American Marketer


Mobile advertising goes interactive

December 23, 2014

Ashley Eckel Ashley Eckel


By Ashley Eckel

As consumers we do not always realize that our addiction to multiple devices is quickly altering long-established approaches to advertising, media planning and success measurement.

As marketers, however, we experience the consumption of different content on different devices in terms of what it means for reaching customers on these screens. In particular, we are realizing more that our advertising creative needs to mimic the functionality and user expectations of the device at hand.

Mobile is leading the trend toward advertising that allows users to interact with it in much the same ways that they are interacting with the other content on their devices: by touching, swiping and clicking. This behavior is simply expected.

Similarly, advertising on desktops should take advantage of familiar behavior such as clicking and scrolling. All of this is resulting in what we have all seen coming for years: the end of one-size-fits-all banners and the beginning of specialized, interactive, multiscreen campaigns.

While there are myriad new digital advertising techniques ripe for analysis, the advances with interactive video are probably the best examples of how real estate once reserved for both static and interactive ads is making way for advertising that caters to mobile-driven consumer behavior, while offering media-rich, engaging angles to grab attention.

Tap, swipe, pinch and click are now part of a new generation’s DNA, even when it comes to advertising.

Users expect to consume all types of content – news, audio, video and games – on their mobile devices, but of those, mobile video may be the fastest-growing vertical.

Last year TechCrunch reported that 40 percent of all YouTube traffic comes from mobile, which adds up to roughly one billion mobile video views per day on that platform alone, according to YouTube’s own usage stats.

Combined with the fact that interactive video elicits 96 percent greater engagement than other types of content, it is clear that today’s mobile users are increasingly willing to engage with content that invites them to take part in the brand narrative.

As mobile video and, more specifically, mobile video advertising, continues to add new features such as social media integrations, gaming, maps and geo-targeted personalization, users are receiving more relevant content from advertisers than ever before.

Consuming content is no longer a passive experience and advertisers must learn that their ads must keep up with these trends, while allowing audiences to swipe or tap their way to increased engagement.

Mobile advertising shows the highest potential for capturing audiences through interactivity.

One of the key benefits to marketers of the trend towards mobile is the fact that audience interaction and engagement is far easier to track than it used to be. And the fact is that a majority of the data shows audiences are more willing to spend time engaging with and clicking through on ads on their mobile devices and tablets than they are on other media.

Last year Mobile Marketer reported that click-through rates on mobile video had tripled year-over-year and mobile interaction rates nearly doubled to almost 23 percent.

Mobile devices are what a Marshall McLuhan acolyte would call a “Hot Medium” since they are a natural extension of our physical senses.

Our phones monopolize our attention by fully engaging our visual, auditory and tactile senses meaning the user is almost completely immersed by the device, and we know that an attentive user is more likely to engage with the content placed in front of them than a distracted one.

For this reason we are seeing interactive video advertising, and digital ads in general, obtaining more success on mobile because people are simply paying more attention.

Passive advertising is best for passive devices. Interactive advertising is best for interactive devices.

A novelist would not publish a novel on Twitter, and a marketer should would never use a television ad on Instagram. This seems obvious, but understanding that content must conform to the medium, is an important lesson for advertisers—and the data backs it up.

All the research shows that device- and medium-optimized ads perform better on every key metric because viewers have a different emotional and situational context during each experience.

For example, recent research from Sony Crackle, an online content provider, shows that 96 percent of viewers watched an ad to completion through Internet-connected TV such as Roku, or Apple TV while the same could be said for only 76 percent of mobile viewers.

By contrast, smartphone users spent an average of 98 seconds interacting with ads, whereas connected TV viewers spent an average of only 68 seconds, or nearly one third less time. These numbers tell us that when users are in front of a TV they want to watch passively but when they are on a phone or tablet they want to act so the content should cater to those tendencies.

NECESSITY MAY BE the mother of invention, but invention inevitably leads to changes in behavior.

Catering to this behavior is not just providing a good user experience but can be the difference between a successful campaign and an unsuccessful one for advertisers.

Remember, the content should change with the context and in the words of Marshall McLuhan, “The medium is the message.”

Ashley Eckel is director of product marketing at Innovid, New York. Reach her at