Let’s be honest: when was the last time you deliberately tapped an ad on one of your mobile devices? I’m going to take a gamble and guess probably never.
When it comes to mobile banner ads, the crux of the matter is that they simply don’t work.
Mobile ads have been getting a bad rap for several years now, due in part to their lack of sophistication, as well as their in-your-face appearance. Users don’t like them, they never purposely tap on them, and more often than not, they consider them to be a complete nuisance for disrupting their browsing experience. That’s why brands are increasingly turning to in-app mobile native ads, which have proven to be an effective solution to help boost ad performance and provide a less disruptive experience for mobile users.
Mobile banner ads famously generate unreliable clicks, and for the most part, they’re pretty ugly. But social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook set out to change this back in 2012. They were the torchbearers in an industry-wide campaign to reimagine mobile ads with their promoted tweets and app install ads—and ever since, a new precedent has been set for the look, style and feel of mobile ads for the rest of the industry.
According to eMarketer, mobile will account for 70% of the programmatic display market by next year, and 33% of those questioned in the same survey considered mobile to be the channel with the most opportunities for programmatic advertising. The reason for this explosive growth can be largely attributed to the widespread adoption of smartphones and the increase in mobile web browsing compared to desktop.
Just look at The New York Times or Buzzfeed—a quick glance at their respective mobile apps will likely reveal several native ads that appear as sponsored posts. And if these big names are getting in on the in-app ad action, the rest of the industry would be wise to follow suit.
And then there’s the data, which is where programmatic mobile ads become really interesting. Geographic and behavioural targeting are just two aspects that make mobile a very personalized experience for users—and an extremely promising option for advertisers.
Here are a handful of other features that, in my opinion, make mobile native ads something that marketers should be taking seriously.
They enhance a user’s experience
Originally designed for desktop, banner ads just don’t transfer well to mobile. On smartphone screens they appear tiny and cramped, and the text is often too small to read. Add to this the fact that mobile banner ads simply pop up somewhere within an app with no regard for its surrounding messages and content, it isn’t difficult to see how the inherently disruptive nature of desktop banner ads are no less intrusive when translated to mobile.
Mobile native ads sit on the opposite end of the spectrum. They match the content that surrounds them in terms of look, style and feel, and they don’t try to demand a user’s attention in the same way that banners ads do. What’s more, when they’re done well, mobile native ads can complement and positively contribute to the pages they appear upon by enhancing user experience and providing value for customers.
They offer better flexibility in terms of style and appearance
Banner ads are bought in a fixed, rectangular configuration, and their placement is equally as inflexible. In the same way that users have developed banner blindness to ads at the top or bottom of a page on desktop, mobile users are suffering from the same problem. There’s really only one solution to this: in-app native ads. Mobile native ads offer advertisers plenty of flexibility to play around with the appearance and positioning of an ad. They’re often given more space to play with, which means the potential for imaginative content becomes much greater.
What’s more is that while they were previously only reserved for social feeds and news apps, in-app native ads are now available to advertisers on a multitude of apps, across a range of devices.
They’re more effective at catching user attention
Click-throughs only tell half of the story when it comes to the visual appeal of a mobile native ad. Why? Because, according to research by Sharethrough and Nielsen, they draw substantially more user attention than banner ads. Studies have shown that users are more engaged by native ads, which makes them more likely to spend more time reading them. In fact, a report by Mobile Marketer shows that native ads that appear in-app and on mobile sites typically see two to five times greater engagement compared to traditional banner ads.
As consumers’ web browsing habits continue to shift to mobile, they’re becoming more averse to ads that don’t fit into their user experience—and savvy marketers are taking note.
The future is mobile native ads, but content is still key. In order to succeed, brands need to promote value-adding advertising messages that enhance a user’s experience and not detract from it.