“The Sell Sider” is a column written for the sell side of the digital media community.
Today’s column is written by Jeremy Steinberg, chief revenue officer at Yieldmo.
The race for automation and data targeting has done wonders to help marketers better refine customer segmentation and more quickly optimize media for performance. I think the jury is still out about just how much it helps publishers, but at the very least, these same strategies help improve mobile monetization by increasing competition, diversifying revenue and reducing the cost of goods sold.
What has been entirely lost in this world of automation is how to effectively communicate on mobile devices. In many instances, ads are targeted to the right person on the right piece of content. But more often than not, the message delivered is standard desktop creative.
How lame is that? It’s almost 2019, the year mobile is set to replace TV as the dominant medium for consumer time spent, yet we still rely on suboptimal creative. Why? Because the workflow is simple and it solves multiscreen messaging. But this is the wrong strategy, and it is pulling value out of the open ad ecosystem.
Despite many advancements, this topic is far from resolved, but I believe 2019 will be a big year for the prioritization of mobile creative.
Creative, even on a small screen, has huge potential to elicit emotion and engage – but it needs to be built for the thumb. Creative needs to respond to how consumers scroll, swipe and tilt, or walk and touch.
Benefits to this approach include limited additional cost and time and proper rendering, which may not be something they have considered. Making certain a message work across all phone types and browsing options is extraordinarily important. There are hundreds of variations. So delivering the most compelling message means rendering it in the right way for each experience.
For publishers, it may seem impossible to adopt mobile-specific ad experiences as the options seem too custom or may require too much development work and/or alignment with other departments within the company. Or publishers may think that they have checked the box because they work with mobile partners and the monetization is improving.
The reality is that more often than not, ad experiences on content sites are either not optimized for the mobile experience or suboptimally deployed at best. Interstitial ads pop up everywhere. Large formats break the page and confuse readers. Adhesion banners permeate the ecosystem and deliver unintentional clicks. And audio-on video formats pummel users.
We sure have created a good reason for marketers to use Facebook and Google. There is very strong consumer signal on these platforms, and the ad experiences are native and highly engaging. On Instagram, for example, it is hard not to pause when scrolling by ads because they deliver compelling imagery that responds to the touch and includes subtle calls to action that are enticing. You can also shop and buy within the platform, which reduces friction and makes for a happy customer.
To stop the madness, publishers should start by prioritizing the optimal experience within the automated framework. Find options that marketers want to use and allow them to activate programmatically. This will allow marketers to use great creative that can scale broadly across publishers. Resist large formats that may get high marks for viewability but are actually not certified by the Coalition for Better Ads.
It is on all of us to prioritize the mobile ad experience. The health of the open mobile ad ecosystem will continue to erode if we push consumers into walled gardens.
But if we all focus on creating a great mobile ad experience, marketers will be able to deliver the same compelling messaging as they do in the walled gardens. At the same time, they can leverage all the great automation and data capabilities that will finally marry art and science.
Publishers will be able to deliver overall better mobile experiences, which will lead to happy customers, better monetization and value returned to the appropriate place.