Aired September 3, 2014
With Apple preparing to release the iPhone 6, WFoA on “Marketing Matters” took a look at the state of mobile advertising. Guests Paran Johar, Founder and CEO of the Mobile Media Summit, CMO of IPG Mediabrands Liz Ross, and Jonathan Anastas, Global Head of Digital and Social Marketing at Activision, joined WFoA Executive Director Catharine Hays to discuss the things marketers should keep in mind when their target audience is in the produce section of Pathmark, but will be in the meat section shortly.
Mobile devices have enjoyed a skyrocketing rate of adoption since the late 2000’s, with well over half of phones in the US now being smartphones and 50-60% of all US internet traffic coming from mobile devices. With so much traffic originating from these most personal and customizable of devices, said Johar, “I’m not sure that shrinking banners is the answer.” Rather, the display ad has been supplanted by the idea of advertising as content, served to the user at a time and in a situation where it adds value to that user’s experience. While mobile technology may be able to track smartphones’ locations or users’ interests in ever-more sophisticated ways, that technology must serve a message, explained Johar: “Innovation does not happen in Silicon Valley, it happens in Madison Avenue embracing Silicon Valley… a lot of great technology never crosses that chasm.”
The growth of mobile technology has itself resulted in a potential chasm between brands and consumers. Johar, Ross and Anastas all pointed out that mobile users are also more willing to exercise control over the messages they receive, shutting out marketing that strikes them as an intrusion, and privileging information that arrives via trusted peers over other sources. As Ross told it, “Advertising has traditionally been a one-way conversation–the joke is that a brand is someone who comes to a cocktail party, stands at the door, yells their story and runs out. But social media is very much being part of the cocktail party.”
Ross also touched on the ways in which mobile marketing can add value to experiences; Ross cited the example of Hillshire Farms’ efforts to reach consumers in the grocery aisle, sending information to users near the meat section of the store–a location-tracking operation made possible by Apple’s iBeacon. Smartphone users receiving a recipe or other relevant information at such opportune moments were measured as having 20 times the intent-to-buy as other users. While that level of engagement is enviable, Ross cautioned against overly-aggressive location tracking and marketing tactics:”It’s a very fine line.” As Hays put it, “the technical term we use is ‘becoming creepy.'”
Anastas discussed the importance of deep engagement with audiences, noting that present-day consumers engage with fewer brands more deeply. Games like the ones Activision makes can build an ecosystem of associations around themselves to deepen their importance for users: “Everything around a game is an addition to the world…in the right environment, an ad isn’t an ad at all.” He cited a launch campaign for a recent Call of Duty release, in which weapons from the game were made available for free within the popular Action Movie FX app. This allowed users to make and share effects videos, and was “viewed as really valuable content,” according to Anastas, because extra effects for the app usually cost money. “We got 35 million brand interactions in six weeks.”
As Ross noted, 2014 is the 20th anniversary of the banner ad; while some banners may always squat on the sides of our screens, the digital ad has evolved. On mobile devices, the message that heeds the importance of relevance, usability and context will prove most effective.
Key Takeaways From This Show:
- Location is not enough for targeting; brands must tap into other data to further tailor the message and content;
- Heeding privacy concerns is paramount; it’s all about clear notice and choice (including opting out);
- Partner with others considered authorities in your space by your audience (In Activision’s case, Uber & Vice)
- Experiential + Mobile + Social = Gold
The Wharton Future of Advertising Program airs programs monthly on Marketing Matters, a weekly call-in show airing on Wednesdays from 5pm to 7pm on Sirius XM Channel 111, Business Radio powered by Wharton. Listeners can call in during the show at 1-844-WHARTON (1-844-842-7866). Programs will be rebroadcast throughout the month. Full channel information available here: http://businessradio.wharton.upenn.edu/
-Matt Wiegle, WFoA Program Assistant