With the Apple App Store adding close to 20,000 new apps every month and Google Play matching or even topping these numbers, it is becoming exponentially harder for app developers to cut through the noise. Beyond getting an app in front of the right users, it’s difficult to monetize in an era of free and freemium apps, and a lot of traditional mobile advertising inventory is intrusive and disruptive of the user’s in-app experience.
Mobile ad spend might be rising in response to this challenge, but considering that up to 50 percent of the impressions served on a static mobile banner ad are from accidental clicks or “fat finger” taps, ad solutions aren’t necessarily keeping up. The mobile advertising industry is in desperate need of more sophisticated solutions if they are to continue generating revenue, creating new products and keeping their users happy.
Before banner blindness can become any more prevalent than it already is, it’s time we move beyond a one-dimensional approach to mobile advertising and start looking at the quality of our ad solutions as opposed to their quantity.
Going Native (how)
Arguably the best place to start is with ad inventory. Today’s global citizens are bombarded by advertisements everywhere they turn, so it’s critical that ads be as appealing, attractive and relevant as possible. We can no longer rely on putting a simple banner in front of someone and hoping for the best, even if costs for this kind of ad unit are relatively low. If an app shows banners which garner a high number of impressions, they may be able to generate revenue, but it will come at the cost of lower eCPMs and at the expense of the user experience and interface. At mobileCore for example, we don’t offer banner ads at all, opting instead to give our clients a range of sophisticated solutions that are aesthetically appealing and consistent with the look and feel of their apps. While native ads are steadily permeating the ad tech market, this process needs to be accelerated until intrusive, incongruous ads are a thing of the past.
Scalability (how much)
In order to get to such a point, however, we need to come up with scalable, native solutions. While some have said that native ads are, by definition, unscalable, Facebook have managed to scale their native ad business to $1B in the first year, and Yahoo has said it will phase out all banner ads from its mobile advertising. While native ads may indeed be more difficult to produce in digital advertising, on mobile the creative resources necessary are much lower, making a fully native ad campaign a much more realistic possibility.
From our own experience at mobileCore, while fully custom-branded native ads are still slightly more time-consuming to produce, we have made sure that every developer can select form a wide range of attractive and non-aggressive native ad units in the Stickeez gallery, or even incorporate their own in-app characters. The same way as developers would spend time designing apps with a beautiful and engaging UX, we believe that they should have maximum design flexibility in the ad process as well.
Finally, effective targeting is crucial if any ad unit is to have the best chance of success. There are so many factors that can vastly increase the likelihood of an ad successfully impacting a user. From the type of device they have to the apps they have downloaded indicating their potential preferences, these factors help to effectively bring users the right ads.
Advertising does not have to be about hitting the largest number of people possible and hoping a few wins will trickle in. Advertising is most relevant to users when it targets the right people with the right products. When developers work with partners capable of providing targeted, relevant advertising, the results can be impressive, and ads become brand-reinforcing assets instead of a nuisance to be avoided.