2017: The Year Mobile Ads Got Great

2017: The Year Mobile Ads Got Great
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In this guest piece, Richard Knott (pictured below), APAC regional director, at Celtra analyses how mobile advertising has fared so far this year, and outlines what brands and agencies need to do gain an edge over their rivals in this space.

Richard Knott

For mobile ad creators, the last few years have definitely been a challenge.

But in the first few months of 2017, we’re already seeing a significant turnaround in both the quality of adverts and how businesses are approaching their messaging on this most critical of devices.

So, what’s caused the change?

It’s simple: businesses are putting more effort into creating exciting, engaging and ultimately effective material.

We are witnessing a turn towards mobile ads that are infused with a new sense of purpose and an understanding that ultimately, creative ads built specifically for their chosen format will win the day.

We’re seeing improvements in three key areas:

Advertising quality is on the rise

No one appreciates an uninspired advert that loads poorly and isn’t properly formatted for the device and channel on which it is delivered. And while it is true that historically, programmatic buying has driven a lowest common denominator attitude to creative, with many businesses reusing content across devices without any customisation or tailoring, the tide is changing.

We’re seeing a greater emphasis on consistency. Mobile ads are no longer seen as something to outsource to multiple inventory suppliers to build their own variations because they ‘do it for free’.

Concurrently, by bringing their creative in-house, businesses can ensure a consistent brand message across ads. Data can be applied to the creative, which allows for storytelling to be developed cohesively, enabling a deeper connection from the product to the individual experiencing the ad.

This is especially true with video, the format most consumers prefer and overall, the better way to tell a brand story. For instance, there has been an increase in the number of videos now filmed in vertical formats, without sound, and including subtitles – meaning fewer consumers will switch them off when they show up in an auto-play context within a news feed.

These videos are also becoming easier to produce. Creative production technology is now available that enables the build of high-quality video ads quickly, and will be a key driver of continued growth of video ads and a better user experience through the rest of the year.

Moving away from disruptive experiences

One of the biggest annoyances for anyone watching streamed video content is having the entire experience interrupted with lengthy pre-roll ads. Similarly, any display ad that blocks the content isn’t just annoying – it’s seen as rude.

Consumers are pretty fed up with this and would much prefer to see ads that are native to the mobile user experience, that don’t interrupt the content, or at least appear in a way that complements, rather than distorts, the message of the content in general.

This is exactly what we’re seeing to take hold.

Recently, Time Inc. published a Southern Living ‘ad’ featuring a video with note cards on how to make red velvet pancakes. Rather than annoy, this ad was shared millions of times and the video still lives on as branded content on YouTube and on their own site.

Already in the first quarter of the year, we’re seeing advertisers focus on ads that leverage creative technology to produce engaging, polite material that respects the viewer’s experience.

Ads are becoming more relevant

Consumers expect ads to relate to them – not by promoting a product they recently purchased, but by intelligently considering their interests and their environment.

Fortunately, the treasure trove of third and first-party data now available enables advertisers to personalise their ads like never before.

We’re seeing this continue in the first quarter of the year, with ad messages being more and more personalised. Baked into programmatic creative tech is the ability for hundreds, or even thousands, of ad variants to be created and the optimal one to be served based on a huge range of factors: weather, consumer background, and more.

The biggest change in 2017 so far has been the growth in simple yet powerful tools that do away with the need for code in order to expand the use of these highly-personalised ads. And with more creative being run in-house, these ads are more likely to be tailored to the right audiences.

So, we’re off to a good start for the year – but a word of caution is required. The gap between advertising leaders and laggards will continue to grow, with laggards continuing to churn out uninspired, annoying ads that fail to win over consumers and fulfil business objectives.

Based on what we’ve seen so far this year, brand leaders and the agencies serving them need to rethink their entire mobile ad strategies to build a competitive advantage.

Mobile advertising has failed to deliver its full potential before, but the shift towards more exciting and engaging ads will help usher in a new era – and businesses will have to keep up.

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