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IAB exec: Role of creativity in mobile is growing

Early mobile marketing efforts were focused heavily on leveraging data, often to the detriment of strong creative executions. This is beginning to change as marketers gain more expertise in mobile, paving the way for more visually appealing mobile campaigns in the future.

Marketers have long wrestled with which is more important to the success of their efforts: research insights or beautiful campaigns. Mobile brings some unique nuances to the conversation because of the wealth of information available about mobile users and the challenges inherent in such small screen sizes.

With this in mind, the Interactive Advertising Bureau released new research at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this week on creativity in mobile: A Mobile Manifesto: Creative Leaders On the Art of Successful Mobile Brand Advertising. The report pinpoints some of the best practices from a creative aspect for mobile advertising such as that a striking color palette can drive ad recall but legibility is paramount and that clear and persistent branding is important for building brand awareness.

In an interview with Mobile Marketer, Joe Laszlo, senior director of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence at the IAB, New York, discusses the growing role of the creative in mobile marketing.

Why is the conversation about creativity versus data in mobile an important one?
It is definitely something that has been a part of not just mobile advertising, but all advertising from the era of Mad Men to the present that you have this tension between the creatives who want to build something beautiful and unique and that?s really going to strike a chord with the consumer and the scientists who think everything should be quantifiable. If it is striking a chord with the consumer, we should be able to tell which chord that is and how much it has been struck. If an ad doesn?t generate those kinds of numbers, then it is not working.

It is not unique to mobile, this creative versus data question, but I think it is a sign that maybe mobile is starting to become more mature as an advertising medium that this age-old conversation is beginning to take place in the mobile world.

Does mobile bring anything unique to the conversation in terms of what challenges and opportunities marketers face?
There are some amazing opportunities to do unique things in mobile that change both the art side and science side of the question. I look at the mobile ad campaigns that really stand out in some way, the ones that have won Cannes Lions awards or that win IAB Mixx awards and there are things that you could only do with a mobile device, either because they take advantage of some unique capability of a mobile phone or a tablet - changing orientation, shaking the device or location capabilities. All these things that are not characteristics of any other kind of advertising are the things that really make mobile ads stand out in my mind.

Because it is digital, most or all of those things are measureable. So on the creative side of things, you have all of these new tools in the tool kit in terms of how to make an ad that consumers are really going to find appealing and memorable. And all of those things lead to new metrics that could potentially help access if this campaign was successful or not.

In mobile advertising today, what role does creativity play?
Up until very recently, the role of creative planning and execution has been pretty small; smaller than maybe it should be.

It is only recently that we are starting to see mobile ad formats that use the full screen and use rich media effectively. As long as ad agencies think of mobile advertising as just being about 320 pixel wide by 50 pixel tall banner ads, that?s not going to be worth necessarily a lot of time to design the creative that goes into that little box.

It is only once the creative side of the industry realizes that mobile can be about full-screen experiences that are very immersive and dynamic and beautiful that is when creatives? ears perk up and they start to get interested. And then creative becomes a more strategic part of the planning and execution of a campaign.

How will the role of creativity evolve going forward?
There are definitely lots of hopeful signs that creative is becoming a bigger part of the mobile ad planning process. There are still some things that need to be worked out and get better.

Most creative agencies don?t have a lot of expertise in actually building mobile creative. So they tend to outsource that need to rich media vendors.

You see the agency play a planning and strategy role ? they come up with the concept, but they lack the resources, knowledge and expertise in-house to actually execute that concept. That is going to be the next hurdle that needs to be overcome in terms of really seeing more and more great creative executions on mobile. I think that agencies are beginning to understand how to build the strategies. Next they need to bring tools and expertise in house to actually build the ads themselves.

What needs to happen to attract and get creative folks excited about mobile?
I think it has really been mostly a question of time and knowledge and expertise. Mobile is still fairly young as an advertising medium. It has taken a while for the companies that really build beautiful digital ads to understand how mobile is similar to and how it is different from the world of PCs. Now that that knowledge has started to seep in and there is a growing body of knowledge of great mobile creative to look at and get inspired from, that?s what really sparking this transition to more and more good, and even great, mobile creative out in the marketplace.

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