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5 Mobile Advertising Trends for the Holiday Shopping Season

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Black Friday is like the “annual report” for mobile advertising – a yearly snapshot of how mobile ads are progressing and evolving. The big challenges are perennial – the gap between time spent on mobile and ad dollars allocated, consumer perception of mobile ads as annoying and intrusive, and low click rates. But every Black Friday, innovations and learnings from the past year move the needle on these challenges.

I asked John Shomaker, the CEO of AdJuggler, a digital ad management technology and media services company, for five trends we’re likely to see during this year’s shopping season:

1. Smart, hyper-local mobile campaigns will create a new shopping experience.  Mobile advertisers are figuring out more effective hyper-local, geo-targeting campaigns that reflect the way consumers want to combine in-store shopping with product research on their smartphones. According to Shomaker: “Consumers want to find deals on their mobile devices they can use in physical stores they’re out visiting. Smart mobile advertisers are geo-targeting the perimeter of their physical store locations, and those of their competitors, with ads that offer special in-store promotions. Layer on top of that contextual relevance like keyword targeting and you can serve a product-specific creative that links to a relevant product page and promotion on the store’s mobile website or app, enhancing the in-store experience. The mobile ad and its click-through becomes an extension of the path the user is on; it’s no longer annoying and intrusive.”

2. Behavioral relevance will scale to reach holiday shoppers.                         “Targeting mobile users by behavioral segments, such as those from BlueKai, and executing these campaigns at scale using real-time bidding [RTB] is making us better at being relevant,” according to Shomaker. Pulling in social “likes” and shares and adding those to the audience segmentation model further improve the relevance of behavioral targeting. As mobile ads become less annoying and more relevant, clicks increase, thus creating an empirical basis for more mobile ad spend.

3. Successes are likely to occur in social, local and mobile.                                 John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers coined “SoLoMo,” to predict huge business value as social, local and mobile converge.  Doerr’s view is that on Black Friday, we’re going to see SoLoMo become reality. The Wall Street Journal reported that this past year, P.F. Chang’s “Lunar New Year” promotion saw 1 million people in one hour click, retweet or otherwise interact with a promoted tweet offering dining rewards to users, including those who searched on “Chinese New Year.” Shomaker says: “We saw that 70 percent of the audience response to this SoLoMo campaign was via a mobile device. P.F. Chang immediately shifted the entire campaign budget to mobile.”

4. Consumers will overcome the “fear factor.”                                                           IAB Rising Stars Program keeps user context and teaches audiences that it’s “awesome” to click mobile ads. Users fear the unknown, and this likely plays a role in today’s low response to mobile ads. Will clicking a mobile ad take you out of your app and lose your context? Not so, according to Shomaker. “The ads aren’t designed like that, because no one wants an ad to take them away from the place they want to be. The ‘IAB Rising Star’ ad units will allay those fears.” The Mobile Filmstrip unit, Pull unit, Adhesion Banner, Full-Page Flex unit, and the Slider unit take great care to bring brand assets into the ad rather than requiring a jump outside the app or a loss of context. It also all leverages touch, to keep mobile users engaged and in control.

5. Integration of mobile ads into multichannel campaigns will result in better lift.    It’s widely believed that Black Friday will be a “multichannel holiday” because advertisers have learned to improve lift by integrating smartphone ads, tablet ads, Web, TV, even earned media/owned media/paid media campaigns to improve lift. “This last one is especially worth watching,” states Shomaker. “Display campaigns [i.e., paid media] now can feature a call to action in the social experience – for example, preference sharing or a social game. The interstitial page of the ad links to a social media marketing application, which is located at a deep link within the brand’s Facebook page [owned media]. Users ‘like’ the brand and socially share their preferences with all users in their social graph [earned media].”  

This lift in social sharing, or earned-media lift, has proved important to marketers. The odds of a Facebook fan purchasing something from a brand are 5.3 times higher than for non-fans, according to Forrester Research’s report “The Facebook Factor.”

All told, mobile promises to become a much larger part of the marketing mix this Black Friday. It will also provide a window into how quickly the third screen gets adopted into commerce as a whole. Happy shopping.

How the 2012 Election is Driving Mobile Marketing Innovation

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The 2012 Presidential election will be the most expensive in history.  According to the New York Times the candidates will raise and spend over $1 billion dollars seeking office.  For marketers, this election will yield a windfall of new ideas.  Political campaigns are to marketing innovation what big defense budgets are to technology innovation.

2012 Campaign Spend

As the result of massive advertising budgets, high adoption rates of social media and penetration of smartphones, expect to see groundbreaking innovation in mobile advertising.

Areas to watch:

  • Hyper-local targeting – the Obama campaign team has developed an app that links a Google map to the neighborhood volunteers are working.  The map contains blue flags at homes to be knocked, including scripts for approaching individual voters.

  • Mobile geo targeting – during a concert in Grant Park in Chicago the Romney team placed display ads on smartphones of those concertgoers and others in the vicinity.  In TIME magazine recent The Wireless Edition, Patrick Ruffani, the Republican digital consultant said; “We weren’t paying for the entire city.”
  • Mobile payments – the Obama team developed a new program called “Quick Donate.”  Supporters can contribute repeat donations by sending the number of dollars they want to donate via a text message.
  • Social Sharing – Romney’s With Mitt app allows supports to choose from a number of “With Mitt” templates to upload a photo from their phones and quickly share it on Twitter or Facebook.
  • Real time data – both camps have apps to enable volunteers to report real time activities and interactions with voters.  Vote Builder, the democratic voter database, ensures that no two people are sent to the same address.  If a volunteer wants to canvass an area, they can click to download a list of households in their general radius.  Phones prompt volunteers to report back their results so that future campaign communications, like DM, can be targeted.
  • Engagement - Romney’s campaign team captured valuable information from supporters who downloaded the Mitt’s VP app.  The app promised to inform supporters “first” about the vice president pick.  Unfortunately, the news media beat them to it, but it will allow Romney’s team to push notifications throughout the campaign to supporter’s smartphones.

With less than 10 weeks remaining in a tightly contested election expect more innovations to come.  With over 160 million Americans on Facebook and 53% of mobile phone owners having smartphones today, mobile digital campaigning is changing the way political strategists are engaging audiences and investing advertising dollars.

For marketers, it’s mobile marketing R&D that we could never afford, and will bear fruit for new ideas and campaigns for years to come.  Regardless of who wins the election, the real winners from this year’s campaign will be the folks without the billion dollar-marketing budget.