At this point it should come as no surprise that mobile advertising is seeing significant year-on-year growth to many of our clients and interested parties. In other blog posts I’ve talked about how this growth, whilst still in its infancy, will play a key role in shaping the future of how publishers monetize this content and how the topic as a whole has become a hot-button issue amongst analysts in predicting how the future of digital publishing plays out.
Generally speaking, digital advertising methods have been a double-edged sword for publishers – They’ve ensured new revenue channels, but there has been some unease about the transparency they provide advertisers in terms of metrics relating to click-throughs and so on. Some web-advertisers felt, as a result, that advertisements were overvalued and this pushed them down.
The most recent figures from the Internet Advertising Revenue Report published by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) puts the year-on-year increase in tablet advertising revenue ending in June at 25%, a significant figure and significantly above most expectations. In spite of this, it’s worth noting that mobile advertising still lags behind when you consider the exponential growth of the devices themselves, and the time spent on them, both within web browsers and within apps, so a lot of this growth is essentially a case of mobile advertising making up the slack from more traditional sources of digital advertising revenue as advertisers become more confident and develop strategies to deal with what’s still a new ecosystem with its own set of requirements for solid ROI.
Yet in spite of the extensive media coverage there’s still a general lack of understanding of how to game it to one’s advantage as a publisher, so it’s worth explaining for the benefit of our clients and others how best to approach the issue of advertising revenue channels in rapidly changing digital landscape.
Let’s establish some of the basics of advertising success on mobile devices. The common refrain that content is king applies to advertising no less than other aspects of creative media, this means that to generate any kind of a return on your advertising investments, they have to be innovative – They have to take advantage of the new methods of interfacing with mobile and tablet devices without falling into the trap of feeling overly intrusive and bloated. If you take a look at Ad Age’s “Top Interactive Ads” feature it immediately becomes apparent that the most successful interactive advertisements successfully negotiate a middle ground between capturing and holding a reader’s attention (e.g. through a 360 degree view element of some kind) and not being overly intrusive vis a vis the reading experience of the publication as a whole. Marcus Startzel, of Millenial Media, explains how this approach can be used to help leverage video advertising on tablets as a concept:
“What is so unique about mobile, however, is that brands can go now go one step deeper, and build on their video ads to drive additional engagement. Having consumers physically interact with video content is something that is unavailable in any other medium, and this is a tremendous opportunity for advertisers.”
Secondly, advertisers must take advantage of these new ways of conveying information interactively to counteract the inherently low trust many consumers have in mobile and digital advertising in general, attempting to use medium of the tablet to resuscitate this negative, often annoying image digital advertisements carry. Referring again to the examples given by Ad Age, one way of approaching this is to give the consumer a brief interactive demo of what the product is within the advertisement. Naturally, these sorts of script and design-asset heavy advertisements will require significant investment of time and resources compared to simple picture-based assets. So alongside the need to negotiate a balance between interactivity and intrusiveness, there will be an internal need amongst advertisers to budget strictly for any such endeavours, keeping a keen eye on investment costs and analytics, whilst not losing sight of the less trackable metrics, such as exposure, that analytics often do not capture.
Thirdly and finally. Publishers themselves must adopt long term strategies that attempt to take these projected increases in mobile advertising revenue into account, as mentioned earlier, building “freemium” models around this will become a key aspect – but not the only element. Key to emphasize here is that an ad-hoc approach towards advertising as a revenue channel year-on-year must be shied away from.
Mobile advertising has the potential to become extremely influential, but this is contingent upon publishers and advertisers working in unison, and attempting to build a new paradigm around new form factors and inputs instead of recreating flawed existing ones on different devices.