In order for the mobile app economy to be an economy, instead of a labor of love, mobile ads have got to deliver. So are they? Answer: not really!
A new joint survey of mobile users put out by Harris Interactive and Pontiflex shows 47 percent click on mobile ads by mistake more often than on purpose. Ouch! What's even more discouraging is that the highly coveted demographic, that is the 18-34 year olds, weigh in on that one at 61 percent. OK, just count this as number one on my list of five things going wrong with mobile advertising. I'll pick up with two through five in a minute.
But first, a word to mobile marketeers about your advertising audience. The same audience that resists paying for television content, access to online news sites and music downloads; they are also your audience too! People are cheap and most of us feel information is too! So, I'm not surprised by those survey results.
2. Mobile ads are not Web ads. Web ads traditionally nudge users to click on an ad and land on the advertiser's website. Mobile users have less patience for this. Seventy-one percent of mobile users from this survey, for example, reported that they prefer ads that keep them in their app.
3. Mobile ads that aren't mobile ads. Speaking more as a mobile user and less as a blogger, I go back and forth between sites optimized for the mobile net and those that are not. It goes without saying that the websites not optimized for my smartphone are frustrating and tedious to navigate. I don't bother unless I really, really want that site's content. Chances are I do not have the same passion for its advertisements. I spend a lot of time flicking and pinching to see what I want to see on such sites. Ads, on the other hand, are just one more frustration. Do you really want me, a potential customer, to associate that experience with your brand?
4. Engagement is a two-edged sword. In traditional Web advertising, its all about engaging the user. Videos, online polls, simple games, contests, etc,. all have a record of huge success when used right. In the mobile environment, yes, sometimes it works. But, don't bank on it. Engagement comes with an implicit time committment and singular focus on behalf of the user. Mobile users have less of both of those things. Mobile ads need to be designed keeping in mind that engagement can only work if it makes sense for someone on the go. Do you really want someone clicking through to your online survey while they are driving or your loud, edgy viral video while they are in a hospital waiting room?
5. It's touch-through, not click-through. Please keep fat fingers and tiny fonts that especially confound the over-40 crowd in mind when you design your mobile ad campaigns. I'm just sayin'.