Make Mobile Advertising Welcome

7 keys to a great mobile ad campaign

In today’s up-close and personal mobile world, advertising on mobile needs to go beyond merely being tolerable; it needs to be welcome. The second webinar of this year’s IAB’s “Make Mobile Work” webinar series addressed this issue head-on and showcased some successful efforts to make mobile advertising welcome through delivering ad formats native to the mobile user experience. You can view the webinar recording here.

With the goal of continuing the conversation, Ryan Griffin, SVP Strategy of Opera Mediaworks, shares his thoughts below on how to tap into the native capabilities of mobile devices to delight and not annoy the mobile consumers.

Mobile ad blocking is – according to a recent study by PageFair – still relatively uncommon in the U.S., but that’s not enough evidence to prevent advertisers from being concerned about its long-term impact on the mobile advertising opportunity. It’s no longer about “x-ing out” the message, but opting out entirely and never seeing the message at all – because people consider advertising to be an interruption.

But we don’t have to pretend that advertising isn’t an interruption; much of it is. We’re not in the business of changing the perception of the entire idea of advertising. What we can do, however, is help people associate mobile advertising with a welcome moment, or something that is additive to their mobile experience, rather than interruptive.

How do we do that? We start by identifying when not to message to people. Here’s an analogy: you’re at the office, headphones on, locked in on a project, and making great progress. Then a colleague comes by, hovers next to your desk, and launches right into his needs without any kind of consideration or empathy to your context. An experience like that in a mobile advertising context transcends “annoyance”, and can become flat-out damaging for a brand.

So that’s bad advertising etiquette:  You’re in a state where any interruption would be unwelcome, and a message pops into your world — one that expects not just your somewhat-passive attention, but goes so far as to ask for you to take an action that you have no interest in taking.

But what if that colleague had waited until you were taking a break from your project? A moment where you’ve grabbed a snack, are “leaning back”, headphones off, maybe catching up on industry news. The individual comes by to check in on the status of a mutual project, and asks if he can tell you a funny story about what happened to him last weekend involving a shared friend. And it’s a tremendous story – so great, that you make a note to remember that story because you want to tell your friend later.

That’s good advertising etiquette – when you not only identify the exact right moment to borrow the consumer’s attention, but when you can delight them to the point where they consider it to be not “messaging,” but pure entertainment. And when the story is told so well, so colorfully, that you want to remember it to recount later to others.

In alignment with the IAB’s “Make Mobile Advertising Welcome” initiative, here are 3 ways to rethink the mobile ad experience, both from an integration perspective and mobile hardware perspective, to create additive experiences for mobile users.

Give a little to get a little

There is a major exception to the misconception that all advertising is deemed unwelcome by consumers, and that is an opt-in mobile ad model that is entirely driven by choice, does not interrupt the user’s app activity, and provides meaningful value. Value exchange ads, or rewarded ads, are when the publisher trades value, such as virtual currency, consumable goods (e.g., a power up or speed boost) or even access to pay-walled content in exchange for a consumer lending their attention to a brand experience. (In the office analogy, it’s the colleague’s story.)

Letting consumers self-select the moments to pause, interact with a brand (via a video or interactive rich media experience) and earn something in return has proven to drive higher completion rates and conversions than traditional interruptive formats on mobile.

But of course, the content of the message matters, and mobile advertisers have an opportunity to create powerful, immersive experiences once they have the consumer’s attention.

Thanks to technology that allows brands to leverage the native functions of the smartphone or tablet, they can appeal to two very strong senses that are underserved by other mediums: touch and peripheral vision.

Haptics can make consumers want more

Haptics, or vibration, might seem like a “nice to have,” in mobile ads, but we’ve found from several campaigns run so far this year that video ads enhanced with haptic effects (via Immersion’s TouchSense® technology) had higher click-through rates, with some “haptified” ads getting as much as 220% higher CTR than those without. Other metrics, such as positive sentiment and ad recall, also improve.

But even more interesting is that consumers paid attention longer, and, even after they were done with the video, they wanted to see it again, as we saw with the Lexus, Stoli and Peugeot campaigns we worked on:

Getting a consumer to watch a mobile video ad all the way through to the end is certainly a “win” for a marketer; it shows a level of engagement and commitment to the creative and to the brand. And of course there is the exposure to the end card, which gives them an opportunity to interact and take action – opening them up to multiple campaign KPIs.

But if the viewer chooses to replay the video, that demonstrates an even deeper connection, because they are actively seeking more exposure and understanding of the ad message. In a way, it is like an earned impression – a secondary exposure to your ad that you didn’t pay for, but a self-selected one that should further drive brand metrics. (For more campaign metrics on haptics ads, see here.)

Immerse the consumer for total engagement

Virtual reality has been an emerging subject matter in our industry in 2016, and is only beginning to mature as an immersion tool. One way that marketers can do this is to think of the smartphone as a lens through which the consumer “sees” the world – and unlike other digital mediums, it is completely free in its movement. Looking up and down, side to side, the mobile user can get a sense of freedom in their experience, and that feeling of “choice” will empower them further to take action within and after the ad experience is over.

With 360° panoramic ad units, like the ones seen in the Hilton’s mobile ad for its Barbados resort and Lufthansa’s promotion of its business-class services, mobile users can explore the environment with their device, moving it horizontally and vertically to see more of the scene, which feels like it is not encapsulated in the device, but “real” in the way that they look at the world with their eyes, not just a camera.

Still, 360° video is merely a very early step toward providing mobile users with a fully immersive experience. It’s best viewed as a bridge to “true” VR experiences – and the biggest companies in the world are doing everything they can to accelerate mass adoption of these types of experiences.

These are just a few examples of how Fortune 1000 brands are shifting their focus towards mobile advertising experiences that add value to the consumer. Via superior storytelling and virtual experiences that leverage the native capabilities of mobile devices, we believe the perception of mobile advertising can shift, too, to become one of “welcome interruption.”