What is mobile advertising really?

My experience in the industry has shown me that when people talk of mobile marketing, they are talking of one or more of the following:

  • Buying banner advertising on mobile sites and popular apps
  • Creating a Mobile Version of your Website
  • Building a Mobile App to accompany your Marketing Campaign
  • Sending out of Bulk SMSs
  • Optimizing your brand to appear on Mobile Search Engines

This fuss has been created by unprecedented proliferation of mobile devices, which precipitated a whole new mobile content industry that consequently diverted eyeballs to mobile screens as opposed to traditional content sources like TV and print media.

Advertisers were caught unaware for the most part.

Their profits were largely pegged on the millions of viewers they could guarantee brands access to with exorbitantly priced TV Ads and full-page print ads. Of course, the natural reaction would be to find out if there was a way of monetizing this new content medium; and behold, Mobile Advertising came into the picture.

Is Mobile Just Another Content Medium?

Letโ€™s get something clear.

Mobile is a very personal space, much more intimate than my e-mail inbox (which advertisers have already defiled).

Despite the growth of the industry and the innovations that came with this growth, the mobile phone has remained primarily a connection tool. It connects me to family, friends, business associates and everyone and everything else that I care about.

We use it to call, text, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, play games and since Youtube got optimized for mobile, we now use it to watch and share funny clips. Then apps came, and now we use it to download interesting apps that add flavor to our otherwise boring lives.

Most if not all of us, donโ€™t have the time or money to waste on drab marketing communication from brands during our cell phone โ€˜Meโ€™ time.

Facts Only

  • The average click through on a mobile banner in Africa is 0.1%. i.e for every 1 Million times your Ad is displayed on mobile devices, only 1,000 people click, often to download a coupon!
  • Mobile display ads are so ineffective that they only fetch advertising platforms a minuscule $0.75 CPM, compared to $3.50 for desktop, according to the 2013 Internet Trends Report by Mary Meeker.
  • One of the most respected research firms in the world found that 70% of people find mobile ads intrusive and annoying.
  • The same report goes on to say that most respondents seem to agree that โ€œmobile advertising really sucksโ€.

For a brand to be welcomed into this space, it must have moved heaven and earth, or alternatively, promised me heaven and earth in exchange for the privilege. The question is, is the low ROI worth the effort and budget for brands?

Do This Instead

If you really insist on intruding on peopleโ€™s Mobile screens, hereโ€™s a few ways to go about it:

  1. Pay people for it โ€“ One of the fastest growing mobile marketing companies in the world sells one simple product. They help companies pay people to receive their corporate communication. No, Iโ€™m not talking cash handouts. How about some airtime or internet bandwidth?
  2. Join the mobile content market โ€“ This footwear company scored it big by creating an app that people could use to track their fitness regimen, and made $500 million more revenue with $50 million less advertising spend. This beer company created a mobile community of football fanatics with the promise of giving them first hand access to Football Legends. They got 2 Million people to register. This insurance company creatively used Mobile and Google Streetview to promote its brand, and got 800 million user generated impressions 20 months after the campaign was over.
  3. Connect People to your world using their phone cameras โ€“ Have you heard of Augmented Reality, QR codes, Snap Tags, NFC Tags etc? Yes, this growing group of connection technologies that give users the option of voluntarily connecting with your brand thanks to the promise of benefiting in one way or the other from the resultant experience.
  4. Go big on mobile friendly social โ€“ Post interesting updates on your social profiles that can get shared by your fans and consequently end up on their friendsโ€™ mobile newsfeeds. Forget links to your blog and 3rd party sites. Mobile is instant, so if your content cannot be consumed directly from my newsfeed, you are wasting my time.
  5. Be contextual โ€“ One of the most distinct advantages of mobile is its ability to create location based experiences. Doing an experiential campaign at a mall? Create a Wi-fi Hotspot for mall visitors to download coupons or register for a raffle on your site. Activating at an event? Create a Facebook Places VIP Pass Hunt for attendants to win a chance to hang out with the performing superstar.
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