We’re safely in the age of the smartphone, and yet brands continue to struggle to connect with consumers on mobile. It isn’t altogether surprising -- unlike desktop, mobile doesn’t provide a predefined space in which brands can approach consumers.
Unfortunately, this means many brands continue to use antiquated desktop advertising strategies on mobile apps. Not only is the approach outdated, but it undermines the core purpose of brand advertising: to create emotional connections with consumers.
Below are three surefire strategies for brands looking to update their mobile advertising strategy and turn consumers into brand loyalists in the process.
1. Think about timing.
When it comes to targeting on mobile, while advertisers have the “who” down through first and third-party data, many ignore the even more important “when.” It’s not enough to hit consumers with an ad simply whenever there is an opportunity. Instead, brands should identify the moments when users are likely the most emotionally receptive to content, and target them then.
Finding those occasions on mobile is a multi-step process. First, advertisers need to infer the best moment within a mobile session to target a user. Data such as when a struggling player is most likely to abandon a mobile game provides insight into the emotions that player is likely experiencing, and should be used to craft a brand's message. In this case, one good strategy is offering the user a chance to win additional chances to play.
Second, brands need to say goodbye to blind automation and replace it with intelligent, data driven, dynamic strategies for determining when to initiate a conversation. For instance, a consumer who attempts to use a premium filter in a photo app but decides not to buy it will likely be emotionally receptive to a branded message that offers that same filter for free. Whenever possible, brands should use data to connect the dots about what a user is experiencing and shape their messages accordingly.
2. Aim for a seamless delivery.
Once you’ve identified the right moment, the delivery needs to be expertly executed. This means integrating an ad experience seamlessly into an app's user flow and delivering it in an immersive yet user-friendly ad format.
Often this requires that brands work closely with app developers. Why? Users are already opting into developers’ apps, and are thus inclined to trust and value the experience. Properly aligning with the publisher automatically helps a brand gain credibility, which can make users more receptive to an ad’s message. Users count on the publisher to keep disruptions at bay while offering an unmatched experience. Therefore, brands should trust the app developer to determine the best in-app strategy for approaching consumers.
3. Provide real value.
Today’s savvy mobile consumers don’t give their attention or loyalty for free. Brands have to first provide value, and then allow consumers to decide whether it’s worth their time.
For most consumers, the idea that advertising is a fair exchange for free content is an outdated one. Therefore, advertisers need to improve users’ in-app experience in some way and give them a reason to pay attention and appreciate the brand, a concept known as value exchange advertising. It has to be true value though -- while many brands hope that an entertaining brand experience or ad counts as true value, it’s rarely the case. Instead, brands should consider tangible rewards such as coupons or in-app deals that provide instant gratification.
In addition to real value, in most cases brands should allow users to navigate and control their interactions with mobile ads. If a user feels forced to engaged, even the most expertly designed and delivered ad will likely cause resentment. Remember: consumers’ attention spans are short, and their perceptions of brands are fluid.
As many marketers and developers are coming to realize, today’s consumers are best captivated in fleeting moments, which puts the pressure on brands to engage in meaningful ways on mobile. The stakes are high but so are the rewards, and brands have to get it just right to win over users.