Gavin Buxton
Jul 25, 2016

The next generation of mobile ads will be user-centric

Developing effective advertising for the most intimate platform ever created requires a different mindset, writes Gavin Buxton of S4M.

Gavin Buxton
Gavin Buxton

With smartphone behaviour evolving faster than we can swipe, agile brands are jumping into mobile campaigns with the hopes of winning over more consumers. The brands that will succeed in this space—while simultaneously rising against adblocking—are those who put individual users at the heart and forefront of their strategy. UX and storytelling needs to adapt to mobile trends quicker than ever, meaning brand briefs must be mobile-first, and forget about recycling and adapting existing larger screen campaigns.

Mobile data allows advertisers to meet the immediate needs of a customer. It’s the only media that can reconcile online and offline consumers in a bricks-and-mortar storefront.

Here are some tips to help marketers keep up with today’s always-on mobile user.

Use mobile to its full potential

People don’t want to consume their content passively. Branded messages on mobile devices should leverage all the native functionality of smartphones. Users want active engagements, whether it’s through photobooths, gamification or opt-in videos. An effective ad should make users want to swipe, take a picture, scratch, tilt or play. Engagement means transforming ads into entertainment, content and services. 

Retailers, for example, can engage mobile users by allowing them to swipe and view a product from 360° and virtually try on a clothing item. Auto brand mobile ads can leverage geolocation and propose the earliest available test drive at the nearest point of sale, to drive your customers from mobile to store.

Reinvent the lost art of storytelling

Instead of retargeting a user with the same ad over and over, use sequential messaging to continue the conversation depending on where the customer is in their buying journey. Take advantage of DCO (dynamic creative optimisation) technology, and learn user behaviours to adapt the campaign based on engagements.

There are tools out there to use predictive, probabilistic behaviour to continually add contextual data to mobile devices. For example, the first time a user is exposed to an ad, it can be all about the features of the product. The second time the user sees it, the ad can be advertised alongside real-time weather warnings, local news, famous Singapore or Hong Kong landmarks, and so on.

Personalisation at scale

Advertisers who will succeed in this mobile age are those who always put the user first. Irrelevant ads hijack the user experience. Mobile devices are the most intimate devices today—and it is mandatory and entirely possible for brands to communicate with consumers at a one-to-one scale. We have more metadata than ever, allowing us to create more relevant ads that incorporate contextual surroundings. Irritating mobile ad experiences are unforgivable and brands risk pushing mobile consumers towards ad blocking.

Personalisation can be as straightforward as making an iOS and Android version of mobile creative. And don’t forget the details; brands can easily tailor mobile campaigns based on the language and location of the user.

Seek transparency across the user journey

For an effective campaign, advertisers should be aware of all the relevant metrics from the creative interactions in-ad all the way to post-ad actions. Understanding the full user journey beyond basic shallow metrics of impressions and clicks affords brands a clearer understanding of the consumer and the effectiveness of their creative messages. 

HTML5 format has quickly become the newest standard for creative ads, since the mobile-friendly language lets developers do interactive displays that previously required bulky Flash. This programming language also tracks impressions, checks if an ad has fully rendered, and sees whether users have interacted with the actual ad and carried over to the landing page.

Landing-page tracking across mobile web and apps then allows ongoing understanding of the entire user journey. This is game changing, as advertisers can know whether the users actually arrived on a fully loaded page, their time spent and actions undertaken. Being able to track the degree of engagements means advertisers can optimise creatives that work better and phase out ones that don’t work.

Gavin Buxton is vice president of sales with S4M APAC

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