Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, mobile media were playing an increasingly powerful role in consumers’ lives – and, not surprisingly, in media budgets. In the U.S., mobile media now exceeds one-third of all media spending and a 2021 GfK study shows that, among common digital technologies, smartphones are most trusted and relied on by U.S. consumers.
Throughout the day, consumers return to those small(er) smartphone screens again and again – for an average of 63 interactions every day, according to Leftronic. No other technology or platform can claim this kind of repeated exposure and 24/7 influence.
But when it comes to advertising, smartphones – and mobile devices generally – are too often playing second fiddle to “traditional” technologies: TVs and PCs. There has been little effort to truly understand mobile ads in their own context and environment. Evaluative approaches are not as robust as traditional TV techniques – and systems are often inconsistent with past testing, leaving management confused on how to interpret.
The truth is that little is actually spent on digital ad testing in general; simplistic approaches with few diagnostics provide a minimum of information or inspiration to drive stronger creative. And when it comes to mobile ads, the commitment to evaluating and refining is even weaker. Despite the impressive growth in streaming over mobile devices, they simply are not given their due.
We know that consumers interact with mobile devices in unique and specific ways – vastly different from a TV or PC environment. Screen size has a huge effect on how people engage with and experience advertising; small pictures and uncertain sound quality create special demands on creative. Frequently, mobile media are viewed in the context of other activities – watching TV, working or even socializing. And people bring a different mind-set to smartphone time than they do to larger screens; it is less about kicking back and more about getting things done.
Making the right impression in a mobile context requires a special, dedicated focus on what works in this sometimes unforgiving environment. A standout campaign created for bigger screens may translate poorly to handheld devices. There are good reasons to say, in fact, that smartphones should be the primary platform advertisers use for evaluating their campaigns, as they provide a more challenging creative context for ads.
Brand managers, ad creators and media planners all need to put their mobile thinking hats on – not to think “smaller” in terms of ambition but rather to make the most of every platform on its own terms.
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We know that consumers are increasingly difficult to engage in any context. Two-thirds of people say they feel “bombarded” by advertising and just three out of every 100 ads make an impression on consumers. This problem only grows when it comes to mobile platforms, because people are less receptive to ads on smartphones and tablets, as compared to TVs. GfK has found that just 11% have a favorable view of mobile ads, compared to 49% for TV ads.
With all of these challenges, how can brands capture and keep the attention of smartphone and tablet users? The good news is that GfK’s Ad Fit Optimizer has shown that well-executed ads on smartphones can be as effective as on larger screens – though the standards for success must be a little more stringent. Like all ads, simple and visually stimulating ads are most effective at engaging consumers on small screens. Emotionally engaging consumers with content that is personally relevant is critical, whether the ad is a video or display, long or short.
Recent GfK research – focusing directly on how people react to ads in mobile environments – looks at two key aspects of effectiveness: hook (the ability to grab attention) and hold (the challenge of keeping consumers engaged). Ads that score high in both of these areas, when viewed in a mobile environment, stand the greatest chance of impacting people.
Homing in on ad exposure and use in mobile settings, our study has revealed a number of guidelines for successful campaigns – what will cut through the mobile clutter and speak to overwhelmed consumers.
In the new digital world where shopping journeys are compressed and making a purchase is easier than ever, it’s harder for brand marketers to discern where to place their top-of-funnel media investments. If shoppable content can propel consumers all the way from discovery to conversion in one moment, and shoppers are purchasing in the same place they’re researching and evaluating, does brand marketing really need to be reserved strictly for the top?
The reality is no. Brand marketing is more fluid than ever and can now be optimized across the purchase funnel, especially with the rise of social commerce. For this reason, it’s important that brand marketers begin to pay attention to e-commerce sites—and not only in terms of display inventory.
Here are four reasons why:
While many publishers tout first-party data, it’s usually limited to behavioral information and shopping interests. Very few media partners are able to boast first-party transaction data. They can tell you how much traffic they delivered, but they can’t tell you what your true return on ad spend is.
E-commerce partners, however, monitor transaction data. This includes affiliate publishers such as Slickdeals, which employ third-party tracking from affiliate networks and often specialize in quality content creation. In fact, eMarketer recently agreed that “the affiliate channel now offers marketers considerably more premium and engaging content partners than what was historically available.” In many cases, these affiliate partners are both introducing customers to a new brand or product and converting the customer—often in the same session.
Thus, when placing brand advertisements across e-commerce sites, you can more clearly see when and how (new) customers engage and transact. You can discern all touch points, map a clear path to purchase and establish attribution without the hassle of matching anonymous audiences with various media partners across multiple sessions and channels.
Because of the aforementioned first-party data, e-commerce partners are able to target their users with unique accuracy. They can definitively tell you when someone has bought the item they were browsing for, and they can help you win over the consumers who love buying from your competitor.
As a result, you’re not only able to get an accurate sense of your return, but you’re also able to better maximize it through more effective targeting.
Brand advertisements that are positioned close to checkout will also increase your chances of driving new customers. McKinsey confirmed that 40% of consumers who changed shopping behaviors during the pandemic also made the decision to change brands due to factors of convenience and value.
Simultaneously, e-commerce sites are experts in maximizing both convenience and value. In addition to product and deal information being immediately available to the consumer (including everything from price comparisons to rewards information), conversion is only a click away.
So it makes sense that 35% of social buyers describe their most recent social commerce purchase to eMarketer as an impulse buy of a product or service that they were not previously aware of or considering.
Ditch your virtual billboards! Or at least ditch some of them.
With more and more social components being integrated into e-commerce sites, marketers have the chance to ignite conversations with customers as well as establish long-lasting discussions between consumers and their brand media. Such results are way more impactful than passive banner ads, which may or may not draw mindshare from the passing viewer.
Harking back to earlier points, this conversation is also facilitated close to the point of purchase, which again lends itself to higher impact and increased conversion. A friend talking about a brand they love as you drive down a highway is one thing, but a friend talking about a brand they love as you’re holding the product in the checkout line is another.
For these reasons (and probably a few others), it’s important that marketers begin considering e-commerce sites as viable brand media partners. At Slickdeals, we’ve found that advertisers see the most success when they engage in both traditional top-of-funnel branding as well as performance-driven campaigns. As the core social commerce platform propels consumers through the shopping funnel, smart e-commerce partners such as Slickdeals strategize with brands on everything in between to achieve a clear purchase path and an accurate return on ad spend.