As a platform for creativity, mobile has had to wait patiently for network speeds to increase and high-end handsets to reach penetration levels where rich media ad formats can be supported by the majority of devices.
The question of whether mobile advertising has finally reached the tipping point is supported by the recent figures from the IAB, highlighting that mobile advertising spend in the UK has more than doubled in the last twelve months to £203m, as brands and advertisers ramp up investment.
So where are we at? In terms of creativity mobile has come a long way. Using HTML5 Canvas, developers can now create the kind of rich media overlays and two dimensional animations that we’ve been seeing with PC internet advertising for years, enabling agencies to deliver connected campaigns across both platforms.
The long awaited rollout of 4G networks in the UK will serve as a further boost to mobile creativity, providing greater bandwidth over a wider area and more generous data tariffs that will virtually eliminate the need to watch your consumption.
This additional network capacity will help to further unlock the creative potential of mobile, enabling developers to create engaging rich media ad units featuring data-heavy components such as music and video.
Introducing sound and video to any mobile ad campaign instantly makes it a more engaging and immersive experience.
While the use of sound and video isn’t new, the fact that it can deplete a user's data allowance without consent has led to complaints in the US from people worried about their bills.
Apple’s response was to put a blanket ban in place, effectively barring any mobile site or app from accessing the ‘auto play’ function from within HTML5 and stipulating that all sounds must be user initiated.
This heavy handed approach is stunting the creative potential of mobile, by stopping developers from building mobile web experiences which automatically play sound or video.
This ban even extends to the automatic initiation of sounds that are native to the handset, like the alert tones and ringtones, which do not use any data and thus do not cost the user any money.
With mobile finally getting its ducks in a row and beginning to deliver on its huge potential, it seems incredibly short sighted that Apple should put such draconian measures in place which are having a direct impact on how we develop our rich media ad campaigns.
It’s an extremely exciting time in mobile advertising right now, with big brands ready to invest and experiment with the creative potential of mobile and how it can now form part of a connected cross-platform campaign.
Apple needs to wake up and understand the requirements of developers and make plans to ease the ban, so that when 4G arrives brands and mobile agencies are ready to hit the ground running and take full advantage of the creative potential that mobile now represents.
Apple. It’s over to you.