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Top 10 mobile advertising campaigns from the first half of 2014

L?Oreal, Burger King and Nissan are among the brands leading the way so far this year in taking mobile advertising strategy to the next level through enhanced targeting, greater interactivity and native experiences. 

While mobile ad budgets continue to grow, too many campaigns are simply shrunken down versions of a desktop program. However, towards the middle of 2014, there was a flurry of activity from big brands pushing the enveloped on mobile creative and tactics.

A big focus during the first half of 2014 was on moving beyond location to leverage a range of data available about consumers for more targeted strategies. Additionally, brands added uniquely mobile interactive elements and crafted impactful native experiences.

Here are the top 10 mobile advertising campaigns of the first half of 2014, in alphabetical order.

Burger King's self-serve ads set stage for bigger mobile commitment
In June, Burger King began testing a way to deliver mobile coupons to consumers inside a geofence using a self-serve ad platform.

The ads promote the chain?s breakfast menu and are appearing on premium mobile sites such as Pandora. The ad unit itself exists as an overlay on top of the site or app being browsed, meaning consumers are not redirected to another site when they click on an ad.

By creating, deploying and measuring geotargeted rich media mobile ads itself instead of working with multiple vendors, Burger King is setting the stage for both a bigger commitment to mobile advertising and a pivot away from traditional banner ads.

The test is being conducted at five locations using FunMobility?s Mobile Engagement Platform, which has built-in audience targeting capabilities. It entails consumers inside a one-mile geofence receiving a coupon that can be saved to their devices.

The ads are being deployed as part of an A/B test comparing their impact against  standard banner ads using comparable creative, offers and audience targeting.

Hershey's unleashes sponsored mobile data opportunity with video campaign
With mobile data use growing as well as consumers? concerns over how much they are paying for the data, Hershey?s is one of the first brands to offer to sponsor data costs for consumers who watch a video for its Scharffen Berger chocolate brand.

The ads recently ran as banners in the Pandora iPhone app as part of AT&T?s new sponsored data program, which was introduced earlier this year. The sponsored content was only available to mobile users with an AT&T plan. 

 A click-through on the banner ad brought up a landing page showing a video, and copy on the ad explained to consumers that watching the clip would not dip into data from their phone plans.

Consumers could then watch a 30-second Scharffen Berger commercial.

Once the clip ended, a message told consumers that they saved two megabytes on their data plan by watching the sponsored video.

JetBlue tailors mobile ads to target tablets and smartphones separately
When the learnings from a campaign launched last year by JetBlue revealed significant differences between smartphone and tablet users, the brand fine-tuned the next leg of the ongoing effort this spring to provide a clear differentiation between smartphone and tablet ads.

JetBlue?s ?Air on the Side of Humanity? campaign uses a combination of long-form video, messaging and geofencing to tout the airline?s positioning as making traveling more enjoyable. The campaign was deployed in the Boston, New York and southern Florida markets.

The Air on the Side of Humanity campaign was singled out by Mobile Marketer last year as it was the first brand example of leveraging a voice-activated mobile ad (see story).

In the updated version, interstitial ads were delivered inside a geofence around public transit centers. On smartphones, the ads focused more on brand consideration and less on sales in deference to how smartphones are frequently used for travel research.

On tablets, the ads featured a rich media game as these users have longer periods of time to spend interacting with content. Additionally, tablet users on

 Hulu and CBS viewers saw long-form video from the brand.

L?Oreal personalizes mobile ads by hair color to drive relevancy
Beauty marketer L?Oreal Paris recently incorporated GumGum?s photo recognition technology to pick up on the hair colors of consumers in photos and personalize ads for its Ombre hair color line based on a consumer?s own hair color.

The campaign is an example of how marketers are looking for ways to personalize content on mobile in order to make it relevant for users and, hopefully, more responsive.

The campaign, which is being delivered across desktop and mobile, takes advantage of GumGum?s technology to detect the hair color of people in photos among the editorial content of its partners, such as Parade and In turn, a corresponding ad will be delivered directly to the consumer. For example, if dark hair is detected, then the technology may deliver an ad for dark hair-coloring products. 

 An in-image ?Slider? unit enables all of Ombre?s color products to be included when ads appear over photos unrelated to hair. Instead of a single product being shown, the Slider tool places a number of personalized products in front of consumers and they are able to slide through the list of products.

McDonald?s pivots towards native ads to reach younger consumers
In a stark change from McDonald?s typical flashy mobile ads that pack multiple calls-to-action and graphics into interactive ad formats, this spring the chain ran a new native ad campaign touting the origins of its coffee drinks.

The mobile ads ran within the mobile sites of publishers including Time Inc.?s Real Simple and Hearst?s Elle. With the burger chain struggling with same-store sales declines, the native strategy is an example of how the brand is trying to appeal to important younger consumers on mobile.

Younger consumers are most likely to ignore banner ads, with is why McDonald?s and other brands are increasingly looking for how meaningful ways to insert sponsored content within the flow of the editorial or entertainment content these consumers are already engaging with.

The McDonald?s ad resembled a piece of editorial content and read, ?This Is Where Your McCafé Comes From.? A second line of copy indicated that the ad was sponsored by McDonald?s. 

A click-through on the ad expanded to show a 30-second YouTube video showcasing how McDonald?s coffee is made through a time-consuming and laborious process with arabica coffee beans.

Buttons underneath the ad encourage consumers to share the content via email, Twitter and Facebook.

Nissan boosts interactivity for tablet video ad via hot spots
In a reflection of how savvy marketers are catering mobile ads to take advantage of the devices? unique characteristics, Nissan recently leveraged a new tablet ad unit that enabled viewers to interact with the brand?s video in-stream via tappable hot spots.

