It’s all about the experience

Off the back of figures showing that up to 45 per cent of ad budgets are going to mobile, Jide Sobo, associate digital director in Ebiquity’s International Media Group offers advice on creating content for the small screen.

Mobile devices have become the go-to screen for social networking, watching videos and web browsing, accounting for 91 per cent of screen time in Indonesia, 71 per cent in the US, 67 per cent in Spain, and 61 per cent in the U, according to comScore. As consumers are increasingly drawn in by the cost and convenience of mobile, advertisers are jumping on the bandwagon; only last week Forrester revealed that advertisers are now spending up to 45 per cent of their budgets on mobile. But as the landscape becomes increasingly crowded, the questions brands ask of their creative and media agencies are becoming more crucial than ever.

There are some fundamental implications for user experience when consumers use mobile devices rather than PCs; principally relating to screen size and the capabilities of the devices. We use our fingers to interact with touch screens, rather than a precise point-and-click of a mouse, sound is usually muted on mobile, and mobile connection speeds are slower than fixed lines.

Before you even consider how your advertising works in mobile, you need to make sure that your web, social presence, and digital content all work on mobile screens. Research from econsultancy shows that 74 per cent of people abandon a mobile site after waiting just five seconds for to it load so getting the mobile experience right on your website is of a top priority.

Attention span
Smaller screens also mean that simply re-using your TV commercials as YouTube ads won’t work. With up to 85 per cent of time spent on YouTube coming from mobile devices, the impact that’s possible on a PC screen is usually lost on a mobile device. Our attention span using mobiles is also typically much shorter. And, don’t forget that sound is usually muted on mobile, so visual messaging, clear branding, and subtitles are all more important.

Viewability, ad fraud, and brand safety are fundamental elements of quality ad inventory, and ad tech works in slightly different ways for mobile vs PCs. It’s true that mobile web inventory can be measured in much the same way as desktop, but in-app inventory can be a black hole. As ComScore has recently shown, more than 80 per cent of all mobile time is spent in-app[4]. This means that you could have no visibility as to whether a significant proportion of your mobile ads are seen by humans.

While mobile browsing habits are similar to desktop, app usage is quite different, and there’s a much longer tail of apps used on mobile. This means that the premium environments available online are not where people are spending their time in apps. Instead, entertainment and games categories are the third and fourth largest app categories on mobile. This means that an ad served programmatically on mobile is much more likely to be served into a free game that you’ve never heard of than into an app you know well. This has major implications for brand safety, as well as appropriate brand association.

Fortunately, all of these issues can be mitigated by talking about your mobile advertising with both your creative and media agencies. There are four, critical issues you need to consider and discuss.

The user journey
Understand the user journey for your mobile ads, and make sure that you have the correctly-optimised mobile assets in place. Is your ad creative designed specifically with mobile devices in mind? If not, you won’t be making the most of the opportunity the medium presents.

Measurement counts
Make sure that you understand the implications of your mobile media plan on your ability to measure – viewability, brand safety and ad fraud. There could be a big hole in what you are measuring which you’re not aware of, so ask the right questions.

Find your audience
Even though you might be targeting an audience that is very relevant to your brand, the environments they appear in on mobile devices may not be where you expect, or where you would want your brand to appear. Make sure your media agency understands, and are open about, where your ads are likely to run.

Cost and quality
Consider both the cost and the quality of your mobile inventory. Too narrow a focus on cost risks a considerable drop in quality, while an overreliance on high quality inventory may lead to spiralling costs and campaign objectives not being met. It’s important to monitor these elements and link them back to delivering return on your media investment.

If you take all of these elements into account, then mobile can be a very effective environment for advertising. You just need to understand it, ask the right questions, and make it work for you.