How to Develop a Good Mobile Advertising Strategy

For advertisers, mobile represents a conundrum. On the one hand, they can see the shift to mobile on the part of consumers. On the other, they are not sure what works, and they have been unwilling to commit dollars to mobile advertising without some research.

However, the rubber has met the road this year. It is no longer possible for a marketer not to have a mobile strategy, and it is incumbent on them to take risks, jump in and see what works.

Here are some things to think about as you formulate your strategy:

1)The tablet and smartphone are not the same. A consumer makes a choice to pick up a tablet. When that that user opts to pick up the tablet, she’s making a choice to consume content. By this time, most people know that when they consume content, they’re going to run the “risk” of seeing advertising, because most content is still ad-supported, no matter how much Millennials hate that notion. So advertising on tablets is somewhat expected, although video ads that auto-play should be avoided.

2)The smart phone is a different story. The consumer carries the smart phone on his person all the time. She doesn’t always opt to consume content. Sometimes she just opens an app, perhaps to make a shopping list, perhaps to play a game, perhaps to check her bank balance. There are millions of apps out there, only a small fraction of which have enough users to make advertising likely. So the user is not yet accustomed to in-app ads.

3) Smart phone advertising in an app, especially if it isn’t contextual (have something to do with the app itself or a related pursuit), is easily perceived as intrusive. It may be thought of as a violation of privacy. Buying in-app advertising isn’t only a matter of how many active users an app has, but of what ads the app’s user will tolerate.

4) All this is in the process of being thought out by the best creative and engineering minds in the business — a union of marketing and technology that’s necessary for effective smartphone advertising. Some pioneers, such as Foursquare, have been trying it for a couple of years. Location-based ads do seem to work best, because they’re clearly contextual: the consumer is “in the neighborhood” of the geo-fenced area, and might be willing to entertain an offer.

5)There are possibilities for other ad formats in and around apps, so long as they are not intrusive. All of them will demand superior creative so as not to be negatively received.

At ZINC, we’ve spent the past year developing new mobile video formats, which we are beginning to demo to agencies. One of them, InArticle video, is already running in several major campaigns. Another, a video format that runs when a user closes or minimizes an app, is just coming to market.

We’re looking for the innovative agencies who will match creative to these formats and score the big early wins in mobile.