Nick Marsh: mobile will never reach its potential until creativity becomes as important as targeting

Nick Marsh is VP sales and marketing EMEA of international mobile ad network Mojiva. Here he looks at how too great an emphasis on targeting allied to insufficient focus on creativity is leading to disappointment for some mobile advertisers.

Remember when online advertising was seen by brand marketers and agencies as something new, unfamiliar and lacking real proof points of its validity or capability for success? Well, it’s now many years later and digital has firmly cemented itself into the minds and budgets of advertising professionals around the world.

Now it’s mobile’s turn to be looked at with trepidation and distrust because there’s still a lot of learning that needs to happen to understand what works, what doesn’t and how to do it well. While a recent IAB research shows a tremendous surge in mobile advertising with Western Europe experiencing 91 per cent growth in the last year, the metrics of campaign success just aren’t measuring up…yet.

When it comes to mobile, we’re often focused too much on layering on targeting down to the most specific user. The creative used in the ads often becomes uninspiring, thus leaving marketers wondering why their campaign’s success metrics have dropped.

The tricky part is making sure that campaign targeting parameters are balanced with strong creative ideas Why? Because for the most part, striking that balance directly impacts the results. You can’t put a half-assed idea together and expect it to shine because of stellar targeting. Audiences want relevancy, but they also want a message that is going to cause them to react in a positive way to develop not only a sale, but brand loyalty.

Social in itself does a fantastic job of creating an ongoing two-way dialogue between brands and their consumers. Now more research from Nielsen and NMI has surfaced proving something we’ve known for a while – the most engaged consumers on social networks are also the ones accessing the platforms on their mobile devices. In fact, 46 per cent of social media users use their smartphones to access social media, while 16 per cent do so via tablet devices. But there need to be better methods in place to measure its effectiveness and role within the wider marketing mix.

I’ve seen some instances where flash sales are posted exclusively on social platforms, as it gives their dedicated loyalists a reason to stay just that – loyal. However, those metrics can only be seen after some time, so looking at an immediate ROI on social is pointless. Marketers need to tier out their activity into short, medium and long term ROI and identify how to measure that effectively.

A lot of people think creativity a secondary in the data driven world, especially when it comes to designing ads for smartphones and tablets. But it shouldn’t. Messaging is just as important, if not more, in mobile advertising as it is in other forms of marketing (i.e. TV, print, online).

At the end of the day, factors like recall, favourability and purchase intent can all impact a brand’s bottom line. Are consumers more receptive to ads with an entertaining and amusing message? By looking at these stats, you can then tailor both the strategy and creative execution of your mobile campaign to convert brand loyalists (and new users) into purchasers.

Yes, the landscape is fragmented. However, that problem can be addressed by marketers and agencies pulling their over-arching strategies together, and gluing all the pieces together to make better sense of the puzzle. There must be more of a cohesive, creative balance – otherwise, mobile will never reach its full potential.

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