“Mobile ads suck,” claimed Steve Jobs in 2010. They needed, according to Jobs, to be more creatively appealing and engaging to be effective.

Has the industry changed? Do mobile ads still suck? Or has creativity in mobile marketing caught up with demand? 

Here are my 10 essentials tips for creative mobile campaigns.

Mark Zuckerberg declared Facebook a mobile company earlier this year, and claims that ads need to be integrated to Facebook mobile if the advertising model is to succeed. Shrinking an ad and sticking it on Facebook isn’t going to cut if the majority of people seeing it are seeing it via an embedded app on their iPhone or iPad.

Is it worth the focus? After all, we’ve been told that this is the year for mobile for at least five years now. But the ubiquity of 3G, the advent of 4G, an increase in tablets and the increase in smartphone use (around 52% of UK mobile users own a smartphone, and 28 per cent of UK internet usage is from a mobile phone) combine to say the next three years really are all about mobile.

But the critical thing isn’t about just diverting your ad budget to mobile, but about integrating mobile to the bigger marketing picture.

We do things differently on mobile phones and tablets. We use them while watching TV: Nielsen’s report ‘Global Trends in Tablet and Smartphone Use while watching TV’ revealed that 78% of us in the UK use a smartphone while watching TV (known as ‘multi-screening’), with 24% doing so several times a day. Soon it will be impossible to think of TV advertising or sponsorship without thinking mobile, too.

Getting creative

Some mobile campaigns still suck. But I think Jobs would have been pleased to see a mobile category at the Cannes Lions this year.

Mobile Grand Prix winner, Coca Cola, had mobile at the heart of its campaign, but a very real interaction at the edges of it. Hilltop Re-imagined let you use a mobile to buy and send a can of Coke to a stranger passing a modified vending machine the other side of the world- and, importantly, the recipient could record or write a message to send back to say thank you.

The key to creating a great mobile campaign lies in ‘thinking mobile’ rather than just designing an ad that fits one of the (new) standard ad formats for a phone.

A mobile phone is the most personal of devices – it comes with us everywhere. It’s about interaction. Which, research shows, increases the chance of a sale.

MediaCom research has shown that after just 30 seconds of interaction with a mobile ad, the likelihood of a purchase increases by 6%. This increases by 20% if a user is engaged by the ad for 90 seconds.

We no longer want to passively view. We want to do.

Top 10 considerations when creating a mobile campaign

  1. Why are you choosing mobile? Is it to tick a box, or because the campaign really demands to be mobile? Have a clear reason for going mobile, and approach it by thinking like a mobile user. Keep an open mind. The mobile platform is currently very dynamic and what is seen as ‘king’ today, could well be a ‘has been’ very quickly.
  2. Budget properly for mobile if you want to see results. Include mobile optimisation as part of your budget considerations. Mobile isn’t just an add-on to other campaigns, and you need enough budget to make it work well.
  3. Don’t just shrink an online creative and assume it’ll have similar results. What drives engagement for users online may not work on a mobile. And what works on a mobile may not work on a tablet. We expect different things from different devices.
  4. People use mobile differently from other devices – if you can carry it with you, it’s more personal. Users expect instantaneous actions. If something doesn’t hold their attention, they’ll move on quickly. Think about tablets as well as mobiles – people use tablets differently to mobile phones. Images can be bolder and more complex, and research indicates that spend is higher (particularly for luxury goods).
  5. Location matters. Google says 50% of mobile searches have local intent, which implies that localised content will be more relevant to your mobile campaign.
  6. Can your campaign be shared? The beauty of social media campaigns is their sharing potential. Is anyone going to want to share your mobile campaign and if they do, can they?
  7. Don’t think of mobile as a completely stand-alone campaign – how does it integrate with everything else you’re doing?
  8. Make sure your site is optimised for mobile devices. You could have the best mobile campaign in the world, but if your site isn’t up to it, it won’t work.
  9. Make the experience interactive and engaging. You sales team will thank you for it.
  10. Don’t forget to include a clear call to action. If you want people to buy over mobile, make the process simple and fast.