Getting mobile marketing moving

“Mobile first” is the buzz phrase that is driving advertising strategy around the world as brands and advertisers look to make this rapidly growing channel central to their marketing programmes.

“The appeal of mobile is obvious,” says Richard Nunn, chief revenue officer at RhythmOne, an online advertising company that connects digital audiences with brands through premium content across devices. He cites a recent report by Deloitte that revealed Americans checked their phones on average 48 times a day last year, up from 33 times, while those in the 18 to 24 age bracket did so on 74 occasions daily.

Advertisers are just beginning to grasp the full potential of mobile

“It’s largely about scale,” he says. “There are around two billion devices globally and so mobile is the best way for advertisers to reach eyeballs. Improved targeting is also positioning mobile as the most powerful of all advertising channels.

“You can target by device, by operating system and by time of day, as well as a variety of audience demographics and purchase behaviours. Couple this with the location-based targeting unique to mobile and you have a powerful combination.”

“However, advertisers are just beginning to grasp the full potential of mobile,” Mr Nunn argues. He points to research from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), which shows that while consumers spend about around 25 per cent of their screen time on mobile media, advertisers are only allocating around 12 per cent of their advertising budget to this channel.

Compare this with print, which represents a mere 4 per cent of media consumption time, but swallows up 16 per cent of advertising spend. KPCB calculates this gap represents a $22-billion opportunity for advertisers to align better with consumer consumption habits.

So what should advertisers be doing to make the most of mobile’s vast power to reach consumers? Firstly, they have to think creatively. “It’s about using various mobile ad formats including video and leveraging the native features of the device, like the accelerometer, to create entertaining and informative advertising experiences that will appeal to audiences and make them want to engage with it,” says Mr Nunn.


The most effective mobile advertising, he explains, is a fusion of art and science.  “The art is the creativity – the best creative advertising ideas really resonate. The science is the data – the ability to precisely segment and target your audience,” he says.

Secondly, brands need to exploit the full potential of mobile data to create more dynamic ad experiences. A campaign could, for instance, not only hone in on the appropriate demographic, but also take into account the time of day to serve a consumer an ad that features the sun setting out the window. It could also leverage weather inputs. When weather forecasts predict rain, a brand could use this to serve an ad that, for example, encourages consumers to snuggle up indoors with a new down comforter.


Mobile, by its very definition, allows advertisers to target consumers better by using geolocation. “It’s possible to tell, for instance, that I am a frequent consumer at a quick-service restaurant,” explains Mr Nunn. “This information could be used in conjunction with my geolocation and competitor chains could target me with a special offer when I am in the vicinity of one of their locations.”

Thirdly, mobile-infused influencer marketing offers significant and growing potential, especially for younger audiences. Influencer marketing is expected to grow to $1 billion by 2018, according to user-generated media research company Technorati.  Meanwhile, market research company eMarketer calculates that US native display advertising spending is projected to surpass traditional display ad spending this year before going on to grow at double-digit rates for the next few years.

“Imagine that you’re an olive oil manufacturer,” says Mr Nunn. “You could approach an influencer, such as a chef with a well-known social presence, and pay them to create video content for mobile in which they use your olive oil in a variety of recipes they prepare.”

Influencer content is powerful and impactful. However, the real benefit comes from amplification. An influencer might have two million followers, but by building a look-alike profile, we can create an audience-based targeting segment and use programmatic exchanges to amplify distribution among consumers with similar characteristics. These people will then receive an ad that features some of the best influencer-created content, thereby extending the reach of the campaign.

Fourthly, creating engaging, absorbing mobile-optimised video and serving it to carefully segmented audiences is also essential. Agencies should combine creativity with targeting. “For many demographic groups, nearly all video consumption occurs on a mobile device,” says Mr Nunn. “If you are an apparel retailer, mobile may be the ideal vehicle to reach different consumer segments with highly bespoke video content featuring look-books of age and gender-specific fashions. Video is the highest performing and highest growth area on mobile.”

Finally, in order to target audiences most accurately and to exploit the huge benefits of scale that mobile offers, advertisers need to embrace programmatic. RhythmOne’s programmatic exchange RhythmMax, for example, provides a turnkey platform that connects publishers with advertisers in an auction-based environment, with transactions being made in the space of just 120 milliseconds around the globe 24/7. In this way, programmatic can help brands scale their mobile campaigns efficiently.

Putting together these five elements will help brands and advertisers to take advantage of mobile’s unique potential to reach and engage audiences.

However, the scope of mobile is constantly being extended, according to Mr Nunn.  Big data, wearables and the internet of things are among the innovations that are already coming online, as is virtual reality, which allows a mobile phone user to “visit” a virtual store and view it in 360 degrees.

“There’s so much potential,” he says. “It’s those brands and advertisers that can exploit and then co-ordinate all these exciting elements to get a single, accurate view of the customer that will reap the rewards.”


1.  Be creative: Use the unique features of mobile devices to create imaginative, engaging campaigns.

2.  Ensure targeting is accurate: Make the most of location based geo-targeting and user data.

3.  Exploit influencer and content marketing: Use the reach of mobile in conjunction with social programmes to amplify distribution of branded content.

4.  Use video content: Video is highly attractive to mobile audiences and searches for video content are growing faster than text and static images.

05  Adopt programmatic scale and delivery to improve audience targeting: Cross-device targeting can help to put mobile at the centre of the customer journey.

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