The IAB 2017 Mobile Symposium
A Mobile Guy at a Mobile Conference Listening to Content on Mobile – Thoughts from the Day
The IAB held its 2017 Mobile Symposium in New York on June 13. The theme for this year’s event was “Always On: Surviving and Thriving in a Mobile World.” This could have been the theme for the past five years’ events – and could probably work for the next five years ahead as well. As mobile handset numbers continue to grow globally, the fight for attention and survival on the smartphone screen will be increasingly more important – and more challenging.
Obviously, there was a lot to discuss at the IAB event, so I’ll dive right into some of the themes that were featured throughout the day:
Mobile Time Spent vs. Mobile Ad Spend
Today, advertisers are spending more money on display, but that trend is beginning to shift: as consumers spend increasingly more time on mobile, our ad spend should shift accordingly. There is a $16 billion gap today between the time spent on mobile and the ad dollars funneling towards it. Research shows that a full 28 percent of consumer time is spent on mobile, yet only 21 percent of ad spend heads in that direction.
Consider too that competition for attention is coming from multiple screens. People watching primetime TV are generally on multiple screens, and approximately 80+ percent look to their phones when a commercial comes on. The younger the audience, the higher the percentage turning to their mobile screens. Advertisers spend $39 for a prime-time CPM, but mobile CPMs could be as low as $7 to reach the same person at the same moment – and on mobile, you’d have their undivided attention.
From Mobile to Mobility
Another common theme discussed focuses on the philosophical aspects of mobile marketing – and brings up some very valid ideas that we frequently overlook. Alexa Christon, head of media innovation at GE, led a session that discussed how her company “sets itself apart by weighing scalable options against cutting-edge solutions in a constantly evolving market.” There were a lot of smart takeaways as Christon dove into the ways in which GE focuses more on customer behavior, rather than specific channels.
One key point from Christon is that we must remember that we are not advertising to a mobile device, we’re advertising to a mobile person. Too frequently we focus too heavily on the screen, rather than the person looking at the screen, and how they are experiencing and receiving our messages.
At Blis, we remind marketers of the importance and value of taking into consideration behavioral data over time and using it to build audience profiles. These profiles will serve to drive better and more accurate targeting.
Beating Ad Blocking with Mobile
Mark Howard, CRO of Forbes talked about “Reimagining the User Experience,” an important topic given the state of ad blocking today. There are no ad blockers for formats other than digital. Consumers may turn off the TV when a commercial comes on. They can rip a full-page print ad out of a magazine. However, they do not seem as violently opposed to these as they do to digital advertisements, where users are actively blocking ads from their screens. The number of consumers using ad blockers should be taken as a strong clue that the user experience needs to improve if we are going to have effective campaigns -and if we intend to continue growing ad spend.
The creative possibilities for ads are so much better on mobile than on any other platform: augmented reality, AI-based ads, location-relevant ads. We can create ads that react to shaking or swiping a device. We can design interactive gaming ads. There shouldn’t be any reason for consumers to choose to block ads. In fact, the only reasons for a bad user experience on mobile are laziness, lack of budget or lack of creativity. The mobile platform truly gives us the opportunity to “surprise and delight.”
While the Symposium was a great event overall, there were some misconceptions about mobile that should be clarified. Before wrapping up, let me quickly run through those:
There seemed to be some confusion around what certain types of location data are capable of, for example cell tower triangulation, and what it does and what it does not do. It is not capable of accuracy down to a user specific lat/long – but it is fine if your target is broader, like a neighborhood versus a specific business. It appears that some marketers do not understand the in’s and out’s of location data types but, fear not, we have explained that in another one of our posts here.
There is also a critical misconception that mobile advertising is only for young audiences. Many marketers seem to think that mobile is only valuable to for reaching millennials and younger targets – but the stats prove that’s just not true. In fact, one out of every five people use their phone every five mins, the majority (63 percent) of smartphone owners worldwide use their mobile device at least every 30 minutes. Here in the U.S., 77 percent of all Americans own smartphones – from every age and every demographic!
One key takeaway for me was the observation that marketers still are not looking at location as a way of behavioral profiling & targeting. Their view seems limited to the basics of geo-fencing and geo-targeting. At Blis, we believe that where you go defines who you are and it is about understanding the movements of your audience to generate the most impactful advertising.
The IAB Mobile Symposium was an informative and well-organized event overall. There were lots of new ideas and helpful reminders shared. For me, it was a solid reminder that at Blis, we remain ahead of the curve in location advertising, and we have a lot of knowledge to share with the rest of the industry.