What’s Missing from Mobile Advertising?

Look around you. It doesn’t matter where you are. Waiting in line for a coffee? Sitting at the doctor’s office? Hunched over your desk at work? Chances are you’re in earshot of someone who is staring at a mobile device.

You might even be reading this blog post on your own smartphone or tablet.

We all know mobile use has infiltrated every facet of our lives. Mobile devices now make up 15% of Internet usage, compared with .9% in 2009.  That’s a massive increase — 1,567%, to be exact.

We are so connected, that even our laptops are no longer enough. We need content in the palm of our hands. Publishers and advertisers know that audiences are moving to mobile. They can look around at the coffee shop or the doctor’s office and watch everyone stare at their little screens and think – YES, mobile is the answer.

But mobile hasn’t been showing the results that advertisers and publishers should hope for.

Why is that?

The devices are ready. The eyes are engaged.  But mobile advertising thus far, has not turned over the expected ROI as marketers continue to grapple with collecting useful data, interpreting that data, and appropriately reaching this audience of phone and tablet addicts.

There are two big issues, here.

First of all: Targeting. Big data collection is a massive undertaking that many startups are chasing. The information available is endless, but how to compile that rapid stream of data remains a challenge.

Advertisers need that information. “Buyers naturally want some assurance they know the audience they’re reaching, and they can depend on the numbers that they’re using to plan their buys,” says Joe Laszlo, director of Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, in a recent article on Adage. Publishers can’t demand premiums on mobile placements if they can’t effectively profile the audiences.

The second issue is supply and demand. There is plenty of mobile ad space available, but not enough advertisers are buying it. Some predict this trend will only get worse. Stephanie Baghdassarian, a research director at Gartner, predicts that mobile ad spending will continue to slow as the supply of mobile websites and app space continues to grow faster than advertisers are willing to invest.

But there’s one ingredient to this stall in moving to mobile that hasn’t been given the attention it deserves, and that’s format. Mobile advertising has so far taken the same approach as what we see on our laptops — but the way we engage with our phones is much different, and requires a different approach.

“Mobile devices users employ different words when searching mobile devices (like “nearby”) and there are fewer branded searches than by users on desktops and laptops,” explains Peter Roesler on BizJournal.com. They need different types of information, and they need different ways to access that information.

Users need a button to make a purchase, or a map to find a restaurant. Mobile CTR’s are poor right now because these details are not being given the attention they deserve.

Flash is still limited and HTML5 hasn’t produced anything revolutionary just yet. We need a new approach.

MotionLead, a French company specializing in rich media mobile advertising, is taking on this challenge as their own. They’ve recently teamed up with French DMP leader, Ezakus, to create highly engaging and specifically targeted mobile ad displays. The ads are fun and interactive, and look more like part of a game than advertisements. Their use of LUA, a standard for video game programming, is giving them the flexibility to approach mobile advertising as a visually enticing, interactive experience.

We expect to see more and more of this approach, as targeting capabilities and the supply and demand for mobile space slowly catches up. It might take some time, but the shift is happening and mobile advertising is the platform of the future — as long as we learn to transition our approach.

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