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High Stakes for Mobile Ad Innovation: Why Brands Need a New Playbook as We Move Forward

From across the pond in the United States, I’ve watched the mobile ad market explode not just stateside, but also in the United Kingdom in the past four years. In fact, according to a recent Juniper Research report, more marketers “now use mobile as a core channel for consumer engagement,” resulting in a projected doubling of mobile-ad spend by 2019, from $51 billion to $105 billion, at which point, 44% of all digital-ad spend will go toward mobile. Furthermore, In terms of growth percentage and share of spending, the UK is the far outpacing the U.S. According to a recent eMarketer report, the UK has become the first country to bring half of its media ad spending to digital – with just over 20 percent of the total on mobile. That is huge. So the stakes are higher than ever.

As mobile ad spend grows rapidly, brand advertisers need to look out for the pitfalls that many in the US have already fallen victim to – the rash of viewability and fraud issues driven primarily from programmatic, poor adaptation of ineffective and interruptive web ad formats and ultimately the hijacking of a good user experience. Thus far in the UK, options for delivering effective brand campaigns have been few and far between as the space is dominated by antiquated ad products and delivery techniques that failed on desktop 15 years ago.

Mobile advertisers in the UK need a playbook to move forward – with more than £3.26bn expected to be spent this year, advertisers can’t afford to bluff their way through mobile. Here are three ways to make sure you know what you’re doing:

Think Beyond the Old Metrics: Think Engagement

Measuring whether your advertisement is being seen or clicked on is not nearly high enough of a bar for success. Yes, it’s a good first step that many advertisers are still struggling with. However, the ultimate goal of advertising is for a brand to make a real connection with a prospect, increase brand favorability, and ultimately drive a purchase. No success metric can measure that potential “connection” better than user engagement. In order to get a better idea of how users are actually engaging with your brand, you need to measure things like time spent, dwell time, purchase intent, interactions, opt-in, and more.

Press Pause on Automating and Start Innovating

Automation is great, but not for the sake of automation itself – this is where mistakes are being made. Publishers and brands alike rushed towards programmatic advertising without considering the fact that what they were automating were just smaller versions of ineffective 15-year-old ad products, such as banner ads and interstitials. It doesn’t matter how efficiently you annoy your consumer – you’re still annoying them. Furthermore, programmatic has focused on how to efficiently serve an ad, not how to serve a user - there is no consideration for the user experience or the user’s state of mind when seeing the ad. Which is why advertisers need to get back to true innovation driven by human connection and understanding your consumer. There is a time and a place for programmatic, but it has to start by making that connection.

Get in Touch with the Emotional Side of Mobile

Mobile is a uniquely personal platform compared to desktop, evidenced by how much time is being spent on smart phones and how emotionally attached consumers have become to their mobile devices. Especially in apps and games, users are often in a “lean-forward,” engaged state of mind, which translates into an opportunity to reach them in an emotional state. If you want to not only reach them but also endear yourself to them, focus on understanding when those emotional moments are occurring and then leverage that understanding to enhance the experience, rather than simply taking advantage and disrupting them.

At MediaBrix, we’re excited to officially be in London starting May 18, and expand our work with local and pan-European brands to create human connections with their customers using emotional targeting during key moments of app usage and value-exchange advertising to enhance their experience. If you’re interested in learning more you can contact UK advertising expert Ryan Carter, who is heading up the new office.

Ari Brandt is the chief executive officer and co-founder of MediaBrix. He tweets @AriBrandt.

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