AWNEWYORK: Better Mobile Ads? It’s Going to Come From Marketers

We have to do better than this. And we will.

Advertising Week New York 2017 kicked off in earnest on Monday, September 25 at Liberty Theater in New York City with WHOSAY’s “We Must Be Able to Do Better Than This. Making Better Ads for Mobile” panel moderated by CEO Steve Ellis with the participation of Natalie Monbiot, SVP Futures Starcom, Ian Schafer, Chief Experience Officer, Engine USA, Brian Wong, CEO/Founder, Kiip and Russ Freyman Head of Partnerships Google.

“The solution is going to come from new marketers, not from new platforms,” Schafer said responding to Ellis’ assertion that however difficult it is to “make relationships” on a six-inch screen, “banners are not the answer.”

It was an honest discussion during which the industry top marketers faced some home truths. Namely, that, despite the explosive growth of influencer marketing during the last few years, the new discipline has yet to unlock its true potential in order to take up $20 billion in digital brand advertising dollars. “When done well, Influencer marketing outperforms in all these traditional media measurement categories  – and not by a little, but by a lot,”  has been Ellis’ mantra. But that, obviously, is easier said than done.

The challenges faced by mobile marketers go beyond the providential six-inch screen. “Mobile is the thing that starts to disrupt the ad industry as we know it” Schafer said echoing the panel’s consensus on the disruptive nature of the format as well as its advantages when it comes to delivering content in a more personable manner. “Advertising is native, it kind of disappear into the content,” Monbiot highlighted.  

One of the most insightful bits had to do with the behavioral nature of mobile advertising. “Mobile is less about content and more about behavior,” said Wong addressing the elephant in the room: the six-inch screen alone is not the solution. “The phone is probably the last screen we get to place ads on,” said Schafer driving the point that the solution to bad mobile ads might include “old school” solutions such as email, which Monbiot had floated as a very feasible possibility. “Email today hasn’t taken opportunity of its context,” she said.

So, how do we do better than this? The answer seem to lie in a multipurpose approach focused on the behavioral nature of mobile and a much-improved user experience where banners and pop-up ads are a thing of the past: a way to seamlessly merge branded content on social media feeds without disrupting users at their most intimate. Until then, we likely will be making content to feed the increasingly ubiquitous ad blockers.