‘Mobilegeddon’ is here to stay so how do you build an ad strategy for a mobile first world?

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 12.14.39 pmThe media industry often talks about the importance of mobile but Vishan Jayasinghe argues social media companies are the ones best nailing the mobile format in the advertising space. 

So much has been made about the underinvestment of mobile as an advertising channel. The head of APAC marketing for Hewlett-Packard said at the recent Mumbrella360 conference that brands that have not optimised their websites for mobile are “driving with the handbrake on”. And broadcaster Mia Freedman lamented how mobile dominates the ‘time-spent’ stat, yet only received 15 per cent of advertising spend.

I don’t blame her.Even despite ‘mobilegeddon’ being here to stay, it still seems that the normal response to add mobile to a plan has long been, and will still involve, taking a tiny portion out of the usual display budget and using a poor quality gif, or the accidental click-magnet MREC.

Despite this, it seems like the online advertising market has changed, with most marketers actually gravitating to larger mobile spends almost at stealth, without even realising it. The digital online advertising market is essentially resetting as we speak.

This has been seen plainly through the incredible growth in Facebook revenue which has been mostly driven by mobile. This has largely been through the simplicity of their native newsfeed ads which has driven this uptake. The reason why most people don’t even realise it, is because the native newsfeed ad was originally sold in as a simple desktop solution.

It was a really neat trick Facebook played on us – something they are awfully good at. It’s almost like that Facebook environment has been the testing-ground for the mobile ad-strategy of today.

Accounting for the obvious targeting which you can apply with mobile and the complimentary role that it can play with other channels; the ease of running the native ad format on desktop, tablet and mobile with no change the creative shows why Facebook has become so dominant.

Not far behind are the likes of Twitter, Yahoo, Linkedin, Outbrain, TripleLift and AdsNative who all have what seems to be the ‘killer ad’ for a mobile first world whilst also being able to cater for all other devices. This part is particularly important given the crazy amount of device sizes.

This also applies to video which has the chance to break away from the usual TVC’s masked as 5-second True-View ads/15/30 second pre-rolls allowing the users to judge the success of the video in-stream, immediately with a swipe.

This native format has easily allowed these companies to monetise mobile as an ad-platform with relative ease, something that seems unlikely with desktop retro-fitted banner ads. This is not to say that rich-media mobile ads don’t have a place; if anything, given the access to location, accelerometers, retina screens and more, the possibilities for interactive display advertising on mobile are huge and mobile publishers luckily get this.

With the issue of a cookie-less world on mobile, the advantage of using the likes of Facebook, Twitter Yahoo and LinkedIn is even more demonstrated thanks to their access to unique user-IDs from people who have signed up to use their services allowing for genuine cross-device targeting and messaging. You can see quite quickly which publishers get ‘mobile first’ as a strategy.

These publishers are allowing marketers to develop an advertising strategy off the back of data what has been actually disclosed by users rather than from inferred data off a 30-day look back window as is so often the norm. Whether it’s a brand campaign or a performance campaign is irrelevant. The idea of buying for context has to be looked at a little harder given that these platforms are essentially user-curated sites now.

With these native ad formats and the likes of Facebook, Twitter and others who have the ability to target via their unique IDs, we have the ideal to way to execute mobile strategies on platforms which users spend the most time on; and whilst it isn’t allowing us to be particularly creative yet, platforms like Pinterest with their interactive ads give us a glimpse into the possibilities of great executions in the native format.

So it seems like we may actually have some practice in running a mobile-first advertising strategy after-all. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we see that 15 per cent ad spend as a distant memory come next year.

Vishan Jayasinghe is a digital manager at Australian agency Huckleberry and one of the 2015 Yahoo7 Digital Stars


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