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2015, in many ways, was a year in which digital advertising failed the consumer, and many of these fed-up users finally took a stand with ad-blocking. From irrelevant ads to intrusive ad formats, it’s never been more clear that the industry could be doing so much better. This year, it’s way past time for brands and agencies to start putting consumers’ needs and their state of mind first when delivering mobile advertising. In the fast-paced digital era, consumers put a high premium on their time and attention, and expect to have control over their interactions with brands, on their terms, especially on their most personal device – mobile. The advertising world needs to recognize that, and there needs to be a user-first paradigm shift in mobile advertising that looks something like this:
1. Adopt a user-first approach.
There’s a reason the industry finally started catching on to mobile moments last year: consumers will not engage with your ad if it’s disruptive and doesn’t intuitively flow with their experience. Therefore, advertisers need to use the data available to them – without being invasive – to determine when the optimal moments are during an in-app user journey to approach user with a contextualized brand message that makes sense and increases receptivity.
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2. Don’t hijack the steering wheel (or the screen).
Though there are a few exceptions, most advertisers still approach users like it’s 2003. Laughably poor digital ad formats that have been around for decades, such as banner ads, pre-roll and other inescapable interstitials, simply do not belong on mobile. They only annoy users, and are a disservice to your brand and messaging. As more and more users spend time in unique app environments like messaging services, health trackers, photo editors, and more, it’s time for brands to start thinking creatively about the delivery of the ads they place in these mediums. Ads can’t hijack the experience; they have to be part of the experience, and make sense to the user.
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3. Let users choose the route.
In order for advertising to be radically non-invasive, it’s time for brands to embrace the idea of letting consumers choose how and when to engage with their message. It may be a hard pill to swallow, but if you want to increase brand favorability and recall,then stay out of the consumer’s way, and give them the power to choose to engage with you – opt in to the experience – then they’re much more likely to form a positive relationship with the brand. Think of your advertising as outreach, offering interaction without forcing it.
4. Offer value.
If you’ve gotten this far in your ad strategy, you’ve done your homework. You’ve contextualized your approach to your user’s digital environment and what they’re experiencing at the time. Using that information, understanding their needs and state of mind, you – as a brand – can ensure your message and your approach align with it and offer a value proposition to the user. There’s no better way to gain their attention and their affection by making them feel like their attention is worth something, and that they get something out of it in return.
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The truth is, these ideas individually aren’t new, but all of them being implemented together in mobile advertising is critical. Unfortunately brands and agencies taking the “easy approach” and are falling into the same traps of old tactics gone sour – losing money on metrics that don’t prove any actual engagements, and losing credibility among consumers. But, by adapting this mobile-first, user-first mentality, your campaigns will have more impact and turn around better results – thus turning users into brand evangelists vs. brand blockers.