Future of Mobile Advertising
I’ll start by telling you all something that I think a lot of people already agree with us on, but either blissfully accept or sub-conciously ignore anyway. The future of mobile content (in-app or mobile web) does not include tiny little display banners, ghastly pop-ups or irrelevant clickbait underneath an article. This is our belief and we are happy to be challenged on it.
We believe that on a mobile device, advertising will be separated from editorial and journalistic content. That there will be a clear divide between the content which they chose to consume and content which is being advertised to them (in whatever form that may be; prose, paid for content, display, video etc). This separation and transparency between ‘content’ and ‘advertising’ will be both through design and user experience. Publishers such as Buzzfeed and Quartz have already adopted part of this philosophy.
The experience must be transient for the user, whether they are consuming content, or advertising — giving both advert and content room to breathe and perform as it should. Advertising and content will not be competing for attention. Current successful advertising models such as TV show this already, we are more than happy to watch half of the content, then watch ads, then watch the other half of our content. We must replicate this on mobile. (You wouldn’t be too happy with an MPU floating over Walter White’s face when watching Breaking Bad).
Currently, both advertising and content compete for attention on a mobile device. The current mobile model sees both content and advertising crammed onto one screen. This cluttered and confusing experience for the user negatively impacts all involved. With little to no value created for user, publisher or advertiser. The current model will only depreciate over time as the two core drivers in the model trend downwards. ‘Impressions’ and ‘Value of ad’.
Firstly, the cluttered experience drives down the number of ‘impressions’. Pages are optimised for more ads to load on them — they are not optimised to encourage users to engage further with the site, read more articles, engage with the article, share content or discover more content. There is also a longer term impact on retention and loyalty of users here, which is slightly harder to quantify. The other metrics mentioned above can be easily seen in a publishers google analytics page — page views, bounce rate, time on site — all far lower than they should be on a mobile device.
Secondly, the current model is driving down the value of mobile ads. Publishers strive to cram as many ads on a page as possible to make money, thus competition drives the performance of each ad downwards. Low user engagement leads to low mobile ad performance. With advertisers struggling to see an ROI on mobile, the price they are willing to pay trends lower and lower.
It’s not as simple as it was in the 90’s and 00’s.
As a result, the mobile advertising model currently delivers poor results; low mobile engagement multiplied by a low (and getting lower) ad value.