After the Click

There’s a lot of discussion there days about how mobile advertising will differ from what’s come before. Much of this comes from people I have huge respect for as thinkers and visionaries, so I have to take it seriously.

The theory that they propose is that when a new medium emerges, the format of the advertising changes. So, while the first TV commercials were little more that an announcer being filmed reading a radio script, this quickly changed to the 30 second slot that we know and love today – for those of us still watching realtime TV anyway.

So, as mobile advertising starts off, it’s natural that it’s essentially the same as PC web advertising (ie text banners and graphical banners). But as the medium achieves critical mass, new formats will emerge.

As an example of this type of thinking, this new format might be the idle screen, perhaps. This is being pioneered by Celltick (and others), where advertising is displayed on the mobile screen when it’s not being used. This would be unique to mobile, as there’s little point in using the technique on a PC or TV, as it’s only idle when no one is using/watching it. Not so, with mobile.

I’m sure that idle screen will be one of a plethora of formats that will work in mobile, but I’m also pretty sure that it won’t be the only format. And indeed, focusing on the format of the ad itself, actually may well be the wrong thing to focus on altogether for this medium. I think that there’s a strong argument to say that we should actually be looking at what happens after the ad for the real difference in the mobile channel.

In the mobile channel, the ad itself is really just the means of attracting the consumer’s attention in the first place. What we’re trying to do is to start an interaction or perhaps a conversation. It seems to me that the format of the ad itself isn’t very important actually.

But what happens after the click is where we should be focusing our attention as marketers. After all, if you succeed in attracting attention, but then fail to engage the consumer, you have failed. This applies as much to mobile content as blue chip brands, although there’s still plenty of people who would argue that “branding” campaigns have a value, where just showing a logo and and a clever strapline has some kind of relevance in today’s marketing armoury.

We’ve already seen a significant evolution in “after the click” in mobile advertising. Initially, most advertisers just sent respondents straight to the home page of their websites. But the smart ones quickly realised that every ad needed a bespoke landing page that directly related to the content of the ad. At AdMob, we encouraged this by making available a free landing page tool, so that advertisers would build on these lessons and drive better success.

The next stage I think we’ll see is when advertisers begin to get more adventurous with post-click formats. As examples, we have Click to Call, Click to Video, Click to Enter Personal Information, Click to Download and Click to Find Nearest.

None of these formats is unique to mobile – they can also be done via a PC – but it’s much more relevant to do click to call or find the nearest in a mobile context.

As for the future, new ad formats, that attract attention in the first place, may well emerge. But I think the real innovation will take place after the click. And at the very least, that’s where a lot of our attention should be focused.

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