The future of mobile advertising: how agencies and marketers must adapt

Marketers and agencies must drastically transform their mobile advertising strategy in 2013 if they want to succeed.

According to a new study from Forrester, seven out of ten mobile users say that automatically served in-app advertisements are disruptive. Two-thirds of respondents label these ads as annoying and 88% say they aren’t engaging.

This study is one of many I’ve seen this year confirming that mobile ads aren’t resonating with consumers. Most of these reports call out mobile ads for not being relevant, interesting or valuable to the user. For example, in November, we posted about an Adobe survey, which found that 45% of respondents prefer to see an ad in their favorite print magazine versus the 0% that prefers to see an ad in a mobile app.

For agencies and marketers, effectively using mobile advertising is both a major challenge and an opportunity in 2013. Mobile cannot be overlooked. Each brand needs a unique approach on this channel for many reasons, but for starters because it’s here to stay.

Here’s what you need to know to convince execs that a mobile strategy is no longer optional: 

Mobile has quickly become the media platform of choice for Millennials. Smartphones allow us to stay in constant contact with friends and family, have ready access to data and information and be able to be productive or relax at any given moment. If you’re looking to reach Millennials, mobile is the way to do it.

Consumers now use mobile phones to purchase products more than ever. This Cyber Monday, mobile transactions accounted for 22% of online sales, an increase of 100% over last year. Retailers cannot overlook this trend.

The good news is that at the very least, most companies are considering a mobile marketing strategy. Some have actually done a phenomenal job using apps, mobile-optimized websites and smartphone deals to reach consumers. But there’s still a long way to go.

According to the TNS Mobile Life study for 2012, many Chief Marketing Officers say it’s no longer OK for companies and marketers to just watch and wait. Experimentation is central to the mobile approach for many brands, with an emphasis on ‘learning by doing’ across marketing and business operations. Urgency is the keyword here.

In order to stay relevant and reach consumers, marketers and agencies must research, plan, develop and execute on their mobile strategies. And after it’s all said and done, they must find a way to serve users ads that aren’t annoying, obtrusive or irrelevant. It may be tough, but it’s necessary.

Another key point from the Forrester study for marketers/agencies to know is that:

“A significant portion of mobile users were open to mobile ad targeting based upon their personal interests (49%) and current location (43%).”

Consumers tolerate ads that have some sort of tie-in to where they live or what interests them. But with the rise of “Do Not Track” and Ad Choices, which allow users to opt out of behavioral targeting, it might be time for marketers to go back to the drawing board.

One idea, which is already being used at Google (no surprise!), is to treat consumer data as a currency and offer incentives for it. The company Enliken is trying to give users the ability to edit, control and prioritize the data they want advertisers to see, making the data richer and more valuable. If an ad is more relevant to the consumer, it’s not as annoying and can supply the user with information he/she is actually interested in.

But targeted ads still need to look good! Ten years ago, banner ads faced a similar dilemma. They had to back out of the scam-like ads offering free trips to the Bahamas, and start incorporating strong creative, interactive visuals and unique storytelling. Advertisers and marketers should take note.

Those three features, coupled with targeted content, can help elevate mobile to a new level of advertising in the coming years.

How will your mobile strategy evolve in 2013?

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