The rise of ad blocker software for desktop and mobile is a clear indication of how the average user sees online ads: as a necessary evil to be avoided or bypassed if at all possible. Even in the mobile space, many developers offer “ad-free” versions of games and apps at a premium rate or for in-app purchase. Users tolerate ads, but the conversation around ads has always been about making them palatable, the assumption being that users will never actually like ads, going out of their way to engage with them.
This does not have to be the case. Digital-centric brands have had years now to learn lessons about audience preferences.
Ad formats themselves have grown in variety: ad campaigns don’t rely on traditional homepage banner ads anymore. Between innovative ad formats and a greater understanding of what users want in a mobile experience, brand have a window of opportunity right now to create mobile ad campaigns and ad experiences that users not only tolerate, but actually like, and actively seek out.
Mobile Ad Format: Delivers The Types Of Ads Users Like
Today’s mobile ads are far more diverse than the pop ups and banner ads of earlier years. A number of formats, like native ads and in-app video aim to make the user’s ad experience seamless and in-sync from their app experience. A key part of crafting ad campaigns users like is to rely on ad formats that users like.
The native ad, for instance, acts as an extension of the design and functionality of the app the user is in.
Native ads in social media applications keep users within the app environment while still driving them towards products and promotions. This ensures that the ad experience is seamlessly integrated into the app experience and doesn’t detract from it. In-app video ads adopt a different tack. In-app videos are often presented full screen, layered on top of the mobile app. This can be disruptive, which is why it’s important to incentivize the video ads and make them opt-in.
Many freemium games, for example, offer special rewards for watching opt-in video ads that can only otherwise be purchased through IAPs.
By giving users the choice to opt-in, the experience fundamentally changes: users have an actual incentive to sit through the entirety of the ad, instead of tolerating something that they didn’t give their explicit consent for.
Ad Content: Not Just A Hard Sell
Few people, whether in the real world, or in digital environments, like being at the receiving end of a hard sales pitch.
What does this mean for user-friendly mobile ad campaigns? It’s important to slow down and phase engagement with users through mobile ads.
By utilizing analytics, brands can identify what stage of the sales journey individual users are at. Instead of hard-selling to new customers, brands can present them with ad experiences that offer real value, familiarizing users with the brand and building trust before presenting them with products.
A great example of this outside the mobile ad space are the ubiquitous Thai life insurance ads—these TV ads offer sentimental, feel-good plot lines that users enjoy watching, without hard-selling the life insurance product, but instead focusing on general brand awareness. When it comes to more informed users at later stages in the sales cycle, mobile ads can focus on product-specific promotions.
Coupons and purchase offers can ad value for savvy mobile shoppers who utilize e-coupon apps and websites. Loyalty reward programs in freemium games can offer in-app purchases at discounted rates for long-time users. The key is to tailor ad content to the user and ensure a comfortable, low-pressure Experience.
Platform-Specificity: Remember That You’re On Mobile
Mobile is a fundamentally different paradigm from PC and offline ad experiences. It’s important to always remember that a mobile ad campaign needs to be mobile-first. Mobile users have a fundamentally different user journey– from viewing ads to making a purchase decision-compared to users on desktop or other platforms.
This has an impact on ad content, ad formatting, presentation, and even the timing at which ads are delivered. Take conventional static ad formats like the interstitial or banner ad.
On a desktop web page, large screen sizes mean that it’s not an issue to keep ad content on screen at all times. On mobile, however, screen real estate is far more limited, and hence more valuable. Investing in static banner ads on mobile, for instance, at the bottom edge of the screen is a terrible way of ensuring user-friendliness.
Ads that always stay on screen mobile hinder the user experience, and users might associate that inconvenience with your brand.
Other mobile-centric factors matter as well. On PC and offline, advertisers can afford to present longer video advertisements in the 30 second-plus range. When it comes to in-app videos, however, it’s important to remember that opt-in users, while incentivized, are waiting to get back to their app experience. Mobile in-app videos should be able to deliver value and clear messaging a shorter span of time.
It’s not easy to create a mobile ad campaign that users like, especially when ads are seen by so many as a necessary evil.
However, by understanding user needs and tailoring ads to minimize disruption, it is possible to create mobile ad campaigns that users might actually seek out actively.