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Turning rich media from a gimmick into a campaign?s standalone

Oreo, Chase and Coach are all brands that have recently used rich media as a cornerstone of their campaigns, showing how the technology is increasingly taking center-stage in mobile advertising.

Although rich media might be effective at telling a campaign?s story, it should not just be tacked onto a campaign to boost user engagement. Similar to all marketing initiatives, the first step in deciding whether or not to use rich media is to identify a campaign?s objective.

?Fetch does not view rich media as gimmicky, so long as rich media is thought of first as a tactic and not a strategy,? said Tim Villanueva, account director at Fetch, San Francisco.

?Many marketers and brands could feel the pressure of maintaining their company?s grasp on the bleeding edge of technology or winning more creative awards, so they end up focusing on running the sexiest new ad unit without thinking first about what results they want to achieve,? he said.

?This desire can be fueled by mobile rich media vendors and ad networks who are sometimes more quick to pitch their newest technology-infused ad unit without taking the time to really understand the client?s business first. As a result, marketers might find it difficult to imagine how a particular rich media unit can actually directly affect business and marketing goals.?

End-to-end experience
For some marketers, rich media has been seen as a gimmicky way to lure consumers to tap and engage with mobile ads.

However, with smartphone penetration growing, interactive ad units are becoming more common for both in-app and mobile Web advertising.

Rich media is also taking center stage in some campaigns as the primary way to tell a brand's story.

For example, Oreo recently used an interactive advertising campaign to promote a new line of cookies. In order for consumers to learn more about the product, they had to use their finger to swipe a line of cookies down a conveyor belt into a bag (see story).

Using rich media for product launches can be particularly effective because it lets users interact with a product that they might not be familiar with otherwise.

However, marketers also need to think about their mobile campaigns with an end-to-end strategy.

Michelob Ultra also used rich media earlier this year to promote a new line of light cider drinks. The interactive portion of the campaign walked users through the process of making the drinks. However, at the end of the campaign, users were directed to an un-optimized page to learn more about Michelob Ultra (see story).

?We have found the key to a successful rich media campaign however is first setting clear and measurable goals as well as grounding the strategy in target insights,? Mr. Villanueva said.

?Once goals and key performance indicators have been set, ensure that there are tracking tools in place to optimize and report back on campaign performance,? he said. ?Secondly, ask yourself important questions around your target. What types of mobile devices do they spend the most time on? Based on their mobile media behavior, would they be more inclined to play in a game or watch a video about your brand??

Fragmented landscape
According to Mat Harris, director of products at InMobi, Palo Alto, CA, one of the main challenges with rich media is fragmentation in the industry.

With a large number of operating systems, application code settings and mobile Web configurations, it can be difficult for brands to scale rich media.

?Brands often have to give up some creative control to get the reach they need, or give up reach or publisher selections to stay true to their creative concepts,? Mr. Harris said.

?Not all ads will run everywhere, so there is some level of compromising in order to arrive at a workable ad,? he said.

Measurement mess
Measurement is consistently an issue for marketers in the space. Campaigns increasingly need to move beyond a click-through rate as the primary metric to gauge success. When it comes to rich media, engagement can be an equally as important metric.

Engagement is a broad umbrella term for many marketers and can vary greatly from brand to brand. Examples of softer engagement metrics can include brand recall, purchase intent or product consideration.

For instance, movie studios that promote upcoming films might use rich media to let consumers watch a short trailer with the end goal of driving ticket sales.

?Rich media has evolved rapidly over the past year with the introduction of the IAB MRAID standard,? said Paul Childs, chief marketing officer and founder at Adfonic, London. ?It has shifted from a capability limited to premium publishers and networks to a capability with global scale and reach at lower cost and efficiency.?

?Rich media may be viewed as gimmicky by marketers if an online campaign is re-used or copied onto mobile without consideration for the mobile channel or calls-to-action,? he said.

?Like with any campaign, you must develop a superior engaging consumer experience with clear outcomes and objectives identified. That way you will deliver rich media campaigns that generate impact.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York