Advertising Digital Innovation Guest Columns
4 mins read

View From The Buy Side: Mobile Advertising

In 2018 people in the UK will spend an average of 2 hours and 7 minutes every day on mobile devices compared to 1 hour 56 minutes on desktops and laptops, according to eMarketer. Unsurprisingly, advertising budgets are following consumers’ eyeballs with more than half of all digital ad spend going on mobile ads.

There are many advantages to mobile advertising, for example, scale, interactive ad formats and granular targeting opportunities but there are also significant challenges that plague advertisers.

Incomplete tracking

It’s much harder to track the performance of mobile advertising because the identity of the mobile web and app audience is independently measured which makes attribution much harder compared to desktop. Furthermore, cross-device tracking is virtually impossible unless you have logged in users.

In a world where marketers are more accountable for performance than ever before, the lack of mobile tracking means they have two choices. Continue to run mobile advertising believing, but not knowing, that mobile advertising is contributing to sales. Or halting all mobile activity that cannot be measured, thus compromising scale and probably harming sales.

Neither of these options is a solution and will ultimately harm the industry if something is not done to allow for sufficient measurement.

Click trickery

Despite efforts from Google and Facebook, accidental clicks on mobile ads remains a frustration for advertisers who pay for all clicks regardless of whether they are accidental or not.

The impossible to avoid ads also annoy consumers who find their in app or mobile web experience disrupted as they are directed away from the content they were actively engaging with. This creates a problem for mobile publishers and app developers who may find dissatisfied consumers seek alternative sources of content.

In order to break free from pesky click trickery, brands need to invest in ‘viewable by design’ ad formats, focus on contextual targeting, and measure engagement not clicks. A good example is Breitling’s video ad campaign with Forbes that centered around the user experience, in a contextually relevant placement.

Whilst brands may see a drop in click volume and CTR when moving from standard display ads on mobile these should not be the KPIs that mobile is evaluated on. Shifting to KPIs such as dwell time will show an increase in engagement and brand awareness.

Arguably, the best mobile ad format is audio; podcasts, digital radio and music streaming. Audio ads are particularly effective because they hit a consumer in a state of immersive attention and they can be highly personalised. This presents a unique opportunity for brands to connect with consumers. Moreover, audio ads allow consumers to carry on with what they are doing whereas standard display ads require consumers to halt what they are doing to interact with the ad.

Standard display, interactive display, video, and audio ads all have a place in the media mix. In order to make the most of this mix, media agencies need to immerse themselves in audience research in order to understand target audiences, media context and ‘moments’ where valuable attention can be captured.

Over the next few years, we will see more and more connected devices becoming mainstream. Brands and media agencies need to stay on top of this trend and think about mobile not as a device but as a consumer moment.

Once moments are properly understood and integrated into the media planning process, complementary media channels need to be aligned. Digital out of home, social, and search can all add depth and frequency to a campaign, generating momentum and building performance.

Making the most of contextual relevance

Arguably, mobile is the most targeted form of online advertising available today but many advertisers do not take advantage of the options available to them, such as time and location, instead opting for the desktop standards of demographics, audience interests, and placement.

The beauty of mobile advertising it is has an ability to bring brands into moments that matter in a way that no other media can. Smartphones are a mainstay of modern life, a communication method that is always available and brands need to take advantage of this in a smart way.

Time and location-based targeting is a great way for brands to add value to consumers’ lives by providing supplementary information relevant to what the user is doing at that specific moment. For example, if an ad request tells you that a consumer is within half a mile of your physical store and that the page they are on contains information that relates to your product or services, having a dynamic piece of creative that informs the user of sales or promotions, or even store closing times adds value (as long as the ad format is not intrusive).

Location and time are also one of the key ways that brands can address the tracking issues because it is possible to tie the ad impression to physical footfall and/or sales.

For brands that are experiencing problems with mobile advertising addressing the above will certainly help improve performance and build better relationships with consumers. However, it shouldn’t stop there. Both publishers and advertisers need to take responsibility for the issues that exist and build direct relationships that allow each party to understand the challenges and goals of the other. Without this understanding publishers and brands will continue to operate in silos and the problems will only get worse.

Sam Fenton-Elstone, CEO, Anything is Possible