By Evan Wray, vice president and co-founder of Swyft Media
Mobile Advertising, as we know it, is changing. Ad blockers continue to threaten the viewability and therefore, the effectiveness, of the first mover mobile ad units like traditional banner ads and interstitials. Yet, brands are still very eager to advertise in mobile.
If brands want to effectively target and engage millennials, they must change their mobile advertising approach. According to Accenture, Millennials are expected to contribute $1.4 trillion dollars in consumer spending by 2020. And we know that millennials rarely click on banner ads. We also know that millennials love to communicate in places like mobile messaging and when they do, they love to personalize that communication and share with friends.
With all of these insights, the advertising industry is rethinking the “one-size-fits-all” marketing mentality, and shedding it in favor of something less intrusive and far more engaging and interactive—customized content that doesn’t interrupt the user experience, but rather creates a “must have” experience. Increasingly, brands and advertisers are starting to move their campaigns to the places millennials spend a good amount of their time: mobile messaging apps. According to Activate, mobile messaging apps have been the fastest growing sector within the social landscape over the past five years, with 2.5 billion registered users today and an additional 1.1 billion news users expected by 2018.
Think of these mobile messaging apps as the new ad network. A place where brands can directly engage millennials and become a part of their conversation with peers. But they can’t do it with traditional ad units like banners and interstitials. Instead, they are using what have been tagged the “new” mobile ad units like emoji, GIFS, brand accounts (also known as chat bots) and branded video. This content provides brands with a way to speak the language of their key audience, delivering content that they want to engage with and share – not that they want to ignore.
Recently, Jose Cuervo launched a campaign, targeted at consumers ages 21-34, in efforts to generate awareness and buzz and create digital brand ambassadors in the mobile messaging space. Jose Cuervo created a free digital sticker pack, available for download in the popular Kik mobile messaging app store. The digital stickers included emoji of tequila shots saying “Tequila Tuesday”, margaritas and of course the iconic Jose Cuervo gold and silver bottles. Jose Cuervo made it easy and fun to make its tequila a part of the conversation and measured success by the number of downloads of the sticker packs as well as usage and shares of the stickers within group chats and conversations. The campaign ran for 15 days and generated nearly 90,000 downloads of the sticker pack and nearly 1.2 million shares of the Jose Cuervo branded stickers across mobile messaging conversations. When friends were making plans for their night out – Jose Cuervo was front and center in the conversation. The success of this campaign shows just how ready and willing millennials and younger consumers are to have access to this type of branded content – mainly to personalize their conversations with friends and their social network.
While emoji and digital stickers have played a significant role in this paradigm shift in giving advertisers and brands a new way to reach consumers, they have really just been the litmus test of a fast-evolving market. Advertisers and brands are quickly realizing that they can engage, influence and amplify a campaign if they approach consumers with exciting, shareable and engaging content. So what’s next?
A new ad unit quickly gaining momentum is Brand Accounts, being commonly referred to as “chat bots”. Brand Accounts enable brands to create a presence in a messaging app and create what feels like a one-to-one conversation. They are a sophisticated content hub engines, built to understand customer preferences and interests and engage with a customer in a personalized way.
Everyone from Facebook to Kik has made recent news and noise around chat bots; they are widely considered the “next big thing” for advertisers and brands looking to reach millennials and young consumers with branded, engaging content. Brand accounts, powered by chat bot technology, are official account pages within messaging apps that serve as content hubs, where companies can drive continued engagement to their audience at scale through coupons, videos, chats, contests and more. This will certainly become a very popular and effective way for brands to reach millennials in a way that isn’t obtrusive to their messaging experience. It’s something they opt-in for because there are numerous incentives and benefits of doing so.
If we’ve learned anything about the mobile advertising industry over the past few years its that mobile messaging apps offer one of the most rich, engaging and effective ways to reach consumers. And while the industry likely has emoji fatigue, we’re happy to report that it’s just the stepping stone of a much bigger evolution hitting the mobile advertising industry. Personalized branded content is creating a groundswell of support from millennials because it doesn’t “feel” like advertising and it provides them with a fun way to communicate with friends or learn more about their favorite brand.
About the Author
Evan Wray is co-founder and vice president of Swyft Media, a subsidiary of Monotype. Swyft’s Mobile Engagement Platform helps brands and advertisers like MillerCoors, Dell, Ford and Jose Cuervo, among others, engage consumers with in-app branded mobile content like themed keyboards, digital stickers, emojis, branded chat and gifs. To date, Swyft has worked with more than 300 popular global brands such as MillerCoors, Ford, Jose Cuervo and 1-800-Flowers to create deep consumer engagement. Through its relationships with approximately 60 app partners, Swyft boasts one of the largest opportunities for brands to reach younger consumers in way that feels natural and unobtrusive. Evan holds a BA in Economics from the University of Notre Dame.