Native, video and programmatic are the essentials for mobile advertising success

There’s no doubt mobile is an immense opportunity for digital advertising, particularly in this part of the world (APAC).

Almost three quarters of us will have a mobile device by 2020; that’s 3.1 billion people. Such growth is difficult to ignore, particularly when many countries with poor fixed broadband speeds have leapfrogged the west with mobile-first adoption.

Of course, where consumer attention goes, advertisers follow. That’s why the growth in mobile use has captured our attention like no other medium before it. Globally, eMarketer predicts mobile will account for 71% of all digital spend (and 32% of all media) by 2020. Coupled with that, this region is expecting the fastest growth in advertising spend – according to Zenith, Asia’s fast-track nations (China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam) will see annual growth of 9.2% each year till 2018, well ahead of the rest of the world.

So, how do advertisers make the most of a growing slice of an expanding market? There are three clear paths to success:

Native is key

Mobile is a highly personal device, and consumers are willing to receive content and messages from brands, in the right context. Thankfully, the richness of mobile data makes context possible for brands to ensure their messages are timely and relevant. A recent study by business analysts HIS forecasts that nearly two thirds of all mobile display ads will be native by 2020 and that consumers engage with native ads between 20 and 60% more than standard banner ads.

Delivering content in the right context requires a lot of work. Mobile has the ability to provide hundreds of data signals that enable a myriad of factors to be considered for real-time ad serving, but it requires solid technology to analyse this data and ensure mobile campaigns deliver highly relevant content, to the right user, at the right moment.

The device used is one of those factors that needs to be considered. Smartphones are generally used more frequently across the day, general out of the home and for shorter periods. Tablets are lean-back devices, used less frequently, but for longer periods, and most commonly at home. Marketers should tailor their native-focused strategy based on these considerations – and any other available data - to drive increased relevancy.

Video rules supreme

The region is seeing a massive increase in 4G services. Across Asia Pacific Cisco forecasts average mobile speeds will increase from 28.1 Mbps last year to 51.3 Mbps in 2020, more than enough to deliver high quality video. Over the same period we’ll see traffic increase from 6.2Gb to 16.3 Gb per user each month, with three quarters of that usage accounted for by mobile video.

Needless to say, the demand is there, but it presents a challenge for brands, who must create made-for-mobile content, or work with a partner who can retrospectively re-edit and retrofit TV commercials in a variety of mobile aspect ratios. It’s a minor compromise given the size of the opportunity, particularly with the emergence of new ad formats – in particular 360, virtual and augmented reality, and live video.

Marketers are also looking at how they can combine video with other native mobile features to create even more compelling experiences. Many brands are taking their content further by layering video content with rich media to have consumers physically interact with their ad beyond the act of viewing.

For example, AOL was recently involved with a major drinks brand, who layered their video ad with an embedded branch location finder, making it easy to find the nearest restaurant serving their product, as well as offering social sharing features within the ad unit to encourage engagement beyond the mobile device.

Programmatic is essential

Effective outcomes require a sophisticated, data-led approach to marketing. Programmatic buying will become increasingly essential if marketers are to target consumers effectively – across a variety of ad formats and devices – and to track performance and make on-the-fly changes to maximize interactions and conversions.

Indeed, we’re seeing more and more media buyers delivering branding campaigns via programmatic buying as the quality of inventory now mirrors that of a direct buy. Furthermore, the ROI extrapolated from impression-by-impression buying practices afforded by programmatic platforms is only encouraging further spend and adoption. Premium programmatic is also becoming increasingly important in mobile, in part thanks to Private Marketplaces (PMPs) that help to achieve scale in brand-safe environments.

Prepare for change

There’s no doubt mobile will change the shape of the ad industry in 2017, particularly in Asia Pacific. Done well, it can provide a rich experience for consumers and drive greater engagement for advertisers. This won’t be achieved, though, unless there’s recognition that mobile requires a unique approach, with strategies and content made for mobile. Consumers have an affinity with their mobile devices and it is vital brand focus on delivering content that complements, not interferes, with the user experience.

Carl Costa is the regional business lead at AOL APAC. He can be found tweeting at @carlcosta.

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