The success of mobile as an advertising medium depends on shifting people’s perceptions about what advertising looks like.
Consumers want choice, control and relevance if they are going to interact with a brand. If an ad’s easy to ignore, it will be; if it intrudes upon consumers’ content, they’ll naturally start to resent the brand that’s interrupting them.
Give mobile users choice over whether and how they view an ad, however, and brands can achieve the recognition (and even the affection) that traditional mobile advertising has so signally lacked.
A new generation of mobile ad formats is doing exactly this, and by empowering the consumer to choose whether or not to engage with advertising, is achieving stellar results in consumers’ brand recall and perception.
These are the US Interactive Advertising Bureau’s “Mobile Risings Stars” ,five brand-friendly units developed by ad agencies, publishers and other media organisations over the last two years and adopted into the official IAB Standard Ad Portfolio this June.
According to new research, the performance of the Mobile Rising Stars is the strongest evidence that creative ad formats far outshine traditional banner advertising.
The study compared the same advertising creative from cookie manufacturer OREO, displayed in both traditional banner and the six new Mobile Rising Stars formats such as the “Slider” and the “Film Strip”,
The study compared the ad interaction and brand uplift of static banners with Mobile Rising Star formats, which provide a mix of in-content, expandable, pushdown and overlay advertising, all incorporating rich media functions.
The standout finding from the research, for me, concerned brand recall: almost every user (98%) who viewed a Mobile Rising Star ad recalled the name of the brand advertised – almost a fifth more than those who viewed the standard mobile banner ad.
Furthermore, those who interacted with a Rising Star ad were 23% more likely to recall the brand messaging than those who viewed a traditional static banner. This is powerful evidence that consumers want to be able to control whether or not they initiate and interact with ads.
The more marketers respect this desire and enable user-controlled ads, the more consumers are able to engage with ads on their own terms, and the better and more memorable their experience of that particular brand.
In such a competitive, crowded and noisy marketplace, these figures for brand recall could be justification enough of the new ad formats – but there is plenty more this new generation of ad formats offer to marketers.
Interaction rates for Mobile Rising Star ads were almost double those of standard banner ads. They also inspire consumers to engage much earlier with the ad format, with consumers engaging with a Mobile Rising Star formaton average 26% faster than with traditional banners.
These results, highly encouraging as they are, only describe the influence that they have on consumers. They don’t explain how consumers feel about the new ads. And what is perhaps most revolutionary about these new forms of mobile advertising is that people actually like them.
According to the research more than half (57%) of those who viewed a Mobile Rising Star ad said they thought it was more fun than a standard ad, while two thirds rated the ad as “better or much better” than standard mobile ads. A similar proportion said that the new ads were more attention-grabbing.
As the mobile ad market has grown – up 148% in 2012 to £526m in the UK alone – the industry has come under increasing pressure to deliver ad formats that engage rather than irritate the consumer, and to justify ad spend targeted at mobile consumers.
It has long been known that the traditional methods of online advertising do not translate particularly well onto the smaller screens of mobile and tablets, while users’ attention spans and tolerance of ad intrusion are even lower on mobile devices.
Ever since consumers’ gaze started to turn from monitors and TV screens to tablets and mobiles, the big challenge for advertisers has been how to target and engage users who so often dismiss a banner ad on a mobile screen with a double thumb click that zooms the page to place ads out of view.
The philosophy behind the IAB’s Rising Star ad formats – giving more interactive controls to the consumer – is in my view the single biggest advance in improving engagement on mobile devices. But this does not signal a period that affords the industry to stand still.
The challenge of effective mobile advertising is the requirement of a double dose of constant creativity – in the ad concept itself, but also in maximising the functionality of devices.
Ad formats need to take into account the way that content is consumed on mobile devices, and how users swipe, tap, zoom and rotate devices. Ad technologies must respond to the unique characteristics of the mobile environment - in particular the small screen display.
Mobile ad formats must be compatible for each device and deliver brand experiences in response to the gestures consumers use on their device. Ads that respond to thumb-taps and screen swipes are just the beginning.
Consumers are used to a high degree of control over their mobile device, and this must be reflected in the ad formats they are presented with. Giving consumers direct control over whether they initiate an ad and how they interact with it on mobile devices means they are far more likely to engage fully with the ads, as they do so on their own terms.
What the research results confirm, however, is that such interactive brand experiences as those delivered by Mobile Rising Stars formats, make mobile ads vastly more memorable.