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Niki Stoker, UK managing director, Exponential

I don’t think that anyone was surprised to see double figure growth for digital again in the IAB Ad Spend Results for H1 2012.

As consumers spend increasing amounts of time online and expect a more personal and enriching brand experience and advertisers strive to deliver that customer experience while delivering a real and measured ROI, digital advertising will naturally continue to grow.

Neither did I find the growth in mobile ad spend (132% growth year on year) surprising. Back in April, I said that 2012 would actually be ‘year of mobile’ as consumers, marketers and the technology aligned to create the right environment for mobile advertising campaigns to thrive.

What did surprise me was of the £181.5m we are spending on mobile only 20% is being spent on rich-media – an increase of only 2% year on year.

Audiences generally use their smartphones and tablets in one of two ways – to either access information quickly on the go or to fill what the MMA calls “dead-time”, time when you would otherwise just be waiting around.

Filling “dead-time” makes mobile the perfect platform for rich-media and mobile advertising is bleeding creativity. So why are we seeing such a low spend on mobile rich-media?

The reality is mobile marketing is still in its infancy. There are no IAB-approved formats yet, ad-serving for rich-media can be expensive and everyone trying to make meaningful partnerships without really knowing what that looks like. Traditionally, when we don’t fully understand something we stick to what we know and in the case of mobile that’s standard display, which grew 46% in browser on mobile year on year.

Also, CTR on mobile is strong – around 2.7 times higher than the average desktop according to Efficient Frontier – and given the current economic climate, running a strong performance-based campaign on mobile is understandably appealing. But to leave mobile as a display and response only tool feels like it’s selling the medium short.

Advertisers need to step outside the status quo and test the limitless creative that they keep talking about.

Mobile and tablet offers us the opportunity to develop a campaign that is not only visually but physically interactive. We can touch, swipe and tap through the creative and be genuinely engaged in a way that we can’t be on a desktop.

A lot of the hesitancy to explore these new formats available on mobile and tablet is unwarranted, particularly in working with established digital partners. While the medium may be new, the audiences and the formats aren’t.

They are the same audiences that we have been observing and engaging with online for the last 10 years. We know their behaviours and how to build rich-media creative that they’ll spend time with. We are essentially taking what we’ve learnt already about their online behaviours and apply them to the mobile online environment.

As advertisers get more comfortable with the mobile formats and understand that much of our knowledge can be transferred from the web to the mobile web, we’ll start to see more rich-media campaigns that reflect the creative and engaging capabilities that mobile web can unlock which can only be a good thing for consumers and advertisers.

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Published 12 November, 2012 by NMA Staff

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