Winning at Mobile Will Require a Mental Adjustment

Mar 14, 2016

IT’S SETTLED: MOBILE IS THE present and future of digital content. Everyone understands that mobile is where digital users have moved in droves, and that a proliferation of mobile device types – from smartwatches to virtual reality headsets – is creating an ever-richer mobile landscape.

But as obvious as the consumer shift has been, I won’t deny that the transition is a tough one for digital publishers and buyers to make. Just when both had started to settle into their collective understanding of advertising automation and programmatic buying, along came mobile to flip the script once again.

With the advent of mobile, everything from targeting to attribution to creative has changed. And the shift to mobile will only become more fundamental with time. Not only are users who once used a desktop as their primary mode for engaging with digital content transitioning to mobile, an entire generation is coming of age that is utterly mobile-first in their habits. They are the true “mobile natives” and they will continue to immerse themselves in the medium, whether brands and publishers are ready or not.

THIS IS THE YEAR OUR INDUSTRY NEEDS TO NOT ONLY GET READY, BUT ALSO GET SET AND GO.

Not only is figuring out how to market on mobile critical for ensuring that brands can continue to build relationships with consumers, the very viability of digital content across all categories requires our industry to figure out how to be relevant, welcome, and useful in a mobile-first world.

As I’ve spoken with publishers and brands about mobile, I’ve seen even the most enthusiastic get bogged down by old paradigms. Before we can truly embrace this challenge of creating great brand experiences for consumers on mobile, we first need to adjust the habits we’ve developed over the years.

REALIZE THAT MOBILE IS NOT JUST A DEVICE CATEGORY. IT’S ALSO A STATE OF MIND.

Mobile devices fit into many more life scenarios than desktop devices. When considering experiences we should be building for mobile, there are a much broader array of consumer modes we need to account for.

Mobile advertising isn’t just about adjusting to screen size, it’s also about accounting for the user’s environment and probable state of mind, which has consequences for attention span and calls-to-action.

The same device, and even the same physical setting, can offer benefits to consumers who are in different buying stages. A consumer in “find and retrieve” mode in-store presents a markedly different marketing opportunity from one who is in casual browsing mode. With mobile, it’s more important than ever to begin with consumer profiles, needs, and context, and then build creative and campaigns that speak best to them given those factors.

WE SHOULD HANG ONTO SOME LESSONS FROM DESKTOP.

Sure, mobile is cookie-less, and the user data looks different. Calls-to-action need to be reconsidered, and the ad units – at least the ones that matter – differ from the ones brands are used to purchasing on desktop.

That said, with the right technologies in place, the process for identifying key opportunities, selecting metrics, and uploading campaigns can look very similar to the processes we’re used to for desktop. Technologies like Rubicon Project’s Orders platform further facilitate this by displaying mobile buying opportunities side-by-side with desktop-focused opportunities. While opportunity discovery will only be the beginning of buyers’ and sellers’ foray into creating effective mobile campaigns, it is the necessary first step in empowering them to invent the future of mobile together.

MOBILE CREATES NEW OPPORTUNITIES.

It’s time to get excited about mobile, not panic about it. With mobile, advertisers can leverage location-as-context like never before, helping them reach customers at opportune moments that desktop advertising simply can’t touch – as in our in-store example above. With mobile, digital advertising buyers and sellers can also work together to create uniquely useful advertising experiences that help brands build meaningful and enduring relationships with consumers.

Digital advertisers and publishers need to approach the mobile opportunity enthusiastically – the viability of our industry depends on it. The work we’ve put into optimizing and understanding the opportunity on desktop has taught us how to adapt and innovate. That habit will come in handy when paired with an energetic approach to leveraging the mobile opportunity.

Check out the latest issue of the The Programmatic Mind here!