The 60-second video ad promoting the 2014 Nissan Rogue ran across Juice Mobile?s network and tallied up a 78 percent completion rate and a 93 percent engagement.

Nissan was the first to test drive Juice Mobile?s new ad unit, which enabled viewers to gain insight into the features of the Rogue and enhance the experience by tapping on five different hot spots.

The unit was designed to provide more of a two-way communication between the brand and a consumer.

The mobile campaign built on a TV ad for the Rogue called Winter Warrior that showed the car battling evil snowmen in a campaign designed to break through in the competitive compact SUV category while underscoring the need for a powerful vehicle to tackle Canada?s cold winters.

Nissan partnered with Juice Mobile and OMD on the campaign, which ran in Canada.

 The mobile ad reuses the TV spot and makes it interactive via five hot spots, with content highlighting statistics on winter weather and snow safety.

A prompt telling the user that the ad is interactive is shown first.

When viewers click on a hot spot, they see content further bringing home the message of the ad. In one example, when users tap on a hot spot, a message appears over the video explaining that the lowest temperature ever officially recorded in Canada and in North America is -63 degrees Centigrade on February 3, 1947 at Snag, Yukon.

Nivea?s Bluetooth-enabled print ad tracks kids at the beach
Nivea Sun Kids recently gave parents a way to help prevent kids from running off by themselves at the beach via a protector strip with a built-in locator and mobile application for tracking anyone wearing the strip. 

The Nivea Sun Kids brand promises to protect children?s skin at the beach and the mobile and print campaign built off this idea of protection by leveraging the capabilities of mobile and Bluetooth technology for a very pragmatic use case.

The protector strip print ad appeared in a recent issue of Brazil magazine Veja. Parents were able to remove the strip, which was embedded with Bluetooth 4.0 technology, put it on a child?s wrist and then download the Nivea Protégé app to identify the bracelet and set the maximum distance the child can go. If the limit was exceeded, the app notified parents and the radar indicated if they were approaching or moving away from the signal.

Parents could monitor the bracelet to a distance of approximately 30 meters.

The bracelet was made from humidity-resistant paper and could be reused.

Parents could activate multiple bracelets via the app.

Red Bull unleashes one-click Twitter video to hook app downloads
Earlier this year, Red Bull was one of the first brands to try out a new Twitter ad format that automatically plays video when a tweet is clicked on. The brand leveraged the ads to promote the newest addition to its growing portfolio of applications.

App install ads have quickly grown to become a favorite among brands and the Red Bull campaign is an example of how the brand continues to take a leading role in mobile marketing. In particular, Red Bull has a reputation for making strong video content that resonates with its customers. By leveraging a one-click video, this helped Red Bull improve engagement with its core audience.

The energy drink brand posted two tweets with different copy that promoted its new Red Bull Focus app, which is an interactive puzzle game.

Red Bull?s tweets contained a 15-second video that automatically played when it was clicked on. The clip showed off Red Bull?s collection of extreme sports photography, including skate and surfboard scenes.

A link below the video pulled in Apple?s App Store to download the app when clicked on.

Previously, videos were embedded into a tweet through links, but Red Bull?s tweet pulled the video into a custom video player.

Twitter?s one-click video ads are Twitter?s response to Facebook?s rollout of auto play video ads.

Renault launches highly targeted mobile campaign targeting electric car enthusiasts
In May, Renault ran a highly targeted mobile ad campaign that looked beyond location to ensure the right consumers were reached to raise awareness of its electric car Zoe and drive traffic to local dealerships.

To connect with nearby consumers in Britain who might be interested in an all-electric car, the campaign used a combination of data sources, including proprietary Apple data, Mosaic data and first-party data from Weve as well as demographic and socio-economic variables.

 The ads appeared on the mobile devices of qualified consumers who browsed relevant content or called dealerships on their phones.

The messages appeared on smartphones and tablets within a five-mile radius of Renault dealerships, with some difference in creative based on the device that was used.

One of the biggest changes in mobile advertising this year is in how brands are using location to reach their audience. Scale has previously been a limitation in complex targeting but with the mass adoption of smartphones and tablets well as skyrocketing content consumption rates on these devices, there are more opportunities for brands to reach these consumers at scale in a way that was not possible even last year.

By pairing location data with other consumer data that enabled Renault to identify consumers in the market for a car, the brand was able to make a bigger impact with its ad buy.

Renault worked with agency Manning Gottlieb OMD on the campaign, with the creative designed and built by Mobile 5 using creative concepts by Publicis.

Universal tallies up 7M engagements for Endless Love photo-editing app campaign
Universal Pictures leveraged a new photo-editing application to target a specific audience of younger females for new movie "Endless Love," and the campaign resulted in more than seven million engagements and more than 10,000 hours of total brand-engagement time.

The romantic drama particularly appeals to the segment of consumers who use photo-sharing apps, so Universal leveraged the Aviary app to hit the right audience. The app lets users edit photos, and for this campaign users could add Endless Love themed stickers, frames and filters to their photos.

The campaign is a good example of how brands can leverage mobile apps to drive awareness with a key audience in a nontraditional way.

Universal?s "Photo Valentine" campaign let consumers use a collection of branded photo-editing tools to send Valentines from selfies or other photos. The campaign launched on Jan. 21 within the Aviary app. 

Universal worked with Aviary, Ignited and Millennial Media for this campaign.

Some of the content that consumers could add to photos included film-inspired word art and embellishments for designing valentines as well as frames and filters for adding a finishing touch. 

Consumers could also insert an image of Endless Love?s Alex Pettyfer and superimpose him into their photos.

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