Double Standards - Is advertising on mobile social media effective?

campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 12 July 2012 08:00AM

Consumers may still be wary of advertising on their mobiles, but the channel offers great creative opportunities and better targeting if used well, two experts suggest.

Caroline Clancy: digital strategy director, Vizeum UK

Caroline Clancy: digital strategy director, Vizeum UK

CAROLINE CLANCY - digital strategy director, Vizeum UK

- What are the major challenges of using mobile social networks as an advertising platform?

If we look specifically at Twitter and Facebook, the opportunity to deliver mobile only ads hasn't been there until very recently. Social networks were not designed for advertising, which is why there has been such a delay in bringing anything mobile to the table that differentiates them from their desktop offering. For example, Twitter describes itself as platform-agnostic and the ad options reflect this, with the exception of the ability to target devices. The opportunity is there, but the onus sits firmly with the networks to develop solutions that make the most of mobile.

- Consumers regard their mobile phones as private, personal devices. How much of a worry is this when it comes to pushing advertising in social network mobile apps?

The targeting options at the moment are based around relevance and interest, but relevance alone is not an antidote for intrusion. We must be inherently useful or entertain, we need to listen and review, and we need to build our business around our consumers' behaviour while still innovating. If we build campaigns with mobile woven into the experience, then we can ensure these things happen. People are using mobile to access social properties, so we should be looking to tap into this behaviour, driving customers through to optimised pages as well as our social spaces. We have seen brands such as Nordstrom in the US doing this well and growing its social collateral as a result.

- What have social networks done to improve the attractiveness of their mobile ad platforms to advertisers?

The size of the ads, which take up roughly a third of the screen, and the fact that they are fairly indistinguishable as ads, means that interaction rates are comparatively high. Fan acquisition on mobile compared with desktop is stacking up. However, other engagement measurements, such as comments, are not and the same story continues on the other networks. Additionally, low levels of competition in the marketplace means that advertisers are benefiting from the auction models.

- What do social networks' mobile ad platforms offer advertisers that their desktop equivalent doesn't?

Audience behaviour offers huge creative potential and it is a really exciting environment. With 60 per cent of Tweets in the evening based on TV shows, it also enables us to develop second-screen experiences, and although this covers desktop, the large majority of results came through tablets and phones.

- How is mobile data shaping the future of mobile advertising, particularly on social networks?

Data is at the core of our social and mobile planning - who's doing what and where informs the decisions we make and the value comes from the relationships we build. Consumers' expectations are high and, with the right targeting, mobile media has the potential to be transformative for our clients.

- Which mobile social media advertising platforms offer advertisers the best value and why?

The value comes from looking at the social ecosystem and not just at individual networks. For example, when we look to distribute content through mobile and social channels, we can't ignore Google's claim that 700 Tweets a minute contain a YouTube link. But without more targeting, it will be another six months before we will start to see the value of mobile advertising as a standalone proposition and not just an alternative platform for the same solutions.

SAM FENTON-ELSTONE - head of media, iCrossing UK

- What are the major challenges of using mobile social networks as an advertising platform?

The failure to attract revenue comes down to two factors: the responsiveness of consumers and the ability to convert advertising into sales and revenue. The responsiveness of consumers to ads on mobile social networks is considerably less than their desktop counterparts. This is in part due to the intrusiveness of ads that can appear quite large relative to the smallness of the screen. Rather than complementing content or activity, it can damage the mobile user experience. Many brands also still don't have mobile-optimised sites or aren't set up to transact on mobile devices, making actual conversion difficult.

- Consumers regard their mobile phones as private, personal devices. How much of a worry is this when it comes to pushing advertising in social network mobile apps?

First, I would question whether a social profile is actually a personal domain. By its nature, content on social networks is designed to be consumed by other people and shared, so, in this respect, it's a very public space and I think most consumers realise this. However, mobiles are very different, these are very personal devices. Therefore, brands need to strike a careful balance between being perceived to be monitoring people versus actually providing useful information. One thing in brands' favour, though, is that mobile users are accustomed to constant stimulation. People are actively hunting for things to do and, in fact, don't mind something interrupting them - when it's relevant, of course.

- What have social networks done to improve the attractiveness of their mobile ad platforms to advertisers?

The roll-out of the Facebook Exchange and the incorporation of mobile inventory into the DoubleClick Ad Exchange make buying mobile media easier. Also, hyper-local formats (eg. "check-ins", Sponsored Stories) have improved their attractiveness to businesses with a local presence. In addition, there are an increasing number of private companies, such as LocalResponse, using publicly available social media data - that is local and displays real-time intent - to help companies buy media and retarget consumers via mobile display ads.

- What do social networks' mobile ad platforms offer advertisers that their desktop equivalent doesn't?

From a display perspective, social networks' mobile ad platforms offer advertisers immediate intent and localised data. What is really exciting is its ability to provide the online-offline bridge, using localised mobile messaging to drive people in-store.

- How is mobile data shaping the future of mobile advertising, particularly on social networks?

Using technology, such as near field communication, there's the potential to start linking in-store payment to your online social media profile and gaining a far more detailed understanding of consumer behaviour. For example, using an Android phone in conjunction with Google Wallet, brands can in theory track consumers across multiple devices and begin to retarget consumers online according to their offline behaviour.

- Which mobile social media advertising platforms offer advertisers the best value and why?

In my opinion, YouTube and Twitter. You can buy inventory relatively cheaply and there are great video formats available. As mobile networks become more robust, people are going to consume greater quantities of content; via YouTube, brands can offer rich engagement while consumers are on the move. Twitter offers great value as well - it is real time and local. Consumers use the channel to demonstrate purchasing intent which, when used to buy media, can be extremely powerful.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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