Despite the support of global brands, it’s fair to say that mobile advertising hasn’t taken the world by storm just yet. According to a report from Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker, 71% of revenue on mobile still comes from apps, while 29% comes from mobile advertisements. And even though we’re seemingly tethered to our phones, mobile ads comprise just about 1% of U.S. advertising spend. Ironically, these numbers may cause marketers to question the effectiveness of mobile advertisements and more importantly, why they should turn their attention towards the medium right now. It’s a vicious cycle.
But if we look at one internet giant that recently went public, there might be some hope. TechCrunch reports that Facebook’s mobile Sponsored Stories seem to be gaining some traction, earning 13 times the click- through rate and 11.2 times the money per impression when compared to its desktop ads, and 1.93 times the click-through rate and 2.65X the money per impression of Sponsored Stories on desktop browsers.
We are still very much in the early days but if Facebook can make it work, then other brands might take notice.
Advertisers must understand, though, that the war for consumer attention in mobile won’t be won by sticking with traditional ad units. Marketers who engage their users with compelling content that goes beyond conventional mobile advertising norms will be the ones to stand out from the rest of the pack.
What do I mean? Here are a few tips for brands, developers and publishers.
Big Brands – Leverage Unexpected Mobile Real Estate and Rethink Your App Strategy
There’s more to the mobile ecosystem than advertisements. Branded applications that are smart (more on that in a bit) can be just as effective towards the consumer. Apps from brands like Pizza Hut which generated $1 million in sales when in launched in 2009, prove that branded apps can work. Another great example is the Starbucks app – the mobile commerce element of the app makes it indispensable for users. In fact, during 2011, Starbucks says that the app generated $110 million dollar’s worth of card reloads.
The unifying thread between these apps is that they provide utility for the consumer, which is critical in today’s increasingly crowded mobile ecosystem.
Brands/App Developers – Think Like Publishers
Brands need to understand that in today’s environment they are more than brands, they’re content creators and publishers. The reason why big brand applications have failed is because they haven’t provided users with a reason to come back. Apps should be about more than providing news. They should provide users with the ability to share their love for the brand, as well, be it through photo, video or other rich media content.
Publishers/Advertisers – Be Ready for the Ramifications of Responsive Design
Advancements in HTML5 and responsive design will change the way content is displayed across all screens. With this huge industry sea change just around the corner, marketers will have to change how they approach mobile marketing – advertising units will likely change as this occurs.
Publishers who want to provide their users with engaging mobile content should consider the way they display their content and realize what outlets like USA Today and the Boston Globe have realized – that responsive design and HTML 5 are the future of mobile web development and as a result, the future of mobile advertising.
There’s no question that the mobile marketing space is going to grow extremely fast over the years to come. What isn’t 100% clear yet is whether apps or the mobile web will win the eyes and hearts of consumers. One thing is certain, though: marketers should bet on engagement and not just ad units.