Deliver Mobile Creative That Doesn’t Suck

Mobile ad spend has long since surpassed display. But what about the creative?

From my perspective, creative on mobile hasn’t been a priority. As an industry, we need to write a new creative playbook for mobile lest we waste the opportunity. Here are five things to keep in mind when considering how to make an impact on mobile.

Build exclusively for mobile devices

Mobile phones have the power to decode the human genome, but mobile ads often seem stuck in the 90s. This is because 85% of mobile videos were created for larger, panoramic TV screens. Ads created for TV can work on mobile, but the question then becomes how can we make them work harder?

The solution isn’t 2-second ads. It’s changing our awareness of where the user is and the quality of their attention in each context. Consumers now watch TV series while using their phones as a second screen, read or listen to more books than ever before and listen to daily podcasts.

Sound off is the new norm

Nearly 85% of video content in social feeds is seen without sound. Not to mention, most browsers have blocked videos that play sound automatically.

Teads has been investigating the performance of sound-on vs sound-off mobile ads for the past two years. In a study conducted with RealEyes, we worked to understand how ads with the sound off perform versus ads with the sound on. To measure emotional engagement and branding impacts, we tested the sound on and off versions of more than 240 ads. In the end, we found that ads with the sound off performed just as well as ones with the sound on.

Younger audiences in particular react strongly to content that was created for a sound-off environment. And audiences in general are getting used to and even prefer consuming mobile content without sound. The explanation is simple—many environments in which people are consuming content just aren’t conducive to sound-on ads.

Creatives must heed this trend and tweak the content to make it work. In another example from the same study, we found that subtitles don’t work. Captions that just capture the main idea are much more effective as they allow the audience to watch and read the content at the same time.

Engage your audience in impactful and disruptive ways

The brands considered the most impactful are also the bravest.

Take, for example, Burger King. Its CMO Fernando Machado is the man behind the industry-disrupting Google Home Super Bowl ad and one of the most brilliant mobile-centric stunts in history—the campaign that rewarded customers with a 1¢ Whopper if they were within 600 feet of a McDonalds. The brand and Machado are not afraid to make a big splash and bet big on pure creativity.

Leverage data to deliver personalized ads

The beauty of data is that it allows you to make campaigns more targeted and ultimately drive greater KPIs. This will only improve over time as automation in personalization opens the door to self-optimization. In turn this will to lead to machine learning that’s capable of analyzing thousands of context combinations, audience clusters and relevant signals to take action on the best creative available.

But when it comes to delivering exponential outcomes for your brand, I don’t think personalization is key. It’s more about creativity and having the gumption to deliver relevant and insightful campaigns that will make a business impact.

Acknowledging who and where the user is and optimizing for personalized factors will be integral to the future. Say for instance a telecom client is pushing a campaign about a new plan with special conditions to upgrade your cell phone. Wouldn’t it make sense to deliver a special smartphone upgrade promotion customized to the user’s particular make or model? The same would apply to an automotive brand that promotes a new family SUV to an audience who show signs their family is expanding. This is the kind of personalized ad targeting (and creative thinking) that is growing in importance.

The new creative playbook

In working closely with the most relevant brands, media and creative agencies worldwide, we at Teads have come to believe that the advertising industry is shifting to a better, more holistic approach to marketing that simultaneously leverages science and art equally. In the last couple of years, the industry has been challenged to find a more efficient model while making sure mobile ads are optimized for how users engage with content on the small screen.

As creatives, we pour our time, budget, blood, sweat and tears into our work to drive successful campaigns. On the other hand, brands tend to focus on scale before thinking outside the box for every format a piece of creative might run on. Mobile is not an afterthought—it is becoming the campaign in itself. If consumers are now spending more time on mobile than anywhere else, and digital is becoming the number one media platform in the U.S. in terms of investment it is time to take a truly mobile-centric approach.