Mobile advertising is beginning to live up to its promise. There is so much innovation at the moment that it's hard to find a more exciting place to be. But as with all beginnings, a million things still need to fall into place before mobile fully evolves.
In order to drive growth, education is vital. We must to continue to educate and evangelize about mobile's range of advantages to marketers and agencies.
Then we need to deliver the goods. In order to do so, we have to establish a more scalable framework where the creativity and special features of smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices are not being compromised.
New ad formats are a given when it comes to achieving this goal. Embracing the ecosystem's desire for richer brand marketing that speaks to mobile's unique requirements and benefits, one of the Interactive Advertising Bureau's key initiatives of this year is the Mobile Rising Stars contest. Winning ad format concepts were revealed a few short weeks ago in Miami Beach at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. These winning ad concepts will go through a development, deployment, and testing process and, with success, be inducted into the IAB standard advertising unit portfolio, the definitive standards for the digital advertising industry.
Intended to work across all major mobile platforms and allow mobile ad buys at the same scale and scope as typical online display buys, the Mobile Rising Stars have the potential to finally allow mobile a chance at a proper seat at the "big boys'" table. (Besides, what kind of "big boy" doesn't have a few mobile gadgets by his side at all times?)
Rising Stars Principles
In establishing the Mobile Rising Stars winners, we sought formats that were clear in conception and natural for consumers, media companies, and brands alike, as well as being attuned to the unique aspects of the smartphone and tablet world. Thus the rising stars include units that translate seamlessly between a device's portrait and landscape modes, and units where swiping is a primary means of interaction.
In some cases, these mobile units echo or resemble the IAB display rising stars (the filmstrip, for example), which makes perfect sense. A "family resemblance" can help creative agencies accelerate the development of great ads. However, the IAB did not simply force-fit display ad units to the mobile world - just recycling the same formats onto smartphones and tablets would miss the mark, leaving some of mobile's greatest advantages behind.
MMA and Standard Banners
Standard banners will continue to be an important form of mobile and tablet advertising (just as they are on PCs), and the IAB crafted Mobile Rising Stars to minimize the possibility of conflict with the existing Mobile Marketing Association guidelines for banners on handsets.
When MMA ad standards are revised, the IAB is happy to comment, and, in fact, has endorsed its latest "Universal mobile ad package."
As with display ad banners on personal computers, ad banners on mobile devices are not sufficient to give the full range of canvasses that marketers want and need to deliver different kinds of ad messages and to achieve different kinds of campaign goals. Something more is required. Several "mores." That's why we are establishing five different Mobile Rising Stars units - something to suit every occasion.
Identifying the Mobile Rising Stars winners was in many ways just a first step. We now need to work with all the winning companies to transform the winners from ad concepts into actual scalable ad formats that a developer can implement in an app or on a mobile website.
The refinement and next steps for the Mobile Rising Stars ad concepts go hand-in-hand with IAB's continued work on mobile rich-media ad interface definitions (MRAID), the IAB's standardized set of rich media APIs for mobile. We will ensure that all the Rising Stars ad concepts can be implemented using industry standards like HTML5 and MRAID. No proprietary technologies should be needed to support these ad units.
If all goes well - and our Mobile Rising Stars align - I can picture mobile sitting pretty at the "big boys'" table very, very soon.
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Anna Bager is vice president and general manager of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence at the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The Mobile Center, an independently funded and staffed unit inside the IAB, is charged with driving the growth of the mobile marketing, advertising, and media marketplace.
Prior to joining the IAB, Bager was heading business intelligence at Ericsson Multimedia and head of research at Ericsson's Business Consulting unit. Earlier, she was research and consulting manager for IDC EMEA.