New York-based chief revenue officer (CRO) at Vibrant Media, Sheila Buckley, gives her views on how mobile can achieve a ‘total brand recall’. The CRO also discusses research from a company study, in partnership with the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), comScore and cookie manufacturer OREO…


It’s only reasonable that when a marketer pays for an ad to be placed, they expect that people that viewed the ad will remember the brand being advertised and the message being carried. The reality for most ad formats, whether print, broadcast or online, is that the most fundamental purpose of advertising – encouraging consumers to remember the brand, product and message – falls short of impressing those core communications objectives upon 100% of consumers.

Online advertising in particular already has a major problem in this regard. ComScore reported in June 2013 that 54% of online ads are never even seen by users. The ads are technically served as ‘impressions’ on a computer, but are not viewable by consumers for a variety of reasons, but most often because the ads are served below the fold, so never come into view on the consumer’s screen. This means many marketers paying on a cost per thousand impression basis are effectively throwing away over half their budget. The nature of the smaller screen for mobile marketers is likely to wildly exacerbate this problem. Marketers must make it an objective that every impression they purchase should make a true impression upon a consumer that positively affects their memory.  

Uplifts in User Interaction

The more seasoned – dare I say cynical – digital marketer, may think achieving total brand recall from digital ads is an impossibility. Good old marketing management theory will insist that objectives are ‘realistic’, after all.

However, a research project Vibrant Media undertook with the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), comScore and cookie manufacturer OREO, has shown that brands can be just 2% away from achieving total brand recall using the IAB’s Mobile Rising Star formats. The study compared the same advertising creative from OREO, displayed in both traditional banner and the six new Mobile Rising Stars formats.

The results show that nearly every user (98.1%) who interacted with these ad units recalled the name of the brand advertised. Since the research project used the same OREO creative in all formats, undoubtedly the level of brand recall is in large part due to the interactivity that the formats offer. The research shows a 79% uplift in user interaction rate with the new formats compared to banners and users prove to be 26% faster to interact with the ads, delivering increased and more immediate access to consumers for brands.

The results form a compelling argument of the need for brands to adopt more ad experiences that deliver interactivity and creativity at scale to connect brands and consumers in engaging ways, as opposed to standard, non-optimized mobile experiences that consumers have come to expect from mobile advertising.

Positive User Perceptions of Mobile Advertising

Some might be satisfied with 98.1% brand recall, but if there is a potential that total brand recall is within the grasp of ad technology, it makes sense to shoot for it. That may require some added features that give ad experiences something special. It was notable in the IAB/Vibrant Media research that interacting with IAB Mobile Rising Star Ads significantly increases positive user perceptions of mobile advertising.

In response to the ads presented in the research, and compared to standard mobile banner ads, IAB Mobile Rising Star formats aroused a 43% higher user agreement with the statement ‘the ads are attention grabbing’; a 38% higher user agreement with the statement that the ads were ‘enjoyable/fun’; and a 22% higher user agreement with the statement that the ads presented were ‘better than other mobile ads’. Such statistics affirm Vibrant’s mobile format strategy in building its IAB Mobile Rising Stars formats, Brand Flex for smartphones and Mosaic for tablets: delivering ad formats that involve consumers in an enjoyable, immersive brand experience has an impact on their recall and perception of the brand advertiser.

Care must be taken to maximize the level of consumers’ enjoyment of mobile brand experiences. Interrupting consumers’ content consumption can irritate. No matter how entertaining the ad creative, if it’s launched in a manner and at a time that does not fit with each user’s preferences, the likelihood that it will serve to irritate is high, especially if the ads launch without the user’s permission. It’s much better to communicate with consumers when they are at their most receptive. Vibrant’s method of achieving this receptivity is based on three main pillars, each having effect before the consumer even launches Vibrant’s Mobile Rising Star formats.

Three Main Pillars

The first is contextual relevance. All of Vibrant Media’s mobile ads are served within mobile content to maximize ad viewability, but more importantly, the brands advertised have relevance to the editorial the consumer is browsing on their mobile device, whether smartphone or tablet. By having an association between the ad and the editorial, Vibrant’s Mosaic and Brand Flex units deliver an ad experience that is relevant to consumers’ interests; so the likelihood of irritating them is lower than if an irrelevant ad was served.

The second is Vibrant’s new transparency mechanic – the brand activated keyword. This function clearly informs consumers that an ad is available within the mobile content the consumer is browsing and the specific brand that is advertising.

Finally, the ad only launches when the consumer chooses, by a tap of the brand activated keyword. Hence by informing consumers about the ad, and only launching on user action, consumers’ resistance to Mosaic and Brand Flex ads is further reduced. As users demonstrate active intent to experience the ads, they are in a frame of mind that’s more open to the ad, making them much more likely to enjoy the brand experience they have launched.

Nimble and Native Placements

Of course, ensuring consumers are in the right frame of mind is the first step. Then it’s important for IAB Mobile Rising Stars formats to deliver an entertaining experience. Admittedly the primary creative of ad campaigns will always be a determinative factor in the level of entertainment achievable via every advert, no matter what channel it’s served through. However, Vibrant’s Mosaic and Brand Flex formats aggregate brands’ ad creative with other content, whether from brands’ existing social media feeds or tailored content. Not only does this encourage brands to make use of existing creative which they’ve spent time and money developing, the variety of content available in the unit means that consumers have the choice of interacting with the format of branded mobile content that’s most likely to be entertaining to them, whether images, video, games or social media feeds.

The results of the IAB/Vibrant Media research has added another challenge to the industry – to achieve 100% brand recall, so every ad served impresses upon the memory of every consumer. It’s certainly an aim Vibrant Media will be striving to achieve. The challenge complements Vibrant’s drive to achieve 100% viewable mobile ads, by focusing on nimble and native placements within mobile content. Achieving both will bring brands one step closer to perfectly performing mobile ad campaigns.