Nov 13 2012
Noor Naseer

Let’s Face the Music on Mobile


Was 2012 the “Year of Mobile” as many players in the space have preached, promised and prayed it would be? While I’m not thrilled to say it, it probably wasn’t. Mobile advertising remains nestled in a space of spending limbo in the grand scheme of noted brands’ advertising budget.

Like a tireless, broken record, advocates aim to shift advertiser’s perceptions with a variation of these words: Mobile consumption remains one of the most frequently used media channels that many advertisers barely or rarely allocate budget for.

I don’t think anyone questions that the exponential rise in mobile consumption confirms the relevance and viability of the medium as an advertising canvas. (Get it and got it, daily e-newsletters!)

However, referencing sizeable consumption of content on mobile devices and the rapid growth of smartphone penetration as the core reasons for adopting mobile to a media mix might be a shortsighted viewpoint. Those two contentions alone don’t address a key issue that keeps skeptics wary of the space: The presentation of mobile ad executions themselves.

A recently published Bloomberg Businessweek article notes that despite the convenience and personal nature of the platform, mobile users are commonly greeted with interruptive executions that are a far cry from advertisements in alternative media spaces.

For instance, online and print ads are typically presented as adjacencies that users accept as placements alongside content they are consuming. Television, broadband and radio ads are placed in pulsated intervals that users easily anticipate as they consume sight and sound-based content. Furthermore, TV and radio ads are often executed in narrative formats that naturally grab a user’s attention.

It’s therefore no surprise when advertisers feel skeptical of mobile, especially when many brands have broken into the mobile space by testing static banners, a format that visually does little to catalyze a user’s desire to engage.

These might seem like ironic words coming from a mobile strategist. But ultimately, in order to most effectively serve as ambassadors for the space, mobile advocates must do two things:

1)      Keep clients aware of the medium’s capacity to reach consumers where they regularly seek content and

2)      Showcase mobile executions’ capacity to play less of a disruptive role and more of a desirable opportunity for users to willfully engage with a brand via mobile device (i.e. mobile rich media and mobile video).

As mobile evangelizing continues and more advertisers recognize new execution opportunities available in mobile, 2013 is now better set up as a contender for the “Year of Mobile.”