How to reach the male demographic on mobile

The 18- to 34-year-old male is one of the most sought after demographics for marketers to engage with -- yet also one of the most elusive to reach. On mobile, this task can be even tougher, with advertisers battling with smaller screens and shorter attention spans. But when executed properly, mobile marketing can be one of the most effective ways to reach such a valuable group of potential customers. So here are some quick tips on how to do it.

Think "mobile first"

There are still too many examples of brands and media companies working backwards. In other words, producing content and campaigns for legacy business models -- like TV and print -- and then porting them across to mobile in the hope they translate just as well. Usually, they don't, and this makes for a poor user experience on mobile and a wasted opportunity to engage. Adidas Philippines understood the importance of interactivity and being mobile-first with its campaign to promote the launch of a new shoe in that market. Adidas went "beyond the banner" with an interactive HTML ad unit that allowed users to simulate running through difficult terrains and conditions. Users also had the option to play a game using their fingers on the screen to simulate running in the new shoes. With any mobile marketing campaign, particularly one aimed at the 18- to 34-year-old male, you have to work extra hard to earn the attention of customers. And you'll only achieve this by creating a truly mobile-native experience that maximizes its potential and keeps the user fully engaged.

Be relevant

It seems obvious, but you must understand who your audience is, what apps they're using on mobile devices, and -- most importantly -- what is going to resonate with them. All too often you see mobile ad campaigns that have little to no relevance to the typical person using the app. At best, they're pointless; at worst, they create an unwanted distraction and negative user experience. So give them something that they'll understand and, ideally, want to actively engage with. Taco Bell has regularly succeeded in mobile marketing by ensuring its campaigns carry relevancy. For example, the brand  recently ran a series of iADs that included a location-based tab that reminded customers of a discounted drink when they were close to a store. This also allowed them to save a reminder to their calendar or share the promotion using an animated GIF. It meant they were exposed to the brand when they were in the area, increasing its relevancy as well as the likelihood of driving a sale.

Entertain

Most people use apps on their mobile device for two reasons: to act as a utility by solving everyday problems (think Evernote and Google Maps) or to entertain themselves with mobile games during those moments when they're bored. Research has shown that the 18- to 34-year-old male is one of the most likely demographics to pick up a mobile game, so providing entertaining content is integral to harnessing the attention of young men on mobile. You need to strike a balance between being entertaining and promotional, and keeping them coming back for return visits. A great recent example of this was McDonald's partnership with the NFL on its Runner Football Dash game. This was the perfect mobile experience, combining an addictive game with brand marketing that struck the perfect balance of being visible, but not overly intrusive. It also had great viral potential, and because users could customize their runner with their favorite team's colors it also had great "stickability," because fans were able to personalize it and make it feel like a special and unique experience. Mobile gaming makes the most of those "found moments" -- when people are killing time. And this game perfectly met this need.

Make them smarter

Most guys love trash talking with friends. So "weaponize" them with stats and information that makes them smarter than their buddies. For example, at theScore we were asked by Jack Link's to create a customized mobile campaign around the company's "Feed Your Wildside" promotion. Knowing that mobile users tend to dip in and out of content in shorter bursts rather than sit down and experience it for hours at a time, we developed dynamic content around our baseball coverage, with Jack Link's sponsoring real-time "snackable facts" about MLB teams and players that the user was actively following in the app. Users could then engage further by clicking on banners to unlock short videos that contained various baseball trivia. This content was optimized for consumption on mobile in terms of design and format -- short, succinct, and targeted to baseball fans. And, crucially, it armed them with stats and facts to impress their buddies at the bar.

So, to summarize, brands need to understand that the way people consume content on mobile is completely different from any other medium. You need to deliver relevant, entertaining, and informative content that is "mobile first." Otherwise, you risk missing out on reaching the very target audience you're aiming for.

Ethan Ross is senior vice president of sales at theScore.

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