Three Plays for Mobile to Transcend the Hype

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play_smallADOTAS – For those of us in the digital advertising space — either as advertisers, publishers or providers — we’re the first to publicly promote the growth and importance of mobile as the next great advertising platform. We’ve seen the dollars Apple, Google and others are throwing at mobile formats and networks. But, as Tom Hanks says in “Big,” I don’t get it —  yet.

During ad:tech NYC, our AdJuggler team conducted an informal poll of more than 150 attendees, asking two simple questions. First, are you seeing mobile ads? And, second, have you ever clicked on a mobile ad.

Keep in mind too, the ad:tech crowd is not mainstream America. This is a young, primarily urban group, and definitely first-movers on mobile and other technology trends. Of the attendees interviewed, however, less than 25% said they’ve never seen a mobile ad, and less than 2% have ever clicked on an ad (2 out of 150) — and one of those clicks was by accident.

Yes, the survey may lack statistical significance, and yes, there may be insights on ad consumption based on device, number of apps downloaded, etc., but, candidly, the usage results were so low that it confirmed what many of us secretly believe:  mobile advertising is still in its infancy. Early advertisers on mobile are most likely doing it as true pioneers or as a reaction to industry peer pressure.

That said, we at AdJuggler are fans of mobile, mobile apps, real-time information, and, especially, the promise of geo-targeted messaging. To truly accelerate mobile ad consumption up the adoption curve, the industry must continue pushing in a few directions:

  1. More Engagement.  Mobile junkies undoubtedly have 20-40 apps downloaded, but, in private, would admit they only use 2-3 apps daily. Unlike online, this skewed usage on mobile makes sense due to limited mobile “real estate” and the cumbersome nature of random site and app surfing. The top decile of mobile apps will dominate media.  So, a quality brand like Pepsi has two choices – advertise on the top sites or create a mobile environment so engaging through games or social that it achieves more cost-effective in-app branding.
  2. More Rewards. In many respects, phones and apps are nothing more than adult forms of a Nintendo DS.  If users can win prizes, points, and coupons by engaging in an app, a game, or a contest, the volume of app consumption will rise dramatically.  Mobile-based 2D/3D bar code adoption, mobile payments, etc., will be big drivers here too.
  3. More RealTime.  As with mobile hype, I believe the hype around digital privacy is overstated.  Most people I know like relevant content and advertising, as long as it’s not “too personal” and their PII is not shared.  GPS provides a huge opportunity for real time promotions and couponing that could be ‘pushed’ in the form of mobile ads, to your mobile email, and even in-text if authorized. I am curious where Groupon and LivingSocial are in deploying GPS-driven offers.

Personally, I’ve never clicked on a mobile ad. I can’t imagine, if I’m sitting in a physician’s office waiting for my appointment, why I’d want to click on an ad for Chevy.  The ads themselves are often difficult to read and the mobile landing pages for the advertisers are worse.

That said, I love Toys R Us’ recent announcement this week to offer a couponing app that generates coupons, which a user can then validate at its in-store kiosks.  This is where the platform needs to go.

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