Advertising on mobile: it's all about 'stopping the thumb'

Advertisers are in a dizzying race to connect with customers as new mobile-borne social media platforms emerge and evolve
Advertisers are in a dizzying race to connect with customers as new mobile-borne social media platforms emerge and evolve

Almost 80 years old, the deodorant Old Spice is learning new tricks for finding customers in the era of smartphones and social media.

The Procter & Gamble product, having spoofed itself for years with advice on how to become more "mantastic," posts to its 2.6 million Facebook followers a steady stream of video games, prize entries, and advertisements as short as two seconds.

Creating "thumb-stopping" content is the goal, and marketers are doing everything they can to achieve it. That includes using neuroscience to study which visual and audio cues offer the best bet to grabbing and keeping an impatient smartphone user's attention.

Estimates show that the average person looks at his or her smartphone as much as 150 times a day. The attention is there, but it's just not long-lived.

"You get the three-second audition," said Frank Amorese, media director at Heineken USA. "If you are relying on the 14th or 15th second to do the heavy lifting of the ad, it's not going to work."

Ever-changing mobile landscape

Advertisers are in a dizzying race to connect with customers as new mobile-borne platforms emerge and evolve.

"The landscape changes every six months," Amorese said. "It's changing at an increasingly fast rate."

Digital ad spending is projected to reach $72.1 billion in 2016, growing at a rate of 21 percent and now comprising almost 37 percent of the overall market, according to eMarketer. Social media accounts for $15.4 billion of this.

Heineken has doubled its spending on digital ads to 30 percent over the last five years.

The dominance of smaller mobile devices has heightened the challenge of capturing the attention of potential shoppers.

Ads must be tailored depending on whether they are being seen on a widescreen television, a tablet or a smartphone and must not demand too much time if a consumer is merely glancing at a feed and not planning on a lengthy stay.

"We have to really identify how do consumers engage with every single platform and then what is the creative experience we need to give them," said P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard at the four-day Advertising Week conference in New York this week.

"But it also has to look like one brand because people have 5,000 ads coming at them every day and that's 10 times what it was just 10 years ago."

Measuring 'sharing velocity'

Anna Fieler, chief marketing officer at PopSugar, a women's shopping and content site, said marketers are devising benchmarks like "sharing velocity" to monitor resonance.

"Shareability is the gold standard of how engaged people are," she said. "People like it so much that they want to share it with someone else."

Not all Ads place the brand front and center. Frito-Lay, which spends about 40 percent of its advertising budget on digital media, offers tips on its Facebook feed on professional mentoring and networking, in addition to the usual fare of ads that aim to excite and amuse.

"People are using social media to build their (personal) brand," said Jeff Klein, vice president of brands and portfolio marketing. Sometimes Frito-Lay just "takes a little bit of a back seat."

'Upload videos like crazy'

Much of the buzz at the Advertising Week conference was the wildfire growth of video streaming and broadcast of live events.

Facebook vice president Will Platt-Higgins predicted video could comprise 80 percent of all content by 2020.

"You've got the perfect marriage of basically a supercomputer, which is in your pocket, plus super powerful wifi, plus a video composer and a high-definition camera," he said.

"All of that together creates the perfect storm for all of us to upload videos like crazy and that's what's happening."

The growth of video also opens up new opportunity for rivals like Twitter, which has lagged Facebook in terms of building profits from ads.

Twitter posted 18 percent growth in advertising revenue last quarter spurred by video. It is betting that marketers will see more upside in plans for live events in pro football and other sports.

Video "is the number one ad format for us now and it barely existed a year ago," said Matt Derella, vice president of global revenue and operations at Twitter. "It's risen extremely fast and it's driven by consumer behavior."

© 2016 AFP

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