John Tigg, general manager EMEA, Videology
John Tigg, general manager EMEA, Videology
A view from John Tigg

Think BR: There's nothing special about mobile

It's a sign of mobile's immaturity that it still wants to be special, writes John Tigg, general manager EMEA, Videology.

It’s five years since the mobile landscape changed dramatically. The launch of the iPhone created a revolution and changed the way we use our phones forever.

The problem is that mobile advertising hasn’t changed at all. It’s the same people peddling the same complex and tired display solutions that they were five years ago.

The result is that we are still waiting for mobile advertising to join the revolution.

This is despite the fact that more and more of our media consumption happens via mobile devices. Nearly half of all internet users now consume media via mobile, according to the Office for National Statistics, and nearly half of all Brits have a smartphone.

In Videology’s area of focus, mobile video viewing is growing dramatically. We are currently serving around 5% of our impressions to mobile viewers, that’s a monthly audience of more than five million consumers, skewed towards highly desirable younger and more affluent demographics.

So why hasn’t mobile advertising grown at the same pace as the medium? There are three reasons: first an uninspiring ad network offer, second the complexity that mobile loves to wrap itself up in and finally marketer confidence and comfort with the medium.

Frankly, changing the first two will go a long way to solving the latter challenge.

The first issue is that while the technology in our phones has moved on remarkably, the ad packages being offered by publishers and networks have not.

Many are still trying to sell clicks and downloads at ever-decreasing CPMs without reference to targeting intelligence and insight. The ultimate loser in this scenario is the advertiser, who doesn’t benefit from the long-term thinking and strategy that is the norm in other media.

The alternative is something complex like 3D HTML5, all singing, all dancing (sometimes literally) executions. Such special ad formats are all very nice if you are looking for a 'media first' but most advertisers simply want concise, original and cost-effective formats that drive measurable results.

The second change that’s needed is for mobile to stop thinking of itself as something unique, different or, worst of all, specialist. This desire to be considered special is a significant barrier to advertisers investing money. Just calling it 'mobile' adds a barrier, the legacy of years of being seen as the next big thing never to happen.

While there is a balance to be struck between generalists and specialists in all areas of media, the predominance of specialists in mobile is like a red rag that screams ‘complexity’ and ‘difficulty’.

It’s a sign of the industry’s immaturity that it still wants to be special. All the evidence shows that users do not differentiate between screens. They are just consuming content be it via their mobile, tablet, PC or TV. To your average consumer an ad is an ad, they don’t give it a pre-fix like ‘mobile’.

Changing these two factors will go a long way to making marketers more confident about investing in mobile. Their key test is not how complex mobile is, but its ability to effectively drive measures such as brand awareness, purchase intent and, of course, sales.

The dominance of Apple and Android has radically simplified the mobile environment and made the medium much easier to harness. But we need to revamp the advertising offer and show how it works alongside other platforms.

If mobile is to secure the big brand advertising budgets it craves, it needs to become part of the team rather than the sole domain of so-called specialists.

The truth is that mobile devices are becoming an increasingly important part of the consumer’s media diet. The usage statistics are going to tell an incredibly powerful story that marketers will need to pay attention to.

The big brand budgets will come - but it will be faster if we can revamp the advertising offer and reduce the need to call a specialist.

John Tigg, general manager EMEA, Videology