Opinion Piece: What is broken with Mobile Marketing?
Mobile advertising still remains elusive, but this can be fixed. Service providers are still struggling to serve proper ads through their mobile platforms. Currently, these sponsored ads are better suited for time sensitive events rather than for awareness-building efforts where they fall short with scarce user engagement. Why is mobile so important to brands? Quite simply put: it is the one display medium we carry with us at all times, and most importantly, its there when we are mobile, on the move and away from our home.
The formula is quite simple:
The more personal the delivery, the more valuable the engagement.
Advertising ultimately has one goal – A call to action, or an invite to purchase. Mobile advertising is expected to be highly effective because people are better positioned to follow-up on these invitations. And yet the large content providers are not successful at delivering this. Why? It’s the very same reason these advertisements should be so effective – the device itself. Think about your phone. Most of us cringe by the thought of loosing it, having it stolen or seeing it broken and its not just because we paid a lot for the device. In this day and age, mobile phones have become such an important aspect of our lives that most of us simply can’t function without them. The mobile phone is a tool for communicating, a tool for knowledge and a tool that we carry with us everywhere because it became very personal.
What does all this have to do with marketing? Everything. Most advertisements work this way: You are interacting with some content of your choice (TV show, Magazine article, walking down the street, etc…). The advertisement’s main responsibility is to interrupt or disrupt what it is you were just doing. It is there to hijack your attention and focus it on a product. While this doesn’t bother most of us when we see a sign, driving on the highway (except when it distract us from the thing we’re supposed to be doing, i.e focusing on driving) advertisements do seem to annoy most us when they jump in front of a show we were just watching on TV. The more personal the format gets, it seems, the more annoyed we get when an ad pops out and disrupts our attention.
With mobile phones it gets even worse. Think of how angry we get when we get a text message such as “Buy new ringtones! $1 each visit www….” From a sender “444444”. How did they get my number? Who is “44444”? And most importantly how did they get on my phone?!? Believe it or not, mobile phones are now considered such an extension of ourselves that getting advertisements on these devices is the equivalent of having someone shove a piece of pamphlet in our face when you walk down the street, or an unsolicited vacuum-cleaner salesman trying his best getting inside our home. In short, the invasion of our personal space is something none of us take lightly. Remember the simple formula we’ve introduced above? Great. Consider this one:
The more personal the medium through which the ad is delivered the stronger the negative reaction towards the disruption.
Advertisers should ask themselves if the negative reaction towards the advertisement is really worth it, especially when a brand’s image is on the line. Sometimes the adverse effects of that negative experience far outweigh the opportunity for discovery. That is, indeed they might discover the product that is being advertised, but there will be a long lasting, lingering odor of negative associations with that engagement. The engagement you’ve hoped for, becomes enragement. Can mobile advertising be fixed? It certainly can! It can be fixed in one word (although executed in many lines of code) and that word is gamification. Digital advertisements have a huge advantage to them – Unlike print, TV or radio, they can be interactive. The opportunity at hand is not to make these ads pop up while we interact with content, but to make them as part of the interaction, if not the main event itself. The question remains: Why would people want to engage with these interactive advertisements? The answer lies within the incentive for that interaction. That is the benefits the person interacting with the ad stand to gain.
As a marketer or a brand manager, you ought to ask yourself why you pay content service-providers to distract people, and in the process risk creating negative experiences with your brand where you can directly reward people for targeting your advertisement and interacting with your product – where the discovery is purposeful, positive and more importantly, focused on your product rather than served as a disruption to one’s engagement with their desired content.