How to Advertise on Mobile


When was the last time you clicked on a banner ad?

jr little global head of innovation carat global carat canada mobile advertising mobile communications mobile marketing

Now, when was the last time you messaged, commented or posted on a social platform? Chances are it has been a long time since you chose to click on a banner ad, yet you have likely messaged or commented on a social platform in the last hour. This behaviour is why it’s important for brands to be culturally relevant to consumers, especially as mobile becomes the dominant consumer touch point.

A couple weeks ago I spoke at a conference in Stockholm entitled, Mobile Mecca. The event consisted of presentations and panel discussions by professionals from media businesses, start-ups, clients and agencies. What occurred to me after the day was that few of us – other than Apple, Facebook and Google – are winning in mobile. I can’t help but feel that many of us are obsessing over tech capabilities and missing the bigger opportunity. In order for a brand to win in mobile today and tomorrow, it must play a relevant role in their consumers’ cultures.

Brands have always sought to increase relevancy in consumers’ lives – every given brand has at some point briefed an agency with comments like, ‘we want to be iconic’ or ‘we want to be a lifestyle brand’. Good luck with that. Most brands think they will become relevant if they get their compelling ad in front of consumers – many still believe that the right creative idea combining the perfect messages and imagery will sway thinking and behaviour. The problem is, consumers are way too savvy for what traditional advertising has become – fairy-tale storytelling. Consumers simply don’t believe the marketing jargon anymore – in fact they hate it. Their bullshit detectors have never been more refined. Today for brands to win they must deeply listen to consumers unmet needs and only speak or act when the they can be most helpful. The days of shouting sugar-coated exaggerations into relevancy are very much over and the tsunami of smartphone adaption, and the social media usage it fosters, is changing everything we know about marketing.

Let’s look at mobile for a moment:

  • The average person spends 5 hours online each day; most of that time is on mobile devices.
  • There are around 3.5 billion connected devices in the world today, and at least 1.4 billion of those devices are smartphones.
  • The average consumer opens their phone between 150-200 times a day.
  • Consumer screen time has increased 500% in the last 3 years.
  • 88% of mobile time is spent within 5 apps.
  • Mobile is now 1/3 of all digital traffic, including search and video.
  • 62% of Ad-spend growth next year will come from mobile.

The above facts prove without a doubt that mobile should be on the top of all our minds. Clearly Google and Facebook are two of the stronger players today. Google covers almost all web-based search traffic whereas Facebook covers almost all app-based traffic. While things can change quickly, it looks like Google and Facebook will remain the dominant players into 2016. So where is the opportunity if two players have defined the near-term marketplace already?

The opportunity is the same as it has always been – inside people to people trust by building cultural relevancy.

Here are a couple more facts to consider:

  • Over half of time spent on social is on mobile, and increasing.
  • No matter the marketing objective – word of mouth is the most powerful driver of action.
  • Consumers are much more distrusting of social ads than any other form of traditional advertising (TV, Print, Radio, OOH).

This means that to influence word-of-mouth, we must be within the mobile social universe in a way that does not feel like advertising – brands must be in the content, not the periphery (e.g. promoted posts, banners and pre-rolls). However, the hard part is determining what consumers are talking about and connecting that to brands in an authentic way. That’s where listening comes in. Today, the great marketers are listening to the data to deeply understand what matters to their consumers and in return, they are only providing them with content and experiences that are deeply helpful – and yes, entertainment is helpful when it prevents boredom and delights. This means that brands have to completely rethink the marketing process from speaking at their consumers about what they want to say to listening to consumers and understand what they care about most. Only after listening deeply should brands then prompt consumers through speaking or acting. In doing so, brands are much more likely to see their actions (post, response, content, etc.) be embraced, discussed and shared by target consumers – thus creating the all-powerful word-of-mouth impact.

In the words of Phiuong Nguyen, Head of Advertising Ebay UK, “listen and whisper instead of blast them [consumers] jarringly”. What I love about Phiuong’s quote is that he uses passive terms like ‘listen’ and ‘whisper’. If we consider the ‘listening’ tools and products at our disposal today, we start to think about search, social affiliations and social listening data, and in terms of the ‘whispering’, we start to think about native advertising, content suggestions, brand ambassadors, and so on. The ‘listen and whisper’ analogy implies we must deeply understand the consumer and give them subtle and helpful touches of communications and interactions that will in time build their trust, loyalty and advocacy. So what is a marketer to do if they are not already listening with the intent of helping their consumers? Think of yourself as working in customer service more than marketing and listen intently to the mobile data, it will whisper the way forward.

By JR Little
Global Head of Innovation at Carat

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

Photo credit: Pixabay

References: eMarketeer 2015. Google Insights 2015. Nielsen Global Survey of Trust 2014. Carat CCS 2015

jr little global head of innovation carat global carat canada mobile advertising mobile communications mobile marketing
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