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Mobile First Creative Best Practices

Posted on July 15, 2016
By Tanvi Kapoor, Director - Product MarketingDirector - Product Marketing

The mobile device is an indispensable screen in a consumer’s life. Its ubiquitous presence in almost every waking moment of our day has made us enthralled fans of this small powerhouse of information, entertainment and utility. Users reportedly spend approximately 240 minutes on their mobile device every day for a variety of purposes. It is no surprise then that mobile has become a core component of every media planners strategy. The virtues of the mobile device have been extolled endlessly - but the bottom line is that it allows marketers to push their brand messages in front of engaged users, at the right time and in the right context.

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While mobile advertising has become an integral part of media plans, there is still a dearth of execution excellence when it comes to mobile ads. Most mobile creatives are refitted versions of their desktop siblings and are not optimized to perform on mobile devices. As a mobile first company, InMobi has worked with several categories of advertisers to come up with the following best practices for building creatives that excel in the mobile environment:

  • Video - 2016 is the year of video advertising and marketers are leaving no stone unturned to leverage the different forms of video ads to get their message across. Users love consuming video, more so with the convenience of their mobile devices. While marketers have taken conscious steps to increase their mobile video advertising budgets through both direct and programmatic channels, mobile-first video creatives are not yet the norm.
    • Users love mobile video but hate buffering time. Partnering with companies who understand video encoding, deliver instant play video experiences and optimize the quality of the video based on the bandwidth of the data connection is important for delivering a good user experience.
    • While mobile video ads are more widely seen than other video ads, marketers need to be cognizant of the fact that they may be seen in silent mode. Building short engaging stories which are effective without sound is a new skill that creative agencies need to acquire. Long form video ads are clearly not optimal for the mobile environment.
    • Mobile video is also evolving as more marketers start to understand the nuances of mobile usage. 360-degree video, vertical video and native video are advanced formats and are built to be mobile-first in terms of their fitment with mobile usage patterns. Video end cards help increase engagement by 2X and can be used effectively to improve direct response metrics.
  • Location - User consent based location information can be secured from apps and mobile websites which share location information and is pivotal in tracing the persona of a user in the real world. The location gives insights into the behavioral patterns of the users and allows marketers to build creatives extremely personalized for the user.
    • Location elements can be incorporated with localized weather feeds to customize the creative based on the local conditions of the user - for example - an advertisement for cold coffee for users on high-temperature days vs hot coffee for users on low temperature/rainy days
    • Location can also be used to drive footfalls and purchases by giving the user directions to the nearest retail outlet/event location of the advertiser based on the user’s current location
    • The user’s location can be used to customize the messaging in the ad - for example, a targeted message to visit the retail store on the second floor of a mall when the user is known to be inside the mall building, vs a generic message about the ongoing sale at all of the retail outlets. Similarly, tourism bodies can advertise targeted places of interest close to the tourist’s current location.
  • Rich Media - In the race and chase for user attention, ad fatigue is the lock, innovation is the key, and rich media is the key maker. Rich media ads allow brand advertisers to break through the clutter and engage the user with interactive creatives. Whether it is gamified ads, ads with parallax effects, or simple interaction based message reveals, rich media ads constitute 80 percent of in-app brand display advertising.
    • Rich media ads are heavily dependent on the publisher’s capability to render the elements. Creative authoring platforms like Celtra, InMobi Studio, Bonzai, etc. are used to build the rich media creatives. It is important to ensure the creative authoring platforms have been certified to run on the different inventory sources to ensure the ad is rendered without glitches.
    • Rich media ads tend to be built on Flash or HTML5. By creating digital content in HTML5, marketers can ensure that their ads will be seen as intended in all environments. Google’s announcement that it will pause all Flash content on Chrome provides yet another reason why advertisers should use HTML5.
    • Building responsive ads which automatically adjust to the different device sizes available in the market today is critical for flawless execution. Targeting the ad creative appropriately based on the device features supported is also important for maximizing ROI from the ad spend.
  • Native Ads - The mobile environment is teeming with feeds - news feeds, social feeds, product feeds, etc. The most popular non-gaming apps are adopting the feed layout to impart information to the user in the right amounts. This proliferation of feed environments has given rise to the popularity of native advertising, which walks a fine line between blending in and standing out. With so much time being spent in the feed environment, investing in native ads is a foregone conclusion. While a lot of native ad inventory exists outside of the walled gardens, marketers are yet to focus their budgets on these non-ONO (owned and operated) native ad apps.
    • As more and more of the mobile advertising dollars move to the programmatic channels, there is a dearth of partners who support the native ad spec. Identifying and integrating with DSPs who are built to IAB’s OpenRTB Native Ad Spec 2.3 is the first step to accessing a large amount of native ad inventory available in the marketplace.
    • Native ads, by virtue of their nature, are not standardized and built to support various sizes as per the publisher’s layout. Advertisers and agencies need to customize their image creatives beyond the standard facebook size of 1200x627 and leverage as many sizes as possible to achieve scale.
    • Unlike other ad formats, native ads are a unique combination of creative and copy. Writing compelling copy which intrigues and engages the user in 100 characters or less is an art. Teams focused on advertorials should be leveraged to build native ads that entice the user to take the desired action.
  • Reporting and Attribution - Advertising without attribution is like intentionally throwing half the money down the drain. Despite the importance of reporting and attributing it to the right source, understanding of this space is still murky. Mobile attribution is also rapidly evolving as the various ecosystem players catch up to the different milestones in the ad delivery process.
    • With the popularity of the feed layout and pervasiveness of fraud, measurement of viewable impressions as opposed to served or rendered impressions has become a hot topic. Partnering with an independent player that helps differentiate between in-view impressions and out of view impressions is helpful in avoiding wastage of impressions.
    • There are multiple attribution models used today which rely on last touch attribution. However, as advertisers partner with multiple ad networks and DSPs to get their message across, view through attribution has become a popular model to give credit where it is due. Analysing “influenced” engagement helps identify the network partners which are delivering better ROI.
    • Mobile web attribution is still a fuzzy area. Reconciling mobile web cookies with Device IDs is a difficult business, especially without the aid of trackers. Implementing tracking pixels on the landing page helps evaluate the bounce rate and correctly measure post-click engagement.


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