Unless you have been living under a rock you have seen the tangible evidence that mobile is here to stay and its presence and importance in every sector of domestic and business life is growing, often exponentially. According to Nielsen, smartphone penetration in the U.S. now sits at 70%; couple that with the fact that 52% of people now consider mobile as their first screen and logic would dictate that it is now paramount for advertisers to assert their presence on mobile. The case for mobile only continues to build; so far in 2014 mobile users have spent 7 hours more each month on their phones than they did in 2013, which according to Nielsen’s Q1 2014 Cross Platform Report accounted, on average, for more than 38 hours per month. That means that the average mobile user is spending just shy of 20% of their day on their phones and in a year, they are spending over 450 hours on them. However, despite these numbers mobile currently only represents 4% of total ad spending. One would think that this figure will increase significantly in the coming years, as advertisers adapt and continue to learn what factors determine effective advertising in the mobile environment.
Some advertisers however, including the VP and Director of Media Activation and Partnership at Digitas, argue that the lack of ad “spending” is creating a misconception that the advertising industry has taken a stalled approach to mobile. It’s true that only a few companies have dedicated a carved out budget strictly for mobile, but mobile is absolutely essential in the minds of all brands. The key with mobile is the understanding that it is a different beast than both traditional print and TV advertising and therefore the strategy must be thoughtfully and carefully rewritten. Mobile devices have changed the expectations for technology, especially for millennials. Consumers want to interact with tech and want it to foster new, intuitive, and adaptable experiences. For instance, many children have grown up with the belief that every device, no matter how big or small, will be responsive to their touch. Advertisers are presumably taking all of this into consideration, along with the fact that on average, viewing sessions on mobile are much shorter than in other forms of media or print. Mobile is also not a “consistent” environment, the ways in which you can consume content are endless and therefore the advertising model cannot be the same as it is for desktop. Mobile has become an extension of self and in some sense; you are what you are doing on mobile. Take sports for example, CBS Interactive, through an in depth evaluation of their content, realized that Fantasy Sports Drafts created an interesting opportunity in which prolonged viewing sessions were common and therefore concluded that ads should be tailored to those unusually long viewing sessions. However, most advertisements should cater to the more common shorter viewing session. Most importantly, the advertisements, in order to be successful must match the environments they are placed in, or at least understand the intentions or interests driving the consumer to a specific screen or application. A misplaced ad will achieve only annoyance and will have little chance of leading to a purchase. Ad spending with a blanket strategy will reap little benefit. The mobile frontier is one of precision, intuition, and timeliness. The possibilities are endless for both consumers and brands. And so far, evidence suggests that there is indeed willingness among mobile users to accept and act upon ads when they are placed in appropriate and relevant settings.