With mobile commanding a greater slice of advertising budgets, along with higher expectations for return on investment and a broad scope of performance KPIs, the focus is no longer on mobile adoption, with an estimated 95 percent of Americans now owning a cell phone and spending upwards of five hours per day on their devices.
The challenge in the mobile arms race is how brands, large or small, deep pockets or mom-and-pop, will spread their wings with innovation and immersive technology to create and sustain more meaningful and impactful consumer experiences.
With today’s unprecedented audience targeting capabilities and data-driven, micro insights into consumer behavior, down to which apps they have installed on their mobile devices, advertisers can more accurately deliver messages and creative storytelling on their products and services that resonate with key audience segments.
According to Simon Wong, VP, Strategy for Sabio, a provider of smart mobile advertising solutions for major brands and agencies, the future rests in the hands of consumers and their ability to control and personalize experiences with the brands they trust the most. The Immersion team had an opportunity to get Simon’s thoughts on new emerging technologies, what industry jargon is over-hyped these days and needs to be debunked, and why mobile’s future is bright. Read more below.
What is the biggest challenge for mobile advertisers today?
Now that the industry is fairly mature and no longer progressing at such a rapid pace, the biggest challenge is the ability to stand out from the crowd. With an overabundance of on-demand content and everyone fighting for the same eyeballs, it has never been more important to listen to what the user wants from an advertising and content perspective. What content are they searching for, and what is the ideal format for experiencing that content? Are there latency issues? Are there issues with comments and how they’re provided? Our goal is to really improve the quality and value of the advertising we put out there.
Which emerging mobile technologies are transforming consumer expectations and setting a new bar?
Using more human sensory experiences to really bring the whole story together for an audience is key right now. Radio was auditory, then video introduced a visual experience, and now touch technology is the new interactive sensory experience advertisers can use to tell a more meaningful story. There are more possibilities than ever for creative developers to bring more heightened sensory ad experiences to consumers. If someone added a sense of smell to a McDonald’s ad, it would forever change advertising as we know it. Once a consumer expects those types of sensory experiences as they interact with ads and really understand the product, then there’s no turning back for the mobile industry.
What specific trends do you see with mobile ad content?
The first trend I’m seeing is that the multicultural line is being blurred. You don’t necessarily need a Spanish language creative to resonate with Spanish speakers. An English language creative targeting Hispanics can be just as effective, and advertisers are just now experimenting with this concept. There is more population diversity today, more inter-racial marriages, and more second-generation immigrants in the U.S. A large majority of those people will learn English through our schooling system and level the multicultural playing field for advertisers. The main reason you should keep Spanish language creative is if you’re specifically targeting first-generation citizens.
The other trend on my radar is the need for supply curation. It’s something everyone should be looking at. Fraud, brand safety, viewability, etc., have been hot-button issues in the last two years. Essentially, they fall under the same umbrella of supply curation, which is incredibly necessary due to the vast amount of content available on the web. We’re all relying on partners to help us filter the good stuff from the bad players, as well as the malware trying to game the system and make a fast buck. But everyone should do some filtering on their end. We don’t want to turn a blind eye to this issue.
If a user’s app ecosystem is key to advertisers, how can those insights be leveraged as the Holy Grail of the future?
Having those types of data signifiers are similar to the bookmarks you keep on your desktop browser, and they can tell everything about a user. So in that way, mobile data really is the Holy Grail of the future. Any data insights that can be derived from the user in a mobile environment is incredibly useful information for understanding behavior in general.
Can you share an example of a really amazing mobile experience you had recently?
A lot of recent innovation has been around mobile video. The video units I really like are the 360-degree ads where you can move around in an almost virtual reality-type setting, giving the user control over the ad itself. I find this really compelling. Ad products and experiences that give the user some control over what they see and experience with the ad are really driving innovation in our industry, and I expect to see more and more of this moving forward.
Are there generational shifts in how the advertising industry is perceived?
There are generational shifts in the sense that a certain upbringing amongst a large group can stereotype that whole generation. In the case of Millennials, most of them have grown up with more wealth and higher living standards than the previous generation. This enables them to take more risks and focus their energy on only what they believe is worthwhile. By extension, they care about the brands that align with their values the most while disregarding the rest.
This type of generational perspective requires advertisers to provide all the options and alternatives that a specific generation might expect. There’s been a lot of mistrust of what’s true and what’s false in our industry, with the advent of fake news, for example. No one knows who to trust anymore, and that resonates strongly with Millennials. Advertisers need to be aware of these generational characteristics and take the time to ensure that Millennials and other generations believe in the value of their products or services and then let them decide for themselves.
How has advertising creative evolved over the last couple of years?
Advertising in general has always been about bringing new experiences to elicit emotions through storytelling. The biggest milestones in advertising dating back to the 1900s have been through new technology that engages our human senses. The advancement of programmatic was focused on trying to hit the right user at the right time, but it wasn’t focused on what to hit the user with. Somewhere along the lines of trying to find the best audience through data-driven means, creative got left behind. There are still marketers out there that put creative feedback at the bottom of the priority list, when in fact it should be at the top because good creative has the ability to convert a non-interested consumer into a high-value customer. Now that programmatic has matured, the focus is back on the creative itself. Creative will come back to the forefront as what drives great advertising.
How are you using touch technology for your clients?
In the competitive ad tech landscape, you always want to stand out and be unique and tell a story in a different way. Touch technology enables this. For example, using it for our auto clients makes a lot of sense when we’re trying to show what it’s like to be in a certain car, to drive it, to feel the power of the vehicle. That’s something you can’t share through visual or auditory means alone. Touch technology introduces a whole new level to the advertising experience.
What is one of the biggest setbacks the mobile industry has experienced in the last year?
Fraud, transparency, and brand safety issues have all really affected the confidence levels of advertisers and the ad tech industry in general. There is no standardized solution to feel confident about right now, but we hope to resolve that in the near future.
What’s an over-hyped word in mobile ad tech that you’d like to debunk?
Many ad tech folks use the term A.I. to stand out and appear trendy. With it being a bit more commonplace now, I think we need to understand that we’re really talking about Machine Learning or Applied A.I. as opposed to General A.I. when it comes to advertising. As marketers get smarter, I’m interested in how companies use Machine Learning technology instead of simply throwing it out there as a buzzword.
If you could change one aspect of mobile’s trajectory, what would you say to your industry peers?
We don’t get enough feedback from users of advertising and mobile content in general. So many advertisers just assume what consumers want and hope for the best. Then we run into a time in our industry when ad blockers are being widely used, and that should come as no surprise. But is anyone really listening to what consumers want? They need more control and more options, and we need to give them what they want in order to create sustainable relationships that benefit us all.