The Mobile Movement


Justine Frostad, Marketing & Events Manager, North America, The Exchange Lab

As crowds of people shuffled around Times Square moving from venue to venue for various sessions at this year’s annual Advertising Week New York they raced past expensive billboard real-estate and branded activations heads down, all-consumed by their phones. The image of people lost in their phones is not new to 2016, it’s been happening for years, but the image maintains its’ impact as a direct reflection of the rise of mobile.

The move to mobile continues as devices evolve and become an essential part of everyday life.  Now more than ever it’s important for marketers to stay laser focused on how they can make the most of the marketing opportunities available through this dynamic device. Considering that, according to Google 92% of smartphone owners who search on their phone make a related purchase within a day, it’s a medium that cannot be ignored.

Here are some key tips from Advertising Week New York around how marketers can make the most of mobile now and into 2017.

Tailor content to fit the screen

With so many devices and distractions apparent in daily life, for marketers who want to make real connections with their customers creative has become more important than ever. Audiences are always-on and increasingly irritated by messages that feel disruptive or lack relevance. The psyche of the customer has become a huge part of the strategy, informing content that ideally inspires and problem solves.

Brands can’t simply repurpose creative from other mediums because those messages and concepts may not have the same effect on a smaller screen or in a mobile context, which is more personal.

Well-tailored, good quality content is one of the most effective tools in mobile marketing, especially when informed by data and driven by demand, but context is a very close runner-up. As Marta Martinez from AOL pointed out during an Advertising Week panel, “We live in a world where consumers don’t have to find content, content has to find the consumer.”

Key considerations for creating content that resonates in a mobile environment include effective use of video, personalized offers, as well as connected campaigns across devices by way of programmatic advertising products and tools such as TV Sync, which allows advertisers, for example, to serve creative triggered by a certain television commercial.

Implementing a rich media campaign, which usually contains interactive elements, is a great way to inspire audience engagement. A strong example of rich media in action is a dynamic campaign for Narcos, the intense, true-crime Netflix series centered on cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar and the massive effort by law enforcement to take him down. This global campaign, created by the Netflix marketing team, rich media partner DoubleClick (Google) and media agency MEC, included motion assets made from specially shot footage pairing the stars of the show with the kingpin’s products swirling around them, meticulously edited to create a compelling content base for the campaign.

The campaign included elaborate page takeovers and tilt-to-choose mobile ads where, in the vein of the show, the audience was asked to accept a pay-off or die, revealing relevant video content upon selection. Another ad unit invited fans to blow on the microphone triggering a custom animation.

The value of personalization

There has never been a better or more challenging time for creativity in marketing. At the end of the day marketers are trying to fit the biggest ideas into the palm of a hand.

Cutting through the noise in today’s mobile-first world means putting your customers first by personalizing content in ways that prove you’re listening to what matters to them. People today resonate with messages that are authentic and relevant to what they care about, especially younger generations like Millennials and Gen Z.  

Video content is also widely effective. Cisco predicts that 75% of mobile data traffic will be video by 2020. Live video is taking off because it’s a combination of things people love; video and personal connection. Instagram Stories, Facebook Live and Snapchat have become widely popular with Snapchat announcing at Advertising Week that it now has 60 million daily active users in the U.S. and Canada. Major brands such as J Crew and Under Armour are experimenting with these platforms.

Beyond delivering content in a way that connects with your audience, personalization is about putting the customer front and center, ultimately making their lives easier or better. Reacting to the increase in time consumers are spending on mobile devices is critical, but the content needs to be beneficial to a need they have.

Marie Gulin-Merle, CMO at L’Oreal USA spoke on a panel hosted by Google at Advertising Week about how L’Oreal decided to galvanize their team around mobile, recognizing the fundamental shift in media consumption habits. The leading cosmetics company decided to focus on creating valuable experiences and tools for their customers, launching a digital mirror called Makeup Genius that allows their customers to try various shades and types of make-up using their phone. It was downloaded 20 million times.

Gulin-Merle also discussed the value of engaging your audience for content rather than focusing only on formal content creation, highlighting that the 50 billion beauty tutorials online are also forms of advertising, which didn’t exist ten years ago. Mobile tech is an enablement layer that allows marketers and content creators to focus on creative storytelling.

Learn by leading

Using a programmatic buying approach is key to ensuring successful data-driven campaigns that reach mobile audiences when and where it matters. Digital ads are driving offline behavior so it’s not about separating online and offline customers: it's all one customer. 

As marketers push the boundaries of what’s possible in mobile it’s important to focus on metrics that actually matter, rather than clicks or 100% viewability. Instead, marketers should start with a clearly defined goal and use metrics to explore what works and what doesn’t on the road to achieving their end mark. It’s always valuable to compare metrics and performance with trusted partners and have it verified by third parties. At the end of day it’s about creating experiences that inspire and engage your customers in exceptional ways, while challenging your team to stay on-brand as they push the limits of what’s possible with all the new platforms available

Video, especially live video is going to be a huge part of the evolution of mobile advertising in 2017 and beyond. Collaboration and risk-taking is key to elevating the quality of content and innovating in the medium. While the functionality of live streaming is in the early stages for brands, those who start testing these experiences are going to be the leaders in the space. One example comes from Sport Chek, the largest Canadian sporting goods retailer, who created a unique live experience bringing together Olympians and customers in their “Chase the Gear” activation. They hosted a live challenge in Toronto’s Hyde Park where Olympic athletes ran around the park wearing custom Sport Chek backpacks with flags attached while participants had to find them on Facebook Live, catch them and grab a flag to win free gear. Those who couldn’t make it to the park to participate could still engage in real-time by watching on Facebook Live, reacting and answering trivia online for a chance at additional prizes.

In the digital era evolution is constant so the concept of a ‘year of mobile’ doesn’t resonate and never has because we are constantly getting smarter, more efficient and increasingly creative. As marketers we’ll never reach the destination because it’s a moving target so we might as well enjoy the journey, creating content that inspires and amuses along the way.