How to break through the mobile ad clutter

You already know the stats on mobile: As smartphone and tablet adoption continues to grow, mobile devices will eventually outnumber desktop computers in the next few years. Chances are good that marketers will shift more of their ad budgets to mobile as well.

But it's not enough to just be doing mobile. Even though mobile advertising is still fairly new, some key best practices have emerged. In fact, here are five key pieces of advice I would give to anyone who wants to conquer mobile.

Target shoppers at home

Most early mobile advertising targeted shoppers while they were shopping or on the move. This commonly came in the form of "geofencing," which allowed retailers to reach shoppers within a tight radius of a store. However, this approach not only limits your ad campaign's scale, but it also assumes that shoppers primarily use their mobile devices while on the move. This isn't necessarily true -- many shoppers use their phones and tablets at home while they're watching TV or making dinner. In fact, Nielsen found that up to 84 percent of Americans use their mobile devices while watching TV at least once per month

Going even further, remember that it matters more where the shoppers come from than where they are. For example, let's say that the local mall includes a store that sells camping gear. If the store were to send out a "geofenced" message, it could be lost on shoppers who have no interest in camping (and are at the mall for other stores). The store could reach far more relevant shoppers by targeting neighborhoods that over-index for interests in camping. In short, focus on relevant shoppers rather than just where consumers are at the moment.

Keep your placement in mind

First, consider the types of inventory you'll buy. This comes down to testing and experience. For example, you might find that some shoppers respond better to ads in mobile applications. Or, you might discover that your shoppers don't use apps at all, but are avid mobile web users. Just ask your digital provider to track responses across application and mobile web buys to consider where it's best to spend your mobile ad budget.

Second, make sure your placements don't conflict with your brand. You might consider brand-safe sites for your digital ad buys, but have you thought about the same for application ad impressions? For example, you won't want to advertise health food on an application for an unhealthy fast food chain. Just remember to take the same care of your brand on mobile as you do on other channels.

Consider the convenience factor

From restaurant recommendations to movie times, mobile devices have made everyone's lives more convenient. Keep the convenience factor in mind when it comes to mobile campaigns and incentives. Consider offering mobile coupons, mobile loyalty programs, and click-to-call functionality for your mobile visitors.

Make sure your mobile site works

Customers expect a seamless mobile experience, yet some top companies lack mobile-responsive sites. There's little point in buying the perfect ad placement if you'll only frustrate users with a broken or difficult website. So make sure to think beyond the click to account for the entire mobile experience.

Break through the clutter

With mobile, it's even more important to make sure your ads stand out to your target audience. Often this requires thinking outside of the box to try something a little different. For example, Spanish ads on English sites can stand out to Hispanic audiences, making them an ideal placement for brands trying to improve market share among Hispanic shoppers.

From mobile loyalty programs to mobile-responsive design, advertisers have quite a few options to make the entire mobile experience more engaging for their customers. And as mobile devices and advertising options continue to proliferate, it won't be enough to just be mobile. Advertisers will have to provide the best possible mobile experiences to break through the clutter.

Amy Gittelman is head of East Coast sales at MaxPoint.

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Comments

Wade Kingston
Wade Kingston February 27, 2014 at 1:10 AM

Excellent tips, though I would also add that the ad format being used should be carefully considered. Go way outside today's box, so to speak. Native mobile ads are going to be very impactful, for example, just like we're seeing with mobile video ads today. With a good ad network (like Airpush or Millennial Media - forgot the stale, aging giants like AdMob or iAd) this shouldn't be problem. Awesome article, Amy!

Adam Tuttle
Adam Tuttle February 26, 2014 at 11:51 AM

What about the creative itself? Far too many buyers/planners just re-purpose a crappy static image banner and then expect positive results. Mobile is a whole new medium and so you must embrace the uniqueness of the opportunity and use creative that grabs the user's eye and effectively conveys the message. That is not going to happen with a static ad unit or a few image animation.

It's been 20 years since the banner was introduced and here we are still serving the static jpg images to the vast majority of mobile/tablet users! Nothing increases performance more than great creative. Today, its not only possible to break through the noise, its easy and cost effective if you use the right tools and vendors.