Without In-the-Moment Relevance and Personalization, the Future of Mobile as an Ad Medium is Dead

Without In-the-Moment Relevance and Personalization, the Future of Mobile as an Ad Medium is Dead

What’s worse than a square peg in a round hole?  How about trying to shove a peg 8 times the right size into the same space!  And yet when thinking of mobile advertising, this is exactly what we are trying to do.

Let’s all agree on one thing: mobile is the media device of choice for most of us.  It’s where we get our news, our weather, our stock updates, and our work communications.  It’s also the place where we communicate with our family, view our personal photos, and stay in touch with friends.  As a result, this device is always with us, so there is a level of intimacy that is sacred.  If an advertiser wants to really reach me, they better start and end on my mobile device.  And yet when I see advertising on my device (and that’s rare), what I generally get are irrelevant and intrusive messages that frankly leave me with a negative impression of the brand.

Mobile devices’ limited real estate and customer “micro-moment” engagements currently render it ineffective, if not damaging, as a mass advertising medium.  As mobile users, we interact on our devices often, but the sessions are short, even on high-engagement properties.  We typically are in-and-out and anything that disrupts those engagements is an intrusion.  According to ClickZ, Amazon’s average visit duration on mobile is 4.3 minutes versus 8.35 on desktop.  On Google it’s 6.14 minutes on mobile versus 20.55 minutes on desktop.

Unlike desktop, customers use online mobile more on impulse or when they’ve raised their hand with an immediate need – when they want to know something, go somewhere, or want or need to buy something right away.  So brands have to anticipate what those wants may be, even before mobile customers have identified them, and deliver ads so relevant at the point-of-impression that they, in effect, serve as intimate information sharing, versus the aforementioned annoying intrusion.

So how do brands do this effectively on mobile?  By leveraging lifestyle context, of course.

As an example, a friend of mine who’s a city dweller, avid fine diner, and wine connoisseur frequently attends wine tasting happy hours and wine festivals (sometimes I think too frequently).  Yet he typically only gets generic mobile ads for things like car insurance (he doesn’t own a car) and fast food (which he hates).  Recently, he and I went to a ball game together and as we were leaving the stadium at around 6pm he got an ad from a nearby upscale restaurant brand letting him know of their expanded fine wine collection with an invitation to stop in for a free tasting.  Ten minutes later, we were in the place enjoying a nice glass of wine.

A coincidence?  Of course not!  The brand had leveraged the power of knowing where its customers go and what they’re passionate about and had parlayed that knowledge to create a “micro-moment” for my friend and revenue for itself.