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May 05, 2016

It's that time of year. The advertising world has historically shoehorned annual budget planning into the spring Upfront period, so that brands can lock in a commitment to premium television (and now video) programming.

While nobody will disagree that there's a wide variety of video content out there, and that the most premium content is worth a multiple over lower quality inventory, allow me to suggest that before you spend a dime on adjacency to prime video content, you make sure you've accurately budgeted enough for your brand's presence on mobile first.
This shouldn't come as a surprise: I'm sure you've heard that US consumers spend more time in apps than watching TV (if you haven't, look at this TechCrunch article). An analysis by Flurry released last fall found that the average US consumer is now spending 198 minutes per day inside apps, versus 168 minutes watching television.

So why is budgeting for adjacency to prime video content the foundation of a brand's annual budget, and why is it so common for brands to still be "testing" mobile? Users have shifted their attentions to mobile, so brands should, too.

I get it—TV has (historically had) some characteristics that mobile has struggled with. Let's talk about three of them. I think this is the year mobile caught up with TV in these areas.

Now that usage patterns have shifted, can we get past the argument that TV is the best way to build reach? In fact, during this Upfront cycle, many TV networks are announcing partnerships with major mobile properties and apps to show that they can reach the younger, millennial audience. As AdExchanger notes, TV channels that carry sporting events are now looking to mobile partnerships to move their marketing campaigns forward, and Viacom is set to sell ads through Snapchat, according to the Wall Street Journal. So why not lead your advertising plan with the reach you can get from mobile, and add TV later?

Television often touts its "clean, well-lit" environment for advertisers and brands fight over adjacency to the best content and better commercial pod positions. Premium, relevant adjacency exists on mobile, too. Native formats, particularly in-app environments (like those on Waze), match the form and function of what a user is doing. Instead of just considering if your message is being placed in a "clean, well-lit environment," why not optimize so that your message matches the user experience at the time of delivery? The Mobile Marketing Association has issued a helpful set of resources about native advertising, encouraging brands to think through where and when their message fits into users' experiences—and how to measure success.

Decades of studies show that buying GRPs on television leads to recall, consideration, and intent. However, tons of publishers are doing innovative work tying mobile ad exposure to new success metrics. Waze can focus ad exposures to users within a certain radius of business locations and then show the lift in drives that the exposure causes. I'd say that's more powerful than reaching "adults 18–34" and hoping to shift purchase intent.

So, yes, I acknowledge that buying mobile is still a bit more complicated.

But isn't it time to change and match user behavior? And shouldn't we plan ahead to do it right, so that your brand is ever-present in the clean, well-lit mobile places where users are looking for relevant information?

Mobile is many different experiences, often extremely personal. Ram Krishnan, senior VP-chief marketing officer at PepsiCo is quoted in Ad Age as saying, "Brands have to think about their role when they appear on the mobile screen, because mobile is the most personalized screen. People are often engaging with friends and family, and brands have to have a clear plan when they interrupt that conversation."

To do mobile advertising right, you need to consider context very carefully. That will require negotiating with multiple publishers to make sure your messages are in the right places. See that creative is tailored to seamlessly fit various environments, and understand that success metrics will likely be different by publisher.

Make the most of the season by planning for the right mobile adjacencies. If it's putting your brand's content near amazing video content, fantastic—make sure you're ever-present there, where consumers should expect to find you. And if it's reaching people on-the-go, via a mobile driving companion app, well, I know an ads platform you should check out. Let's make this the year that we move beyond "testing" to an always-on approach that consistently connects mobile first users with brands.
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