Awesome things come in small packages: why we should get excited about mobile advertising

Posted on 11/12/2012


If the web has taught us one thing, it’s that life is pointless without other people to enjoy it with. Through social networks, friends & strangers have made the Internet a more colourful place, and online strategies that ignore this are no strategies at all. For mobile advertising to take off, it needs new forms and new ideas that tap into devices, places AND people.

Everyone loves a brainstorm and I’m no exception, so here are some exciting (albeit hypothetical) firestarters for mobile campaigns:

The takeover
This kind of advertising has been done before using flash, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead. The same kind of thing is now possible on mobile web browsers & apps. Think of it as an app within an app: delivering an experience, not just a message. An HTML5 banner should do more than just advertise (e.g. a quiz in a digital edition of a women’s mag. “What type of lover are you?”). Entertain people, don’t just inform them.

Make the most of your contacts
Phones contain masses of contact information. Think of the reach you could have if someone let you plug into this? Give people something uniquely mobile that they’ll want to share with friends: an exclusive voucher for 5 people, an amazing photograph, even a witty limerick in an SMS for them to pass on.

Or think bigger than that: mobile is the one place where multiple social accounts are connected under one contact. How can you create content/ allow others to create content that will ricochet off one network and onto another?

Interacting not interrupting
Advertising has never been more blurred with entertainment and if you entertain, people will seek you out.

What if people actually chose to receiving adverts, because they were fun and interesting? They’ve never been more ways to connect than through a smartphone.

Viral text messaging: Grolsch did something lovely with this, integrating SMS with what you see on their website. My only gripe is it didn’t go further. They built a character, why not continue the story? We could see micro SMS novels appearing which people can follow or even interact with (Japan’s been doing this for years).  Or one of those adventure games like “A Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. You play in a retro way via SMS or via web and picture messaging.

Gaming: quintessentially mobile.
It’s got to be something you can dip in and out of, whether it’s a brain teaser or a 1st person WW2 shooter. Some of the most integrated games are those that augment people’s every day, location-based experiences (e.g. Foursquare, Chromaroma). Play/ entertain along side people without many barriers to entry.

Mobile websites
We’re gradually getting to a stage where mobile sites (bespoke,responsive or mobile-friendly) are standard practice. That’s OK for now but all they do is deliver information. The real value is in socializing/ upgrading this information. More sites that do that would be lovely. Interactivity for the web. Social elements that are manageable on mobiles. It’s possible, we just have to want it.

Also, Windows did something lovely a year or two ago. They replicated the windows mobile experience for Android and iPhone users. They used other people’s phones as weapons against them, showing how smart and slick their UI was. Why not use mobile for similar demo’s?

Expandable ads are possible, but this relies on each publisher adopting the same ad formats. A good mobile site, however, avoids this.

Connected screens
There are some lovely examples of screens working together:

Imagine each phone as a way of controlling anything with a battery (a wand?). How can you help or amaze people?

Some fuel for your grey matter – hopefully it’ll get some sparks flying.