I’m a few days into a trip back home to the UK. I’ve seen lots of old friends and family, and spent evenings drinking a few pints of ale in the ever-average British weather.
When I talked to people about what industry I’m in – mobile advertising – the vast majority of the time I was met with an overwhelming “YOU ANNOY ME.” It’s like I’ve walked into a room, slapped everyone in the face and whined in an incessant high pitch. So I sit wondering, why do so many people think this way? What has our industry not got right? And what can we do about it?
There’s a common theme here, across my friends, and I’m sure a lot of other people. The mobile advertising ecosystem is simply not delivering enjoyable experiences through that small life device we carry so close to us. We are clearly not delivering enough value to each and every person with a mobile phone. It’s a big problem to solve, and it leaves room for a big opportunity.
A paradigm shift in media consumption
I had my first smartphone as a present from my old boss Eric Schmidt (ok a very distant boss) when I worked at Google over four years ago. A clunky brick with a flip screen, the Google G1 was a pretty ugly piece of kit.
But little did I know that this device, which could have quite easily been a television remote, would overwhelmingly change the way I interact with media. As my devices changed over the years, became sexier and more powerful – I spent more and more time with them. A love affair began that culminates today in my spending far more time with this device than anything, or anyone, else.
What does that mean for the advertiser that wants to catch my eye? I’ve gone from leaning back and letting others control what media I consume through passive channels like television, to leaning forward in complete control of every teeny bit of media that passes that four-inch screen in my pocket. Where previously I was absorbing media, now I’ve shifted dramatically to demanding media.
Now I am the one in control I’m no longer content with media that doesn’t interest me, I’ve become a whole lot more impatient. This paradigm shift in my behavior creates a huge new challenge for advertisers: how to get my attention without being an interruption to my constant thirst for media consumption? As Andrew Shebbeare, Founding Partner & Chief Strategist at Essence, states: “Being interesting, useful and relevant is essential.”
Making mobile experiences more enjoyable
Now what does being interesting, useful and relevant translate to? As a consumer, each of those aspects amounts to an enjoyable experience: one that I find valuable, that fundamentally makes me happy. What we as an industry need to concentrate is on delivering enjoyable ad experiences to the world. Let’s start with that.
Associate an ad with something enjoyable and as humans we will reflect positively on that ad. Go the opposite direction and interrupt me – and I sure won’t continue buying your product, or using your app. Yes, a lot of advances in technology need to be made – but let’s strive to deliver that enjoyable experience to each person; and build from there.
If we do that, some time in the near future, when I tell someone that I work in mobile advertising, they may well turn around and say “I saw this really cool ad the other day”…and that will make me smile, a little.