For most brands these days, top of the strategy wish list is mobile advertising. Yet, when I talk with clients about executing a mobile campaign, I am often surprised at how few are truly thinking about mobility.
In too many cases, desktop-era best practices are being pasted onto mobile web campaigns as though the channels were the same. They are not. Mobile is personal. More importantly, it’s portable. With mobile usage now surpassing desktop, and Americans collectively checking their mobile devices a staggering eight billion times every day, according to a Deloitte report, doesn’t mobile deserve its own approach?
Mobile could become the first screen for marketers, if we can overcome its two main challenges: building effective audience data, and identifying context that makes sense for a mobile world.
With desktop display, ad inventory is typically bought against static audience profiles or made to relate to publisher content that provides clear contextual relevance for marketer messages. On mobile devices, 90% of consumer time is spent in apps, (according to Flurry) and most of those apps provide little content-related context. This poses a new challenge for digital advertisers: how can we find context on these devices and achieve true mobility?
1. Explore Those Powerful “In Between” Moments
When someone is sitting at a large-screen desktop PC or laptop, they are usually fully engaged in a specific task – be it work, product research or eventual purchase. These things take time, but that lean-forward readiness is something which can be targeted.
By contrast, smartphone apps tend to be used for time-filling, on the move activity, not task completion. That means what you should really target are the moments between customer intent. Communicating with audiences throughout the day, when they are not focused on large-screen tasks, builds readiness for the moment they do lean forward to research or buy.
2. Mobile Demands a New Form of Audience Targeting
Demographic and lifestyle data also only tell a partial story about the end user. Sure, it may accurately tell you a prospect is a business traveler. But would you show him a suitcase ad on his smartphone when he is spending the weekend at the zoo with his kids? The addition of go-with-them-everywhere media devices to people’s lives has exposed the reality that they may have very different targeting modalities at different times of day, week or locations.
3. Unleash the Full Potential of Real-Time Mobile Data
Cell phones are the most personal communication devices ever created. And according to a recent eMarketer report, most smartphone users enable location based services. By tracking location as well as copious other personal account activities, cell phones can tell you which ad to serve to the dad at the zoo. But, to fully realize that potential, we need to let mobile data take a much bigger role in targeting and optimizing the buy and the creative.
We need to stop predefining audience segments as though people were chained to their desk, and let the data craft audiences in real-time. This kind of change will not just improve ad effectiveness but bring about more cost-effective ways of using data that are not driven by add-on CPMs.
It’s time for brand marketers to go beyond “mobile-first” and adopt a mobile-only approach. Stop treating desktop’s vision of context as the supreme paradigm for audience building. Only mobile data can help you understand mobile audiences.
Data — including app usage, location and device IDs – can now mesh with real-time cues like events, time of day and weather, to provide the perfect canvas for dynamic and adaptive creative campaigns. The imperative will be to leverage machine learning technologies that can digest multiple layers of relevant data points to select the appropriate ad requests without restriction.
The great news? Digital display has given birth to programmatic and the matching of data signals in an instant. Marketers just need to get used to the fact that data is the most valuable commodity when targeting on-the go audiences — and some of that data has to be place- and time-based.
People are multi-dimensional and, if we embrace the mobility that smartphones afford them, we will be making the lifelong connections that build and maintain brands.