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Target squeezes features into mobile banner ad to drive engagement

A recent mobile banner ad from Target enabled viewers to move through a selection of different products and tap a button to make a purchase in an attempt to bring excitement to a format that faces challenges given how small it appears on smartphones. 

Native and video ads are growing quickly on mobile, but major advertisers still bet on banner ads due to their low cost and brands? familiarity with a format whose heritage is on desktop. However, with recent research showing that 60 percent of mobile banner ad clicks are accidental, marketers need to be giving consideration to a full set of mobile tactics.

?Mobile banner ads continue to play a big role in most strategies of developed brands,? said Shuli Lowy, marketing director at Ping Mobile. ?While an individual banner ad may not be as effective as a native ad, it can still drive stronger KPIs due to the lower cost for the ad space.

?Most brands will experiment with several forms of ads and optimize towards the best performing one,? she said.

Mobile shopping
The Target banner ad appeared recently at the top of the mobile news feed for Huffington Post. It promoted several different P&G hair care brands, including Pantene and Old Spice along with an offer for a $5 gift card with the purchase of multiple items. 

Keyboard symbols < and > encourage viewers to move backwards and forwards through the different products and offers. A buy now button takes viewers to a product page where they can make a purchase.

The ad unit tries to capitalize on several key trends in mobile, including that as adoption grows, especially for phones with larger screens, consumers are more comfortable with shopping on mobile.  

Mobile users are also increasingly comfortable with being able to scroll through different products within a mobile ad, increasingly recognize a variety of symbols as encouraging them to take action and are getting used to seeing shop now buttons across multiple formats.

Frustrated viewers
Banner ads on mobile continue to be reviled by many, in part because users may be clicking on them accidentally, skewing results.

A recent survey by Retale found that 60 percent of all mobile banner ad clicks are accidental, either by accident because of the device?s small screen size, a finger slipping or a combination of both. Only 16 percent said they click on mobile banner ads because they like the company, product or service being promoted and 13 percent doing so because the ads are interesting. 

With 68 percent feeling annoyed after accidentally clicking a mobile banner ad, brands needs to be careful of how they use banner ads.

Mobile display spend is expected to hit $18 billion this year, but the findings suggest that marketers should be looking for platforms on which users welcome branded or promotional messages, per the Retale report. 

?Ads perform best when they are transparent,? Ms. Lowy said. ?An ad should always provide an accurate preview of the landing page. Furthermore the experience should be clear about the desired conversion, assuming it's appropriately timed.

?CPGs that are trying to generate sales of a specific product often have a campaign perform best when it provides the shortest route to purchase,? she said. ?It therefore is common to see brands feature a Buy Now button that takes people directly to the purchase page.?