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A Call to Marketers: Help Us Make Mobile Work

,   |  February 12, 2014   |  Comments

The Interactive Advertising Bureau has launched a new effort called "Make Mobile Work," calling on brand marketers to step up and embrace HTML5 as the key technology for creating engaging cross-screen ad creative.

Much of what the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) does on a mobile front, we do to make the lives of brands and agencies easier: reducing the friction, cost, confusion, or complexity of adding mobile to the media mix. In general, in our efforts to standardize mobile ad sizes and measurement, demystify mobile discrepancies, track the evolution of phone and tablet audience measurement, and others, ad buyers emerge as the beneficiaries, without having to do much except stay informed about what we're working on and push ad sellers to adopt, comply, or conform.

This week's call to action is a little different. For the sake of better, richer mobile and cross-media advertising, IAB has launched a major new effort called Make Mobile Work. And for mobile to really work - for mobile advertising to fulfill its potential - we need brand marketers to step up and help.

Today, half - or sometimes even more than half - of media consumption happens on mobile devices (phones or tablets) and increasingly we start on one screen and move seamlessly across others. Viewers assume that content can adapt to this behavior seamlessly, and that means that advertising must follow suit. After all, advertising is about solving a marketer's objective of reaching their customer and getting a message across. It's not about platform. Ad creative must render on mobile screens and/or across screens of different sizes. This does not always happen today, and as a result important messaging relationships get lost.

Marketers need to focus on this reality to ensure the success of their campaigns and brand building. We believe that giving marketers tools and educating them to ask the right questions will make this transition happen faster and more successfully. Make Mobile Work is a call to action and an educational outreach effort aimed at getting all marketers aware of, and excited about, HTML5 as the key technology for creating engaging mobile and cross-screen ad creative. HTML5 (which stands for Hyper Text Markup Language version five), is the latest revision of the industry-standard language for creating Web content. And while we normally think of HTML as being about creating entire pages, it equally applies to creating elements on pages, including ads. HTML5, a dramatic improvement over its predecessors, enables mobile ads that are better, richer, more dynamic, and more interesting. And it's not just for mobile alone; HTML5 works on PC browsers, and increasingly will help power smart TVs as well. So embracing HTML5 and tools that can create content in it will enable ads that can scale across different devices and screen sizes.

What are we asking for, exactly? If you're a marketer, you may be worrying at this point that the IAB is going to send you back to design school to master the nuances of < img> tags , Web canvases, or drag-and-drop events. Not at all. The technical ins and outs of creating digital ads can stay safely in the hands of those who know them best. But we do believe that marketers need to care about HTML5, and start insisting that their creative agencies care about - and master - it as well. The days when the mobile piece of a campaign can be an afterthought animated GIF are behind us. Your mobile customers deserve better!

We launched Make Mobile Work at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert this week, via an open letter to marketers signed by the IAB and 16 of our members with the call to marketers to insist on HTML5 in every ad campaign they run. Over the course of 2014, we will follow that with a steady array of research and case studies on iab.net and a webinar series exploring different aspects of HTML5. We'll also continue our work exploring and writing about the ramifications of HTML5 for ad creation, helping designers understand and work with it better.

Media companies have been pushing steadily into the cross-screen future. Content publishers of all stripes have embraced and deployed mobile websites and apps, and redesigned their PC websites using responsive or adaptive technologies to make them more flexible across different-sized screens. As the pages get more flexible, so should the ads, and HTML5 is a major ingredient in enabling that.

The statistics have been repeated so often we're probably all a little tired of them, but they are still the reason for all this: According to the latest IAB Harris survey, 57 percent of American adults have smartphones and 44 percent have a tablet. And what are they doing on these devices? Everything. Marketers, agencies, and ad sellers alike stand on the verge of an exciting cross-screen, omni-screen future. Although it requires change from the status quo, embracing HTML5 (along with helper technologies like responsive or dynamic creative, MRAID for in-app ads, and others) is the best way to address, serve, and ultimately advertise to phone and tablet audiences.


Anna Bager

Anna Bager, senior vice president, mobile and video, brings together two of the digital media and marketing industries' most significant growth platforms under her leadership. The IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, an independently funded and staffed unit inside the IAB, charged with driving the growth of the mobile marketing, advertising, and media marketplace. The Digital Video Center focuses on tying together various IAB video activities - including Advanced TV, Digital Video, and the Digital Content Newfronts - providing a one-stop shop for thought leadership, innovation, research, and guidance for the burgeoning digital video industry.

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. Business Insider named Anna to the Most Important Women in Mobile Advertising in 2012, 2013, and 2014. And one of the 2014 top women in media by Folio Mag.


Joe Laszlo

As the senior director of the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, Joe Laszlo plays a key role furthering the center's mission of growing the mobile interactive industry. Joe manages many of the IAB's mobile standardization, best practices, and research projects; advises both buyers and sellers of mobile media; and oversees the IAB's Mobile Committee and Tablet Committee.

Joe served as the IAB's director of research from 2007 through 2010, also managing the IAB's Mobile Committee for much of that time. During his IAB career, Joe has led IAB projects including: writing buyer's guides to mobile and tablet advertising; standardizing mobile rich media advertising; and working with the Mobile Marketing Association and MRC to establish guidelines for counting mobile web and in-app ad impressions.

Prior to the IAB, Joe had an eight-year tenure at Jupiter Research, where he started researching and writing about mobile interactivity in 2000.

Joe holds an MA from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts and a BA from Columbia. He lives in Manhattan.

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