Why mobile ads don’t rocket

Everyone who has ever been at any conference talking about mobile or digital, knows that mobile ad is about to receive big budgets. The problem is that the fact has been spoken about for a couple of years but the situation does not really change. There are still no big budgets in mobile advertisement.

We decided to find the reasons. The first question which comes to the mind is why mobile ad should be in demand. Why on earth would brands start spending big budgets on it?

The main motive is clear to all. The users spend a lot of time with mobile devices, so quite logical that brands should be among them. Here two options are possible.

  • The first is mobile activation, i.e. the one where a mobile unit is a key element. In this case mobile apps are used mostly.  Here we need exactly mobile users, so it would be logical to use the mobile ad tools.
  • The second option is adding mobile channel to the common digital communication. We did media online – now we will do it for mobile too. In this case we need all users; in fact, we just use a mobile channel as an additional one.

Mobile activation

Brand makes an app and wants to promote it. Mobile ad is an obvious tool. But for branded apps it doesn’t work in reality. Let us see, why.

Promotional apps

What are the promotional apps for brands? Most often they are promotional apps aiming to gather and engage the wide audience around the brand. But are there any examples when such an app became popular? Most often these are not very successful experiments of brands – the apps are not in demand, which can be easily seen from the level and a number of assessments. There are almost no examples of a branded app really popular among the wide audience. We can remember Nike+ RunningWaterslide Extreme from Barclays Bank or iFood Assistant from KRAFT, but they are unique phenomena.

Service apps

Another example is service apps from the companies that solve the applied tasks of the customers. It can be, for example, mobile banking for the bank clients, products catalogue for regular customers, or an app for taking part in the loyalty program. Such apps are really necessary but only for the brand or the company customers, not for a wider audience.

We see that mobile ad is not very effective for branded apps promotion, that is why it is not willingly bought. So, the second option is what we have.

Using mobile channel as an additional one

Suppose there is a seasonal event and discounts on the products are distributed. There media is run online on major sites and networks with right audience. In order to add mobile here you just have to adapt landing for mobile and draw mobile traffic. Here is where the problems emerge.

Market offers the brands the traffic from the “blind” mobile networks. Blind networks contain tens of thousands apps – mainly games and entertaining apps, various tools, flashlight, etc. By the nature of usage it can be compared with ad online on file hosting, torrents and similar content. Advertising in the blind networks we don’t know exactly where our ad is shown. Of course brands don’t like such posting, as they want to know what kind of audience sees their ads and where.

But there are also so-called premium networks – posting on selected high-quality sites. Advertising in premium networks an advertiser knows exactly where his ad is shown – in fashion magazine app or in Wall Street Journal newspaper. Of course, such posting is more attractive for him.

Here is also an option to buy the ad on mobile version of the site additionally to the big version. But there is little mobile traffic on certain sites comparing to big versions. Let us also add low conversions, as hardly anyone does a normal mobile landing in these circumstances. As a result – pain and frustration.

What should be done then?

Development of mobile ad is slowed down now mostly because of the lack of quality mobile traffic. But premium networks, uniting a great number of big quality apps, will grow. There are many of such networks already – Millenial Media, 4th screen (all in the Opera Mediaworks platform), iAd (Apple) and others. More traffic will come to mobile. Studios will learn how to make mobile sites, brands will quit playing with useless apps and happiness will come to our mobile world.

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