The Drum Studios WhoSay Technology

Dissecting mobile marketing: what works on the small screen?


By Haley Velasco, Freelance journalist

September 28, 2017 | 4 min read

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Whosay has hedged it bets on influencer marketing as the way to crack the mobile code. According to their 2017 Influence Marketing Insights report, the company found that influence marketing performs better than other forms of media and advertising, achieving three times better video view-through rates on Facebook.


Influencer marketing performs better than other forms of media, according to WhoSay

“There is a physical change of behavior… around carrying smartphones and we haven’t altered our advertising thinking to address those tactile changes,” said Steve Ellis, chief executive officer of WhoSay.

But other than influencers operating on social, does mobile advertising work with consumers?

The panelists at Advertising Week New York’s 'We must be able to do better than this: making better ads for mobile' panel think so.

Ellis hosted the panel and started off by pinpointing what’s not working in the industry, such as banner ads, pop-up ads and pre-rolls ads. He noted that “junk mail, by definition, gets better engagement rates,” than these other advertising techniques, with 1-4% engagement.

Engagement rates are only a small part of the picture, with content type, platform and functionality playing a huge part in user experience and the relationship with advertising.

Brian Wong, chief executive officer and founder at Kiip, a mobile advertising network, honed in on consumer behavior and how consumer experiences outperform other forms of advertising, especially on digital and mobile.

Wong said that we need to be “Making advertising something that people really like again.”

But in order to create effective experiences, marketers, agencies and brands need to start understanding “what people actually do on the phone,” Wong added.

As a piece of this user experience, Ian Schafer, chief experience officer at Engine USA, a multi-faceted agency, highlighted the disruption that ads on smaller screens cause versus traditional platforms, like TV, because of sheer screen size. He noted that the most successful efforts on mobile screens are the ones that look less like advertising and more like content, while still getting the message across to the consumer.

“It’s hard to be subtle,” Schafer said. “Subtlety is going to be the thing that wins in mobile.”

The technology also matters for the overall ad experience. According to Russ Freyman, head of partnerships at Google, speed and how fast pages render are important when considering the ad consumption ecosystem.

“When pages render faster, users tend to spend more time on them,” he said. “That ends up being better for advertising itself. If the user is spending more time consuming the content, it’s more likely that their ads become more viewable.”

In addition to experiences, tactics and speed, platforms are also important. While some marketers are only focusing on social media for digital, Natalie Monbiot, senior vice president of futures for Samsung at Starcom, said that old-school email also provides a big opportunity for marketing.

“Email today has not taken advantage of… the interactivity of a mobile device,” she said. “There’s a huge opportunity to innovate even within something as old school as email to make that experience that much better.”

She added: “The big opportunity is beyond the screen.”

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