The mobile advertising market has come a long way, since the first mass-adopted smartphone, the first iPhone, came on the market in 2007. 

As an industry, we’ve now spent almost a decade working out the best ways to deliver advertising to mobile users. Starting from the archaic days of untargeted banner ads, we’ve grown sophisticated, having up-levelled creatives and invented new technologies like programmatic advertising and dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) to make mobile ads targeted and engaging. Indeed, as an industry, we have made lots of strides since those early days, yet we are again at a turning point where we need to take stock and ensure that we don’t fall prey to new mistakes — specifically, the trap of relying on untargeted mass native advertising. 

As the mobile advertising market matures, the mobile user experience is entering a new era, one where engaging user experiences can and should be individually-tailored. Because it is now possible to leverage user behavioural and location data to deliver targeted ads on mobile, there’s simply no excuse for irrelevant ads. Surprisingly, even today not all advertisers operate this way. Many continue to deliver ads without deliberately considering how to make those ads truly engaging through personalisation. Those who eschew personalisation do so at their own peril; simply flooding apps with native ads that are not curated for each individual user will not yield rewards and users seek out means to block advertisers who adopt this unconsidered approach.

Resonance with users

The key to driving mobile engagement is effected by delivering advertising creatives in a personalised fashion. Programmatic advertising allows us to reach the right person at the right moment, with the right message. Therefore, mobile data should be leveraged beyond simply determining audience segments but to pinpoint hyper personalised situations  to deliver specific, tailored messages to each mobile user. That’s what will make the advertising engaging and resonant with users, as opposed to being viewed as a bother.

The advertisers who fail to personalise risk alienating users who are increasingly skeptical about mobile advertising and now turn to ad blockers when the mobile advertising experience becomes intrusive, rather than useful. Advertisers must not forget that the mobile medium is the most intimate arena that exists today for interacting with their intended consumers. An irrelevant mobile ad is enough reason for the user to shut out a brand on their smartphones. With the tools available to advertisers today, they need to invest in the right technology and engage with the right partners to drive personalisation. 

How to do it

The creative formats used to deliver branded messages are equally important to engage with today’s users. The reality is that users need to be entertained and enticed. They already expect to receive tailored ads on their mobiles, but that in itself is no guarantee that they will engage. Designing advertisements that load and display fully without being overly intrusive on a mobile screen can make a big difference in resonating well with mobile users. Next, to maximise the creative assets, dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) technology can leverage data to ensure delivery of the best format with the highest chance of engagement for each individual user. Properly executed DCO technology can deliver receptive and personalised brand messaging to a user overtime and keep up with the user’s changing preferences.

In addition to creating a better user experience, personalisation can help advertisers understand their audiences better by measuring the outcome of their campaigns. Delivering personalised mobile ad campaigns is a form of data-driven marketing that not only ensures smarter, more tailored ad delivery to the user, but also allows the advertiser to make sustainable investments in mobile campaigns by providing insight into what resonates well with consumers. In this way, ramping up personalisation efforts can help drive substantial return on an advertiser’s mobile ad spending and inform future campaigns. Insight is power when it comes to the mobile advertising industry; by taking the time and effort to better target our consumers, advertisers ultimately stand to benefit on multiple fronts.

If we do not consider these issues carefully and take a user-centric focus, mobile ads could become one of the biggest irritants of the 21st century and consumers will never forgive us for it. By alienating our users, not only will our campaigns fail, but as an industry, we’ll have failed. We owe mobile users a better experience so let’s be thoughtful about providing one. Only then will our industry survive and flourish.