The Future of Mobile

Beyond optimisation: a mobile-first strategy is a necessity

Mobile Marketing - Member Content

Phil Gale, Head of Agency Partnerships at InMobi, says that when so many brands' audience is mobile-first, their strategy should be too.

Smartphones revolutionised our lives over 15 years ago, and every year since we have seen incremental improvements to these amazingly powerful devices that are with us 24/7. With expected mobile share of digital advertising to be as high as 70 per cent by 2026, you’d think brands would have their mobile marketing strategies nailed. However, for many marketers, the ‘year of the mobile’ has long since been and gone.

With omnichannel activations, audience-based strategies and new attention measurement models taking centre stage, many marketers are unaware that such a high proportion of their budget will be delivered on mobile. The question they should be asking themselves is: if my audience is mobile-first, perhaps my strategy should be too?

The reality for the majority of marketers is that mobile strategies are, at most, an afterthought. From strategic approach to creative concepts, many marketers insist on repurposing desktop or general broadcast strategies, creative assets and content for use on mobile, and hope for the best. Sadly, this results in a huge missed opportunity to really embrace the unique characteristics that the mobile channel offers.

Now, you may think this hasn’t been all bad – standardisation has made mobile far more accessible and omnichannel access encourages marketers to drive more dollars to mobile. But unfortunately, this results in a huge missed opportunity to really leverage the unique characteristics that the mobile channel offers.

Don’t just optimise for mobile – plan for mobile
The first thing to consider, even before the planning stages begin, is understanding how your audience is typically reached. If the majority of last campaign’s budget was served to mobile devices, then looking at a mobile-first planning strategy from the outset makes a lot of sense.

So, what are the key considerations when implementing mobile-first planning strategies into your marketing mix?

Leverage the power of mobile creative
When people think of mobile creative, many default to classic static banner formats, but that is far from the only option. Mobile users today aren’t just looking, they’re touching, swiping and scrolling all day long – so it’s a very tactile channel that lends itself perfectly to interactive formats.

By developing a mobile-first strategy that starts with a solid mobile creative execution, marketers can create a powerful, positive and memorable brand experience.

From game-based creatives to full-screen interstitials that are fully interactive, there’s so much more that marketers can be doing to make the mobile experience more engaging. For example, we build a lot of gamified creatives for clients that allows the user to play mini-games that have been designed around the brand or their products.

Prepare for the future of attention
Another trend we’re seeing is the increasing interest towards attention metrics as a replacement to traditional viewability. Although there’s no widely adopted standard of attention metrics just yet, there is no question on the value of being able to define the impact of one viewed impression vs another, in the absence of an interaction.

Ads on mobile phones are harder to miss (78 per cent of them get noticed, compared to only 17 per cent for standard desktop ads), but they often get less attention than their desktop alternatives (1.0 seconds on average, compared to 1.5 for desktop) – according to Lumen Research.

These stats are exactly as expected. In an environment where users are very used to fast-paced scrolling, it would be smart to assume the attention metrics for mobile would be low. However, due to the smaller screen size of mobile, share of voice on screen is usually much higher, and half-page or full-page ad units are far more commonly available, which ultimately drives higher attention metrics.

Enhance targeting capabilities
Planning for mobile doesn’t just open up more creative possibilities – it also enhances your targeting capabilities. Traditional channels such as desktop are limited in this area because they’re usually at a fixed location. Mobile, on the other hand, is always with us wherever we go, which means increased opportunities to notice ads (such as when you have down time) but also introduces a whole new targeting dimension – historical location.

Consumers use their mobile on the commute to work, all day in the office, and when they get back home again. The fact that it’s a device viewed regularly and at different locations gives advertisers a pool of ‘long data’ that can then be leveraged for targeting at a hypergranular level.

For example, you might want to target a runner who jogs around the park at the weekend. Let’s say they live 20 miles outside of London, but commute into the City every day. The long data provided by mobile means brands can still target that same person with tailored messaging – whether they’re in the park, on the train or at work. But marketers taking a desktop-only approach are far less likely to get their ad in front of that same runner.

In 2023, it’s no longer enough to repurpose existing channels for mobile. To truly move the needle, engage audiences and make the most of mobile’s unique functionalities, brands should be building, targeting and measuring their campaigns with a mobile-first strategy in mind.