This post is by Joy Dean, head of partnerships at Widespace.
Despite the meteoric rise of smartphones and tablets, mobile advertising has yet to be truly embraced by the vast majority of marketers and advertisers. A significant issue we face comes down simply to traffic versus revenue. While mobile traffic numbers are on the rise, this has not yet translated in terms of revenue. Indeed, when speaking to a number of publishers at a roundtable event in London recently, it became apparent that many are seeing around 50 per cent of their traffic on mobile, yet this is not reflected in overall yield. And there are still more issues that when boiled down come to convincing the industry that the future really is on mobile.
The answer, for now at least, begins and ends with market education. At present, despite what we first thought, the advertising industry is not yet convinced by mobile. Too many sales teams and publishers harbour a fear of mobile, thinking of it only as an add-on, or gimmick, and not as a branding channel that will add value to their organisations or publications for years to come.
What's more, the sheer number of smart devices, with screens of different shapes and sizes, makes it increasingly difficult for advertisers to adapt to the mobile platform. This poses a problem when sharing content across different devices, as in-screen viewability is often compromised.
To compound all of this, measuring reach on mobile has also led to some nebulous results. Frequency of views by users can degrade overall engagement results and many fear wastage. Has this content reached a great many people, or has a smaller group viewed it a greater number of times? These are just some of the questions asked by sales teams every day. So, convincing this audience that specific, targeted mobile advertising can be of great importance is no easy task.
There is a real confusion in how to tackle the mobile opportunity and therefore a tendency not to experiment. Such activity reflects the attitudes of many publishers towards the mobile platform, but it also shows a problem that is true across the industry. That problem is a lack of strategy. For some, who do want to take a mobile first approach, there is a need across the industry to work together to understand how to facilitate a change. Not just a change in attitude but also in practice!
The signs are there to suggest that mobile advertising will be of great import and will, eventually, overtake print. A recent report in eMarketer claimed that mobile ad spending will surpass the £2 billion mark and will overtake that of print by 2015. So, it's clear that more content will be consumed digitally than ever before in years to come, and advertisers need to be ahead of that trend.
If sales teams and publishers are educated in the value that mobile can have, they will be able to do just that. They will come to create unique content for mobile instead of reusing material created for print. They will find themselves able to keep in regular contact with always-on consumers and, what's more, they will find that they can target very specific adverts at appropriate users. All of these skills will enable them to maximise their revenues from the mobile platform. However, this can only happen once the education process is complete, and it will only happen if print and mobile teams work together.
Right now, every advertiser should be considering what their long-term goal for mobile really is. They must construct a clear and specific focus and stick with it. While every publisher aspires to achieve premium advertising, they must be careful not to spread themselves too thinly by trying to do everything at once. If that means starting with one device rather than cross-device, or responsive rather than app or vice versa, then so be it. But always be thinking about the bigger mobile picture at the beginning of the journey – and experiment! This is a lengthy process of education, but, once we are able to demonstrate the true value of mobile, it will be all of us who reap the rewards.
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