What Makes a Mobile Ad Work (Or Fail)?


Budgets for mobile advertising have skyrocketed over the past year, from $1.2 billion in 2009 to around $2.4 billion in 2010. And Bloomberg recently reported that those numbers could multiply tenfold to $24 billion by 2015. Companies like Amazon, eBay, and Best Buy have all created apps for smartphones and other mobile devices, letting retailers inform consumers of promotions or discounts at all times.

But just how effective are mobile ads? A new consumer study, done by marketing firm Group SJR and sponsored by Liz Claiborne Inc., examined how young, tech-savvy shoppers view these ads, and how they’ve influenced holiday shopping in 2010.

According to the study, the biggest trap mobile ads fall into is failing to target specific consumers — a too-general mobile ad is unmemorable. One 25-year-old respondent was quoted as saying that, “when you’re on your phone, you’re so on-the-go that you wouldn’t necessarily take the time to click on a random advertisement.” Here’s a rundown of the study’s further results.

The Biggest Factors That Hurt Mobile Ads:

  • Lack of promotional focus: One respondent noted that if he was searching for a particular retailer, and an ad for a similar retailer popped up with a coupon for a related product, he would be more likely to click on it.
  • Visually unclear: One iPhone 4G user responded, “if [an ad] is off to the corner, I might get it confused with another app and not realize that it was an advertisement.”
  • No incentive to opt-in: By adding a phone-accessible coupon or discount, ads increase the chances that they will be 1) noticed and 2) will be spread from friend to friend: “You want to brag about [the deal],” one respondent noted.

Ways to Make a Mobile Ad Successful:

  • Create something eye-catching: “The bigger the ad, the better,” said one iPhone owner.
  • Target the ad to its ideal consumer: “[Ads] specific to my interests would be more effective,” one respondent said. Many smartphone owners are still open to using mobile commerce and willing to share personal information if it would help create more specific, eye-catching ads in the future.
  • Include a time-sensitive “call to action”: “Only 4 hours left!” or “Going fast!” will encourage shoppers to make a purchase before stock is gone or a sale concludes.

Disclosure: The study was sponsored by Liz Claiborne Inc., which is the financial sponsor of this site.


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