March 19, 2014

Mobile Ads in Social Marketing

by Renegade


webster headshot 2Many consumers see mobile advertising as nothing more than an annoyance – irritating interruptions that appear as they scroll through their Huffington Post app or disturb their game of Sudoku. Webster Lewin knows we can change that. As the former Director of Mobility at Starcom MediaVest Group, Lewin believes mobile ads are not only useful, but can and should become the primary focus in social marketing planning of the future.

Getting those flashy banners to attract rather than deter consumers will require smarter use of customer data. With more than 15 years in the business to back him up, Lewin can be confident in calling out creativity and relevancy as the two major keys for creating more successful mobile advertising campaigns. He let me in on some of his ideas for improving the way we approach mobile ads:

Drew:  You provided a couple of examples of “great mobile ads we haven’t seen.”  For the purposes of my blog, can you provide a mini-summary of one of the cases and share why you think it was so effective?

I am highlighting two mobile campaigns that I really liked for different reasons (and wish that I had done). The first is one currently running on the iAd network for GIECO called the Money Badger. To me it represents the height of production value of any mobile display unit I’ve seen to date. The team at CDG Interactive used stop motion photography to create something that’s on par with a TV spot.

The other campaign that I really liked appeared on and was for Motorola’s Moto X smartphone. The ad, like Mashable’s website, uses  responsive web design to provide a seamless and compelling experience across a range of devices via a single ad and a single ad tag.

Drew: When you mention mobile advertising to people outside of the industry (i.e. normal people!), they roll their eyes in annoyance.  How do marketers make sure that mobile ads aren’t simply another source of disruption we all try to ignore or avoid altogether?

I think the keys are creativity and relevancy. So, agencies, publishers and brands need to keep pushing for better experiences. Also, as an industry we need to discourage the increasing use of deceptive mobile ads that try to trick users into tapping on them. They only exist because people focus way too much on CTR, and they will poison the well for everyone else.

Drew: Asked differently, what are three key components of a great mobile ad campaign?

Flawless execution from start to finish, targeting the right consumer at the right time in the right way, and offering something of value.

Drew:  It’s been the year of mobile for the last 10 years yet mobile still feels like a bit of an after thought for many brands.  First, why is it so important that marketers put mobile at the center of their planning process today?

Mobile is where the eyeballs are moving to, desktop usage is declining. Consumers are using mobile while they are shopping and while they consume other media, so figuring out how to use mobility in media plans is essential.

Drew:  Mobile at its best seems to be integrated with data (social, local, CRM) which then allows for a very personalized mobile experience. Can you each give me another example of a brand that is doing this well and what it took to get them there?  

I think that Samsung and Walmart, and some of the large CPG brands are really starting to make smart decisions about how to use location and past purchase data in targeting. Retailers are focusing on location data, both real-time and historical, to better target customers and potential customers. I’ve seen that I personally have been targeted by Samsung base on my actual location, around the launch of their Galaxy Gear smartwatch, and I ended up heading over to Times Square that day to check it out. CPG brands are less better positioned to leverage location data as their product are sold in so many places, but they can target using purchase history via Catalina and other data.

Drew:  You provided examples of mobile experiences when a person was indeed using a mobile device on the go. Seems like this is one aspect of mobile. The other aspect of mobile device usage is when we are stationary in the office or at home using a 2nd and 3rd screen. Should marketers look at these situations distinctly and create campaigns specific to that usage scenario? 

A lot of brands are now using various methods to target consumers when they are actually at home, using wifi IP addresses. Also, prime time TV viewers are being actively targeted now on Twitter, and Facebook via sponsored posts. If you are on Twitter during any major TV event, you’re certain to see ads that drive to mobile friendly experiences.

Drew:  You used the expression, “if it doesn’t work on mobile, don’t do it!” yet this is far from the reality.  What are problems that happen when marketers tack on a mobile campaign versus building all programs around it?

When the experience from start to finish isn’t fully planned out and tested on mobile, things inevitably fall apart. I can’t even begin to tell you how many mobile campaigns I see that don’t work the way they should. It’ really unfortunate, because many clients don’t realize that they are just creating a very bad impression of their brand.

Drew:   It seems like we won’t be distinguishing between mobile and stationary media consumption in the near future.  Assuming you agree with that scenario, how will this effect media planning/buying?  Will mobile still be its own thing?

Even when audiences are bought across multiple devices, the experience the consumer has with each of their devices is quite unique. So, I think that responsive ad units are one of the ways that marketers can ensure that they are efficiently reaching everyone, yet still providing an experience that is tailored to each device. Also, when it comes to rich media, there are some things that you can do in mobile that you just can’t on other devices, click-to-call for example.

Drew:  How do you see mobile evolving in the next 2-3 years?  What are the most exciting new or emerging trends leading edge marketers should be experimenting with now or really soon? 

I think targeting data and especially targeting based on location data will be the biggest ways that mobile ads will become more relevant. Also, mobile creative is just now coming into its own. As more digital creatives see mobile as their primary focus, we’ll start to see more really amazing campaigns.