which a user is incentivized to download an app.

Whether points in a game, virtual currency or real-world rewards, the user gets something for the action. The problem with this model is that it does not create real intent to use the app. Further, if the ad promotes a branded app, the air of desperation surrounding this tactic can lead to a negative brand association.

In order to encourage premium brands to use rewarded tactics, it is critical the rewards be better aligned to the brand goals. Rewards should be extended when consumers willingly interact with a piece of content. They should not encourage people to do things they simply do not want to do.

Reward the Right People

There will always be people who love to get something for nothing. You know the type. They’re addicted to Groupon, and they look for “cheats” in all aspects of life. This group is not necessarily defined by lack of wealth or skills; some people just love to game the system.

Although some of these individuals are likely part of your target group, the goal of rewarded advertising should not be to attract those who are simply looking to get a reward.

The trick to effectively advertising in rewarded placements is hyper-targeting. By and large, rewarded placements work better as a mid-to-lower funnel activity. At the top of the funnel, they tend to attract individuals who are simply seeking rewards. But with accurate targeting, brands can build propensity to buy or drive direct sales.

Create for the Placement

Creative should be built for the medium in which it is running. While this is true in most advertising, this is especially critical in rewarded placements. If you are simply running the creative that you run as banners ads as rewarded placements, they will come off as disjunctive and intrusive. When running rewarded placements, it’s key to employ creative that acknowledges the advertising moment and the value exchange taking place.

While recent research suggests that many advertisers are still not comfortable with rewarded placements, these ads are slowly becoming an endemic means to influence consumers on their mobile devices.

Further, as consumers become savvier to how marketers use their data (and time), they are going to start demanding more value when confronted by advertising. Now is the time to start thinking about how rewarded placements can be thoughtfully folded into a brand’s marketing mix. Find a way to enhance, rather than interrupt, the consumer experience.

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