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Mobile Advertising’s Challenge

August 30, 2012

Yesterday, the Mobile Marketing Association issued a bullish report(surprise!) based on some primary research it had conducted, it suggested brands were under-investing  on mobile advertising based on the amount of time people are spending on their devices.

It’s basically the same line of argument as Kleiner’s Mary Meeker raised in her internet trends presentation from earlier in the year.

Chunka Mui in a piece yesterday on got straight to the heart of the issue by looking at mobile from a couple of different angles; firstly Facebook’s future depends on mobile ad success, but since it isn’t hard-wired into the corporate DNA, this could be a tough ask and basically the company open to a challenge from a company that really gets mobile.

Chunka’s second angle referenced a brilliant post by Jean-Louis Gassée, (the founder of Be, the forefather of Palm) who clearly calls out the difference between advertising on the PC and that of the mobile.

“Mobile ads aren’t merely smaller, they have less expressive power, they don’t seduce…and they’re annoying. Of course, there’s more to the smartphone misunderstanding than the fairly obvious screen size problem. There’s also a matter of how we use our computing devices. When we sit down in front of a laptop or desktop screen, our attention is (somewhat) focused and our time is (reasonably) committed. We know where we are and what we’re doing. With smartphones, we’re on the move, we’re surrounded by people, activities, real-world attractions and diversions.”

If brands are going to succeed on the mobile platform, they are going to have to go about it a very different way.

  1. The advertising format just has to be more compelling- this means more creativity in the design – basically this need to be blown up a re-thought
  2. Simply embedding TV ads into mobile units isn’t the solution either
  3. Those creating mobile ads need to think about the possibilities of the technology- what does the hardware and software allow for? how can the content be more dynamic and relevant to the user?
  4. The user needs to be better understood and to be factored into the design. Since the premise of the mobile device revolves around usefulness and entertainment, perhaps it would be good to start there and ask the question how can be brands be either useful or entertaining within the context of mobile? It’s not simply about taking something that works in another environment and making it work for mobile, but with deep user understanding, relevant brand solutions can be created from the ground up.

Everyone knows that mobile has potential, but it’s probably not of the size of scale that the MMA or Mary Meeker believe and despite us living with the technology for a while and the considerable $$$ being spent on innovating both the hardware and software, the same level of investment has not yet been spent on understanding how users might interact with brands on their devices, so perhaps now is the time?


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