Year of the What?

It’s the year of “where did I come from?”

Over the last several months, 2012 has been positioned as many things. Now that the New Year’s Eve confetti has settled, let’s focus on what’s really going to matter this year: consistency.

In many cases, and rightfully so, each of the last several years has been referred to as the “Year of Mobile.” There’s a lot to that, if comScore and other analysts – as well as Apple and Android – have anything to say about it. More recently, IAB President and CEO Randall Rothenberg has called 2012 “The Year of the Creative.”

Is it actually the year of mobile and creative?

Calling 2012 “The Year of Mobile” makes tons of sense given the continuing trend of smartphone adoption. Smartphone sales are only increasing, and tablets such as the iPad and Kindle Fire are battling it out for consumer adoption with no signs of slowing down. The iPhone 4S, initially seen as a “failure” by some with its incremental feature set, surprised many analysts over the Christmas holiday and Q4 with its strong sales rivaling Android. Many of these sales are coming at the expense of so-called feature phones – with their smaller screens and limited ability to surf the web, download apps and music, and display HTML email.

So why is 2012 the year of the creative? It sounds like 2012 is the year of mobile. Yet, the rapid rate of mobile ad growth (65 percent annually through 2015, according to Gartner) is placing more pressure on advertisers, agencies, and their teams to come up with new ads and ad formats that make the most of the smaller screen and different engagement. But that’s not enough to make this year successful for either mobile or creative.

Here’s a new proposal: let’s make 2012 “The Year of Consistency.” But what does that actually mean?

The opportunity for “Rising Stars,” better creative, and true mobile success lies in the recognition that people are not just looking at ads on mobile devices, they are actually clicking on them and expecting to interact post-click. Ultimately, we cannot forget about the total experience of the consumer. It starts with sending the consumer emails that are relevant to them in terms of content and ads. What difference does a new creative size make if it does the same wrong thing post-click? Chalk one up for the “definition of insanity” file. A new ad size with the same old post-click experience will not create a positive consumer experience.

We have to start building landing pages that are optimized for mobile use and consumption. We’ve managed to get past the first hurdle as we now have the ability to buy, sell, and optimize publishers’ email ad inventory and consumers are starting to click on mobile ads, but we have to see the experience through to the end. The post-click experience must be more than the standard landing page shrunk down for a mobile screen. Mobile email marketing has caught up with audience requirements and demand – now we have to take it to the next level for the post-click experience. After putting so much work into delivering that mobile ad, we need to remain committed to the right formats so we don’t lose the consumer – partners like NetBiscuits and Wapple can help you do just that. Those brands that create cross-platform mobile sites that work for all audiences will be most successful in gaining widespread consumer adoption.

At the end of the day, most people don’t use mobile as their primary means to surf the web. They do use it to pass the time. They read their favorite publications, use apps, or play games. What consumers with time on their hands will do is engage with ads that take them to the mobile web as a result of awesome creative. But the key ingredient is driving consistency across the board to consumers, helping to amplify the creative and giving them the best experience possible, no matter the time, place, or device.

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