American Marketer


Why luxury brands skip the call to action in mobile banner ads

March 26, 2013

Shuli Lowy is director of marketing at Ping Mobile


By Shuli Lowy

“If you think a weakness can be turned into a strength, I hate to tell you this, but that's another weakness.” -- Jack Handy

As mobile marketers we know the strengths and weaknesses of our products. One challenge we are faced with when placing ads is that they are often encountered when people are busy or on the go.

Truth is, most people would prefer no ads obstructing their screen. So how do we make our ads effective and get consumers to take action?

One solution that marketers focus on is including a “call to action.” This extra push usually includes an inviting finger within an ad in the form of a promotion, announcement and sale.

However, what we are noticing is that many luxury brands are choosing to skip the call to action.

Instead of featuring a banner with an inviting slogan, brands are choosing to place plain ads that feature nothing more than the brand name: “Chanel,” “Ralph Lauren,” “Gucci,” and so on. Many mobile marketers are quick to criticize and demand “Where is the call to action?!”

I would like to explain why these brands are most likely employing this approach.

1. Luxury brands do not want the deal hunters
Luxury brands are not looking to be contacted by deal-hunters or people interested in free stuff. They know that featuring a discount or a promotion will get more people to click through—but those are not the customers they seek.

People who do click on the ad will do so with no ulterior motives. They are the consumers who are genuinely interested in the brand for its sense in fashion, quality and class. Bull’s-eye.

2. Shift the focus to the non-clickers
While many companies running banner ad campaigns are focused on direct leads and immediate sales closed, more established luxury brands sometimes choose to focus on the long-term branding value of the campaign.

What these brands realize is that while mobile campaigns have a higher click-through rate than online ads, the majority of mobile banner ad campaigns still hover around a 1 percent click-through rate. That means that about 99 percent of the people seeing the ad will not click on it. Let us take a moment to focus on that massive group.

Nobody will say that the effort expended on the “non-clickers” is lost.

Fact is that the person still saw the brand’s name/image. It is comparable to passing by a large billboard except that it is more powerful since it is on a personal device and the user’s attention is already focused on that device.

For the “non-clickers,” the plain, simple, bold display of the brand’s name will leave a more indelible impression than a banner that squeezes in a call to action as well.

Hence, some brands find that keeping a mobile banner ad plain and simple contributes more to their ultimate long-term branding—even if it does not aggressively drive the consumer to click on the ad and shop right then.

Now this does not mean that nobody should place calls to action on their banners.

Calls to action are wonderful catalysts to drive up the click through rates on ads. Those rates are the primary measuring stick used to see when and where a banner is getting traction.

Additionally, only established brands that are very prominently known can even consider placing nothing other than their name on an ad.

AS MOBILE marketers and luxury marketers we must think out of the box and question every assumption heretofore made.

A low click-through rate does not mean a campaign has not performed well. A missing call-to-action does not mean that an ad is weak. In fact, in a slightly different light, some campaigns might strive for those very goals.

Great advertising was never created by staying within a box.

We are living in an ever-changing market in which we are constantly handed tools of unknown power. Let us strive to break out of the shell and figure out how to use them best.

Shuli Lowy is marketing director at Ping Mobile, Beverly Hills, CA. Reach her at