Rob Hall’s the CEO at new mobile creative ad-tech company PLAYGROUND XYZ and he’s on a mission to get a better deal for mobile and mobile ad spend.
Hall, who previously worked at Big Mobile for six years before going out on his own in late 2015, believes there’s an enormous disconnect in eyeballs versus ad spends for mobile in Australia and not enough people in the industry are raging about it.
Hall tells B&T there’s no one route cause of his disquiet and points the finger at a number of contributing factors – restrictive creative, unenthusiastic agencies, brands and clients uninspired by what’s on offer; even industry bodies’, who Hall believes, measurement model has become outdated.
He says PLAYGROUND XYZ works with the three core parties in any mobile ad – the user, the agency and the publisher – and declares “we decided to innovate because someone had to do it”.
Hall agrees that a lot of creative agencies simply aren’t keeping up with the the latest mobile tech on offer but adds: “I think tech just changes so fast the these days that that’s more the problem.”
He says: “I don’t blame the creative agencies for being unenthused about what you can do on mobile currently. Their gripe is they’re forced to work with these tiny little rigid boxes but if you give them the right tools, the right canvases they do get excited.
“Mobile (from a creative’s perspective) comes with a lot of limitations, it’s always been this horribly rigid box for them to operate within, but tech’s changing that, we’re offering new ad formats outside the old boxes they’re used to.
“The fact is that mobile’s going through the batshit crazy scale; it’s all about mobile, mobile’s the future and the only question left to ask is why have the ad dollars not followed consumers?
“Sure, the agencies drive the agenda of how ad dollars are spent and across what channels. We’re never going to tell them to shift money from TV to mobile. But I still think there’s a huge dollar disconnect between the amount of time people spend on their mobiles and the ad dollars, it’s still nowhere where it needs to be. If you take a look at the time people look at, say, a bus ad, a magazine ad and a mobile ad, then the dollar figures are way off,” Hall says.
Another problem, Hall argues, is that consumers are reticent about ads taking over their smartphone screens (take our aversion to pop-ups, as an example). He says we’re fine with it on, say, TV, where “we’re so conditioned to have two-minutes of telly for every minute of ads we watch that no one questions it anymore, no one even questions the interruption. But you do that with mobile and everybody’s freaking out.
“TV’s all sight, sound and movement, that’s what it’s got going for it; but the secret to mobile is to build the ads around the way people are using the device and that means shorter, sharper ads, not asking the user to do things that they’re not reasonably going to do,” he says.
Mobile ads can also go the other way and be too clever for their own good. Hall says he recently saw an ad out of the US that turned the user’s voice into Mr T when they spoke into their phones. “Who in the right mind is going to be sitting on the bus doing that?” Hall asks. “The context about how we think about ads on mobile needs to be about how they use their phone: you get in, you get out, you’re very objective. On your desktop you’ve got five different tabs open but on mobile it’s a far more linear experience, it’s not such a concurrent experience.”
Hall agrees that mobile’s rise won’t be to the detriment of every other medium, but, he believes it will be the screen we all go to first.
“Yes, it’s about the actual devices and increasingly we’re blurring the lines of what’s a computer and what’s a phone.
“We’re increasingly seeing the interaction between mobile devices and the Internet Of Things and smart devices.
“As your smartphone becomes your go-to screen the natural evolution will simply be peripheral devices that support your smartphone and that’s the challenge for agencies playing in this space, understanding and keeping up with that,” he says.