Originally published on Business Insider.
"Creativity without strategy is called art. Creativity with strategy is called Advertising", said Professor Jef Richards.
No one could possibly agree more than today's retail marketer. The dawn of the digital age has brought with it a vast array of ad format options - enough to throw any marketer's mind into a tizzy.
As Indian consumers continue to spend nearly three hours on mobile each day, every retail marketer worth her salt possibly spends most of her week strategizing, planning, and optimizing media spend across digital channels, especially mobile. I've often witnessed the first resort of the direct marketer - multiple mobile campaigns with the same creative assets, all to determine the answer to one simple question - which advertising formats work best on mobile?
So how can retail marketers effectively navigate the plethora of options and allocate media spend in synergy with their goals? Let's start by busting the only too pervasive myth that the "best" ad format exists. Every mobile format can be used for a specific marketing goal, and deliver results with the right targeting, spend, and optimization.
But marketers beware - one size doesn't necessarily fit all. Some formats are better suited towards achieving certain marketing goals as compared to others. Matching the format to the goal is step one, and blitzkrieg-ing ad formats with the same creative is not going to get you optimal results.
Tell your brand's story
At its core, marketing is skilful and impactful storytelling. With the right creative edge, a video can narrate a brand's story in a beautiful, immersive way through the most visually intuitive medium there is. Video has the added advantage of being able to tell your customer's story instead of your own, which can easily rake up credibility points.
Brands need not resort to a standalone video campaign though. Marketing ninjas can deliver a real masterstroke by making sure that the mobile video campaign nicely complements the TVC, and driving cross-channel synergies.
If you're worried about your customer missing the punch-line in your latest video, choose the right video ad format. Many reward-based video formats are now yours for the taking, especially in gaming apps. Customers opt-in to watch a video, without the option to skip it, in exchange for in-game rewards. With the power of mobile video, your customers will be left mesmerised by the story of your brand.
Engage in more ways than one
In this age of digital shopping , the excitement of finding a coupon that offers promises of hefty discounts still drives customers to shop more. Rich media can bring that exciting experience of discovering a coupon to the customer even on mobile.
Consumer engagement today rests on one simple philosophy - learning by doing. By bringing soporific still images to life, a marketer can harness the real power of mobile to drive fun actions with advertising. Wipe-able ad formats can bring digital shopping coupons to life. These ad formats can let users scratch at their mobile screens to reveal discounts, or shake ads to unveil the latest collections on your mobile store.
Mobile devices are packed with sensors that rich media can rely on to deliver a great ad experience. Present shoppers with the option to take a selfie and then view themselves wearing the latest sunglasses, or play a game to unlock amazing deals! Shopping is an exciting, thrilling activity for many folks - and marketers can help retain its appeal both offline and on mobile with such ad formats.
Rich media ads go far beyond just 'gamification' - it takes the customer into an exciting shopping world. There is no other channel that lets your user shake, scratch and blow on the screen to discover new products and offers. If done right, rich media ads could result in users spending a significant amount of time interacting with your ad unit. We have seen users spending over 1 minute on some 'blockbuster ads'.
Sometimes immersive, sometimes not
Simon Sinek once said, "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it". There are a multitude of shopping apps available today. Rather than showcasing what your app does, a truly beautiful mobile full-screen interstitial ad can capture how and why your app does things differently, giving customers an immersive view of the benefits of your app.
However, not all shopping ads need to be immersive. Campaigns that rely on short, catchy punch-lines can sink their teeth into native advertising. Mobile native ads can bring succinct, sweet, and compelling punchlines to life with non-intrusive ads that mimic content. If you want shoppers to download your app because your short proposition is powerful content, Native would be the way to go.
Digital shelves for retailers
As shopping and holiday seasons draw near and retailers want to push for sales, ad formats need revamping once more. Carousel ads are a unique way to showcase your products in a nifty way. Customers can scroll through products curated from your entire offering, tailored to the person's interests. Carousel ads can effectively expose your catalogue to millions of shoppers and nudge them to download your mobile app or visit your mobile website and buy right away. Retailers can pique the shopping impulse of every gadget guru with exclusive seasonal picks, or must-have devices.
Carousel ads can also serve as the storefronts that you need to drive sales on mobile. On an average, just about 2% of every merchant's catalogue is exposed to users. As a result, millions of valuable products are left hiding in virtual shelves which users have no access to. Retailers can enable shoppers to access products beyond page 1 of their properties, all with carousels.
Bring the 'creative' back into creative marketing
Great mobile advertising is, no doubt, powered by impactful creatives and choosing the right one can go a long way. The best mobile advertising dances between information and entertainment; between taking permission and being incidental. Creativity should not just be matched by strategy, but powered by it. Once that happens, retail marketers will find that mobile shopping stops being confusing, and starts being child's play.