Mobile advertising has certainly crossed the "hype" barrier and entered media planning budgets for 2011 as a proven medium that delivers both credibility and excitement. This past year, we have seen people access content equally through mobile apps and mobile browsers, depending on the convenience offered by each platform. Brands have performed various experiments, including million-dollar campaigns with the Apple iAd, rich media ads with startups, and extending Google Ad Sense inventory to mobile apps. Ad agencies are now focusing on perfecting their mobile strategies for their clients next year, and facing the critical decision of whether to invest in mobile apps or the mobile web.
I've heard time and again from ad agencies that they didn't achieve expected results in their experimentation with mobile rich media ads within mobile apps. Why? This issue is primarily related to reach vs. investment and technological limitations.
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Perceptions: Mobile app vs. mobile web
The perception in the advertising industry is that mobile apps offer brands more opportunities for engagement with users than the mobile web. I would certainly agree that mobile apps offer more opportunities for direct response or brand marketing, but a mobile web browser can offer the same level of engagement as an app.
Considering the sophisticated internet browsing capabilities available on smartphones and mobile tablets, and the rapid innovation and introductions of smart devices hitting the marketplace, the mobile web offers equally compelling opportunities for brand engagement with a mobile user. The challenge for the advertiser is to filter out the "mom and pop" inventory from the highly engaging, premium media. Advertisers must focus on creating relevant messaging that compels consumers to interact with brands, either within mobile apps or on the mobile web.
The challenge: Fragmented mobile platform ecosystem
2011 is the year for delivering enhanced mobile brand performance
While planning mobile campaigns next year, agencies must focus on getting their brand message out to as many relevant consumers as possible, across both mobile apps and the mobile web, and across all mobile platforms. Here are the most important criteria for enhanced brand performance:
- Create an ad once, deliver it to any mobile smartphone or tablet
- Achieve consistent interaction across all mobile platforms
- Ensure delivery of the right ad format to the right device
- Repurpose internet assets cost effectively for creating mobile ads
- Reach consumers across many ad networks and publishers
- Target inventory that is relevant
- Guarantee superior rich media ad experiences across all platforms
- Provide a consolidated view of ad performance across publishers and ad networks
- Verify ad performance, independent of the ad network(s) or publisher(s)
When should you utilize a mobile app vs. mobile web strategy?
Sometimes a mobile app will be more relevant than the mobile web to convey the brand message. Take for example, a sports-based mobile game, in which users play in online or offline modes on their mobile phones or iPod Touch. In this case, the best ad format is a video ad displayed during different game levels to reinforce the brand message for a sports genre advertiser.
On the other hand, the mobile web might offer the perfect vehicle for direct response marketers in the consumer packaged goods business, by leading the user to the point of sale near his or her current location. The best ad format in this case is a mobile coupon delivered to the mobile web user at the targeted geo-location.
Brands need to formulate a 360-degree mobile advertising strategy for mobile to achieve its objectives. It's almost 2011. The mobile device is no longer a limiting factor, and neither is engagement on the mobile web or mobile apps. The onus is on the ad agency to identify the right mobile advertising strategy -- apps or web -- and the appropriate technology partners that can enable their brand clients to reach the most relevant users while maximizing the ROI on mobile campaigns.
Srini Dharmaji is the founder and CEO of GoldSpot Media. Follow him on Twitter.
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