Last month, iMedia published my article, "5 ways we're still botching mobile," in which I interviewed experts in the space about areas where mobile is falling short. Since then, I've gotten feedback from other industry participants concerning what's not being botched. They were eager to publicize the better side of mobile, and so I invited them to answer a few questions. While only two were interested in this proposal, their responses were thorough and informative. Here's what they had to say:
Lucia Davis: What do you find most exciting about mobile?
Jennifer Noonan, partner, Mobigirl Media: Right now we think mobile is going to play big in the curated e-commerce space around niche categories. Sites like PopDust, Pink Clouds, and The Fancy show that there are amazing new opportunities for brands to begin to look for incremental new e-commerce opportunities at the intersection of social, e-commerce and mobile. It’s an interesting space to watch.
Bill Clifford, chief revenue officer, SessionM: We now navigate life experiences through a device in the palm of our hands which presents brands with the opportunity to connect with consumers in more personal, relevant ways than ever before. In my mind, mobile is the media of moments. Brands who can identify key moments in the consumer’s journey through content and life experiences and amplify these moments by adding value will create lasting connections with consumers. The location awareness of mobile devices, the fact that it is always on and always with us, the connectedness of mobile all create a perfect storm for advertisers. It's going to be incredibly exciting to see how new technologies and platforms enable brands to advertise in ways that are both scalable and native to the device over the next couple of years.
Davis: You got in touch after reading my article in hopes of spreading the word that not everyone is botching mobile. Still, a significant contingent remains out there, frustrating consumers with interstitials and irrelevant messages, and giving mobile a bad name. When do you think the industry tides will turn and leave these bad practices in its wake?
Clifford: I think the tide is turning right now. We've reached a tipping point in terms of consumer adoption and time spent with mobile. In the last year, most major media companies who broadcast a major live event saw more traffic on their mobile sites than desktop for the first time and that was a wake up call. The stakes just got a lot higher, and the market is going to respond quickly to address what is currently a broken ad experience so that ad dollars can more efficiently flow through mobile. A critical first step is to realize that disruptive advertising like interstitials and banners will not cut it. Consumers expect relevant advertising that adds value to their experiences and we are working with several major media companies to create scalable ad solutions that consumers will respond to.
Noonan: It’s already starting. While every business has practitioners who execute badly and always will, success will come to the companies who work backwards from what the consumer wants and that won’t go unnoticed. This business has always been more of a meritocracy than most businesses selling products to consumers and the ad networks that will have the staying power will be those who provide the consumer with the best possible experience. We are already seeing movement in that direction and that trend will only grow as the competition for the consumer’s attention becomes more intense.
Davis: Can you give me an example of how your company is shunning the practices highlighted in the article?
Noonan: The most elegant solutions are not always the most technical. Sometimes they are simply human. In an increasing confusing and crowded app landscape, we were trying to find a way to satisfy parent's desire for privacy and age-appropriateness, developers' desire to monetize their apps, and a girl's desire to have fun and discover new products and games.
Instead of trying to build another big ad network, we went narrow, targeted and personal, recruiting quality apps girls like to create a friendly, safe marketplace for advertisers to reach girls, and only girls.
The human factor is big around here, too, with every single ad and landing page being personally screened for quality and age-appropriateness - we're not big, we care about our users, our developers and our advertisers, and are constantly seeking to improve the experience and success for each, improving ad quality, adding saving and sharing features to allow girls to share discoveries with mom and friends. When you're in your targeted niche, you know that every impression is one that is relevant to your audience...in that scenario, we don't need to violate privacy or track folks every move across the web...we provide real value to advertisers while protecting girls' privacy!
Clifford: As tempting and easy as it is to plug in to mobile mediation platforms and tap into the gluttony of mobile banner and interstitial inventory out there, we chose a different path that results in a more compelling experience for both consumers and brands. Our platform is deeply integrated into hundreds of mobile apps enabling consumers to earn points and rewards for spending time with apps and interacting with content. When a user reaches an engagement milestone within an app, they collect points that are redeemable for rewards. At that moment, a brand can invite them to collect bonus points by interacting with their video or rich media content. On average 75 percent of consumers will opt-in to engage with the brand and ad effectiveness studies show that this type of engagement is lifting brand favorability and purchase intent more than any other mobile ad formats measured by Dynamic Logic to date. We can also help brands close the loop between an impression and a transaction. For example, we recently ran a campaign for HBO to promote their holiday DVD releases. Thirty percent of consumers who watched their 15-second spot, used their points to redeem a $5 gift card to the HBO store where they could then go on to buy the DVD. Our ad experiences are relevant, invitational, rewarding and can convert hyper-engaged users into brand advocates and purchases.
Davis: Excluding your company's work, what mobile endeavors have impressed you lately?
Clifford: I like what Taco Bell has been doing. It is taking a "mobile first" approach with millennials and it wants to win moments that matter with the consumer. It allowed people to unlock exclusive ESPN content with in-store QR codes during college bowl season. It was the first national advertiser to integrate into the white hot navigation app Waze, luring users to a nearby Taco Bell with ads that appeared when the user was stopped nearby one of its locations. Taco Bell tries to exist 'in the moment' to maximize relevancy and impact.
Noonan: We really like what YuMe in Redwood City is exploring with a multi-screen approach to video advertising. Exploring how consumers interact with a multi screen approach, screen size and specific orientation delivery. They are researching the use of portrait and/or landscape orientation of ads to reach consumers in different frames of mind. Is there an “in the moment” immediate user response to a video ad in portrait mode versus a more laid back “lean back” mode in landscape mode? Are users more open to brand messages while viewing an ad presented in landscape mode? It’s very exciting stuff!