Don’t Ruin Good Strategy With Bad Creative

This week was the annual IAB Mobile Marketplace, where the crowd spent the day discussing the state of the mobile industry. With the omnipresent “Year of Mobile” behind us, it was great to hear brands and companies speaking from a mobile-first perspective in regards to their overall digital strategy.

While there are still challenges to be mastered to truly make mobile a mainstream media, there are far more exciting opportunities for consumer interaction – and brands are just scratching the surface. Yet, with all of the promise that mobile brings to the table, some are still only dipping their toes in the water, as challenges with measurement, targeting, and cross-platform delivery make some hesitant to integrate mobile as a significant part of their overall digital budget.

As my colleague Joe Laszlo reported last year – the IAB and the IAB’s Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence are making great progress in addressing these issues and reducing barriers to a truly cross-platform future. However, even with the progress we continue to make on creative and delivery standards, cross-platform audience management, and measurement, there’s one thing that we can’t fix: bad creative.

We have heard over and over again that mobile “doesn’t perform” due to small, lackluster creative units that don’t inspire consumers to engage. While some of that may be true, we should remember that mobile is only a part of the overall marketing mix. It can’t be approached as a siloed screen fit only for small test budgets to be successful. Brands must use tools such as the IAB’s HTML5 and Make Mobile Work initiatives to interact with consumers in a meaningful way that brings value to their day.

Much like desktop banner ads, informed creative far exceeds generic, static messages pushed at the consumer. Mobile gives us the opportunity to take advantage of native capabilities such as click-to-call and dynamic maps. It also gives us the ability to use device form factors to think outside of the box and utilize things such as front-facing cameras, gyroscopes, and swipe functionality when designing ads and experiences. No matter how much the mobile canvas improves with rising stars, rich media, video, native, and other innovations, winning strategies will always be built around great creative experiences.

Some key takeaways from the conference, on the creative front:

  • Bank of America’s Lou Paskalis made a call-to-action for marketers, agencies, and publishers to start thinking about creative as mobile-first. It is too vital to people’s lives – even sitting beside them all night long – not to put the time and resources behind it. This might not sit well with some stakeholders in the beginning, but it is imperative that you use a portion of your budget to look less at mobile in terms of hard numbers and return on investment (ROI) and consider this spend as an investment for the future.
  • Kelly Jones of Microsoft talked about the importance of an intimate relationship with your consumer/customer and how it is critical to strike a balance between privacy and data, as well as creativity and utility. Happily, we have gleaned data and consumers are willing to share more, if it is to their benefit – but we ultimately need to put enough resources behind mobile to ensure that we fully understand all of these data riches, and then put them to work when it comes to creativity and utility.
  • Vibrant Media released findings from a joint study with IAB and comScore pointing to the Mobile Rising Stars generating robust gains for marketers, for both ROI and brand recall. These are truly creative canvasses that play to mobile’s strengths and unique interactive value proposition, and with this research in the marketplace, we’ll hopefully see even more marketers leveraging the units in their campaigns.

So, as we continue to work to make mobile and cross-platform buying, delivery, and measurement as seamless as possible, we’re asking brands, agencies, and advertisers not to let bad creative ruin your chance to connect with your audiences on their most personal and trusted devices.

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