Peter Veash, managing director, The Bio Agency
Peter Veash, managing director, The Bio Agency
A view from Peter Veash

Think BR: Advertising by format - the missing cog

The rise of mobile and tablets mean brands are having to think harder than ever about what they put where and why, writes Peter Veash, managing director, The Bio Agency

Any marketing strategy that doesn’t take mobile into account these days has already failed. 

Mobile is the future and will remain so for a long time. However, this isn’t the only new format to emerge as a valuable communication platform; we now have tablets to contend with too.

Technology has increased the pace and diversity in the way brands reach consumers, and marketers are being forced to get increasingly creative by ensuring they have a strategy for reaching each of these channels in an appropriate way that maximises their individual benefits.

There is no longer a one size fits all approach. Advertising needs to be tailored to each specific format used by a brand.

The increasing level at which consumers access the internet via mobile devices means that it is now essential for brands and their various products to not only develop ads specifically to be displayed on a mobile screen, but also to build their own individual apps.

In a saturated market, this is a fantastic way of cutting through the digital clutter, broadening market reach and driving up the number of mobile users.

Unlike traditional channels, mobile offers brands an opportunity to connect with consumers on a 24/7 basis at a level controlled entirely by the individual consumer.

Brands such as Lego, which currently has two apps in the UK top 30 app chart, are clearly benefiting from the format. It has blurred the line between marketing and paid-for content by extending its products to the app platform and incorporating lots of branding.  

The same premise applies to the tablet platform. In fact, tablet owners are likely to be more digital savvy than most and therefore the most responsive to digital marketing activity.

A recent study by Research Centre and The Economist Group revealed that 77% of tablet owners use their devices daily at an average of 90 minutes per day.

Smartphone use has risen sharply to the point of near necessity amongst the UK market, whereas tablets remain a more niche market.

Brands need to find a way of adding to a user's platform experience and not simply bombard them with messaging.

To achieve this you need to create something that captures people’s imagination and complements the format.

Mobile users, for example, are unlikely to want lengthy text or an intricate interface, whereas this would not be such a problem on a tablet.

Examples such as Robb Report magazine’s digital edition last year, which included only interactive ads, benefiting brands such as Audi and Aston Martin, demonstrate the advantages perfectly.

Every page of the app features a call to action that goes on to reveal more images, videos or links to a branded ecommerce page.

The auto brands gain from added awareness and the consumers benefit from added content. When questioned after this first edition of its kind went live, approximately 75% of readers liked the interactivity of both the editorial and the ads.

In terms of traditional display ads, it is no longer sufficient to simply replicate the same banner-style strategy designed for a laptop or desktop computer.

The traditional format does not invite engagement, unlike the tablet format, which relies on interaction and rich, colourful creative.

The unique qualities of the iPad, Android tablet or any other device of this kind revolves around visuals and touch.

The possibility of incorporating videos, animations, audio, hotspots and augmented reality all add an instant level of interactivity which allows for more user-driven advertising.

This range of opportunity is clearly having some impact on consumers; a recent study by Rhythm New Media has found that full-page display ads on tablets reach an impressive 21% engagement rate compared with 9.4% for the same ad units on smartphones.

Apps are opening the door to exciting new marketing platforms for brands. There is no standard format to follow, fewer creative restrictions, they offer heightened personalisation opportunities and are highly accessible.

Advertisers are able to run rich, colourful brand ads in a way far more effective than they ever could on a PC as people are more willing to interact with them. However, this freedom and choice also brings with it a whole unique set of challenges.

Interactive online marketing is a complex and time-consuming practice that requires a highly skilled team behind it.

Brands are going to need to get a lot more creative and consider a lot more carefully about what they put where and more importantly, how.

Peter Veash, managing director, The Bio Agency