To understand the impact of mobile devices on the digital marketing ecosystem, one only has to look down a crowded subway car in New York or Chicago and count the number of people notinteracting with a mobile phone. Mobile internet use makes up more than half of all online traffic according to a 2017 survey, and advertisers are responding accordingly by increasing spending on mobile marketing. According to a MarketingLand report, mobile advertising is expected to represent more than 70 per cent of all digital marketing by 2019.
Because of the critical and growing importance of mobile devices in digital marketing, and the unique and intimate way in which content is consumed on that screen, advertisers must prioritize the user experience when designing and publishing mobile advertisements. Ads that are not designed with user experience in mind jeopardize the entire mobile marketing ecosystem, with intrusive content leading to rapidly diminishing returns for advertiser and publishers alike.
As it stands now, the current state of mobile advertising is plagued by multiple challenges including:
- Lack of Creativity and Oversaturation
For marketers choosing where to allocate their advertising resources, Facebook and Google have established themselves as the most appealing options. 92 per cent of mobile ad investment is spent on Facebook and Google, resulting in users being exposed to the same ad units on these platforms multiple times in a row. If marketers are not willing to vary their advertising content, and/or the platforms they use, users will inevitably tune out the repeated messaging.
- More Irritating Ad Experiences
Mobile users are not only frustrated by repeating ad units, but also by the types of ads they are exposed to in a mobile ecosystem. According to research by the Coalition for Better Ads, mobile users find a lot more to complain about with regard to advertising when compared with desktop users. Some of the most common problems include flashing animations, mobile pages with more than 30 per cent ad density, and video advertisements that autoplay with sound. An advertisement that irritates the end user is highly unlikely to make a positive impression and can even work against the brand and publisher.
- Increasing Use of Ad Blockers
With so much to complain about, it’s no surprise that mobile users are going to great lengths to try to avoid interacting with ads. According to a recent survey of European students, 100 per cent of respondents (aged 22-24) use some form of ad blocker on their mobile device. While the students stated that they were happy to interact with brands in a fun, non-intrusive way, they were not willing to entertain the idea of giving up control by deactivating the ad blocker. This trend is an incredibly troubling and threatening one for an ecosystem built on advertising.
How to Address These Challenges: Satisfying the Three Parties of Mobile Marketing
The goals and relationships in mobile marketing are simple: publishers want to maximize CPM; brands want to maximize engagement with the end user; and end users want maximum enjoyment out of their mobile experience. The optimum result for mobile marketing is to find an equilibrium in which all three parties are satisfied with the outcome.
To rebalance the relationships between publisher, brand and end user, advertisers must consider making the following adjustments to their mobile marketing strategies and content:
- Respect the User Experience (Above All Else!)
Advertisers must internalize the vital importance of the user experience, and any questions regarding design and deployment of ad resources should consider how the user will interact with the content. Any advertisement that causes the end user to react negatively is a waste of resources, and an ad that detracts from the user experience will lead to a negative response from the customer.
- Avoid Problematic Ad Types
Research has clearly indicated which advertisements are most likely to irritate end users. Intrusive pop-up ads, full-screen scrollover ads or those taking up large amounts of real estate can be exasperating for mobile device users. Likewise, video content that doesn’t allow the viewer to control the experience—for example, having a countdown before the user can dismiss it–often leaves a bad impression. Advertisers must challenge themselves to persuade end users with more appealing formats and ones that trust the user to control their own experience.
- Try Something New!
If mobile users must interact with ads, the experience can at least be made more enjoyable by varying the content and experience as much as possible. An advertisement that doesn’t stand out or, even worse, repeats ad nauseum in the same platform, reflects laziness on the part of the advertiser and will lead to diminished returns on investment. Creativity and innovation in designing new mobile ads is a low-risk, high-reward proposition; an advertiser that discovers a new tool for their mobile marketing toolbox will be able to employ it on countless future campaigns.
The stakes for mobile marketing are incredibly high, with worldwide mobile ad spending expected to reach $247bn (£189bn) by 2020. With so much on the line in terms of investment and attention, brands and publishers must focus on making the mobile ad experience as appealing and engaging as possible. Advertisers who can discover how to maximize their collateral with minimal intrusion will be rewarded with powerful results.
by Christophe Menard
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