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Bad mobile ads damage brand perception and performance

While many marketers grasp the significant potential in mobile to reach consumers in new and exciting ways, mobile ads that lack creative vision or the proper execution still abound, hurting campaign performance and damaging brand perception as mobile increasingly becomes the primary media consumption channel.

Despite being the fastest growing area of marketing, mobile can be intimidating for marketers because it introduces new technical and creative challenges. The fact that marketers are not taking the time to address these challenges is evident in the number of banner ads that have clearly been migrated over to mobile from desktop.

?Repeating banner ads at microscopic size doesn't do the brand or the business any favors,? said Tom Eslinger, worldwide creative director of digital at Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, and author of the new book "Mobile Magic: The Saatchi & Saatchi Guide to Mobile Marketing."

?I see more tools and measurement methods literally every week,? he said. ?We need to use these insights and use these as a lens for divining what works for both the brand and the customer: Minimize doing the wrong clumsy thing with some real insights. People will usually be flattered with the effort to understand them.

?Mobile ideas need to be mobile ideas: Everything is heading to high-level personalized messages that are tuned to time, place, activity and mindset, and to get there we need to look at how we can make insightful ideas with the customer at the center.?

Mobile, social, intimate, transactional
Much like with most marketing, marketers should start a creative idea, in this case one that addresses mobile users? needs.

The four principles that are core to all successful marketing campaigns, per Mr. Eslinger, are mobile, social, intimacy and transactional. Without them, any mobile app, Web site, augmented reality project, game or texting campaign will never reach its full potential.

?Use the tools we have to figure out what to talk about, when to do it, have a creative mobile idea and make it a sharable, authentic experience. And do it now,? Mr. Eslinger said.

Some marketers are concerned about how much information consumers are comfortable sharing. At the same time, consumers want advertisers to understand their needs and get frustrated when they do not.

Competitive disadvantage
However, marketers are not taking the time to figure out what the fact that someone is on a mobile device means about their search intent, user intent or needs.

This could hurt brands from a competitive perspective.

?One big danger is the brand not understanding the value of mobile because performance is going to be impacted,? said Jeremy Hull, Fort Worth, TX-based director of bought media at iProspect. ?If you?ve got someone else playing in the space and doing it well, they are going to win in mobile and you are not going to.

?It is easy to jump to the conclusion that mobile does not work for us when in reality you are not setting yourselves up for success,? he said.

?There is also a brand perception issue where the user thinks the brand that doesn?t care about them or isn?t in-tune with their needs or desires. A lot of the time when people are searching on mobile, they are looking for a quick answer and they are going to get frustrated if they can?t get it.?

Inflated expectations
Bad mobile ads happen because, in general, mobile is still an after-thought when developing assets, in part because it is still a challenge to show the value of mobile ads.

There are many examples showing how mobile ads are missing the mark.

"When consumers have a frustrating interaction with a brand, that frustration translates into their brand perception as well as their tendency to reengage with the said brand ? it?s as simple as that," said Shuli Lowy, New York-based marketing director at Ping Mobile
"Marketers need to work on moving towards ad experiences that are less intrusive and more engaging," she said. "The allure of an ad can come from the ad design/message or from the ad experience, which can be interactive, augmented or multi dimensional."

Some times mobile ads are often one-offs and not part of an ongoing strategy or integrated with efforts in other channels.

Additionally, many marketers think of mobile primarily as a direct response channel and fail to consider the opportunities to make a lasting impression via immersive experiences.

?The perennial challenge with mobile advertising is that it is too often seen as a siloed buy,? said Gary Schwartz, president and CEO of Impact Mobile, Toronto. ?Mobile can and should be multiscreen and horizontal. The mobile ad should be seen as part of a wider digital strategy.

?There is also a perception that mobile impressions are the final foot in the consumer?s journey and they should have some measurable return,? he said. ?Whether this be click-to-commerce or geo-targeted door swing offer, a brand tends to look at advertising as a direct response channel, which leads to inflated expectations.?

Overthinking it
Marketers are also often too focused on mobile tactics.

As a result, not enough effort is put into developing a creative idea that is driven by the mobile consumer?s behavior.

?We tend to overthink mobile advertising,? Mr. Schwartz said. ?Brands are so focused on innovative mobile creative ad units that they lose site of the mobile consumer?s behavior.

?QR codes, augmented reality and other solutions can get in the ways of a simple and powerful brand impression,? he said.

There are signs that marketers are looking harder at creating stronger mobile ads.

For example, investment in mobile video ads is growing.

?One of the more important changes underway is the investment in the mobile creative,? said Victor Milligan, chief marketing officer at Nexage, Boston. ?Gone is the belief that slamming online ads into mobile will work; we have entered a time frame where the strategic value of mobile will, in part, be expressed with a strategic investment in the mobile creative.

?As case in point, we expect that rich media and video ad units will become the majority ad unit on the Nexage Exchange by end of year 2015,? he said.

?The accelerating growth of rich media and video helps to further fuel the growing brand spend ? creating the necessary creative canvass to move consumers through the funnel.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York