„Perfect” (mobile) impression

Gábor Brindza

Managing Director

I’ve been thinking about whether there’s such a thing or not for a while now, but this article really pushed me to find out for myself: is there a perfect impression on mobile and if so, what it would be, what would it depend on, how would it look like, etc.

Let’s look at all the factors influencing the appearance of an mobile advert:

Product: many times, even the advertiser forgets about the product that they’d like to sell or advertise, sometimes they even think of them as something that’s given, that they cannot change. Obviously, there are some differences between a personal loan and a new pair of Nikes. And it’s not a coincidence that I’ve written Nike shoes. This is how we get to brands: it’s clearly not the same to advertise a well-known, even loved brand compared to an unknown, disliked brand. Thus, if we are talking about the perfect impression and we can make a wish, why wouldn’t we want to sell through this perfect impression a highly liked brand’s new product.

Advertising environment: not an easy topic either. Why is the environment we advertise on considered good or bad? If we’d like to start at the basics, we have to talk about the brand, attractiveness and looks of the content. It’s an exaggerating example yet again, but there is a huge difference between BBC News and hotglobalnews.com: not just in looks but also in how visitors judge advertisements. But let’s not leave the site itself just yet. It’s important that enough people visit the page daily, and not just on desktop but also on mobile. The placement should be there, where it works best (yes, that’s it, I’m going to talk about in detail at ‘Placement’ section), we need some data about the visitors in a research software, this way we know before we place the advert whether we can reach our target group or not. Don’t take it for granted but a well-built content probably makes the “advertising experience” much better.

Banner: this is where we are probably the most lagged behind. And the worst thing is that not only on mobile but also generally on digital platforms. We could talk about this for hours why things go wrong, but there won’t be time to fix them on desktop first. Let alone flash is becoming obsolete, and basically now every flash designer has to (/should) become an HTML5 developer. Not many people mention it but it’s extremely hard to find a good HTML5 programmer, and it’s probably the same in Western Europe and the US. It’s not an easy job and someone who’s great in it, won’t “waste” their time on creating adverts rather build more complicated websites. The good thing is, that regardless of the negative stuff mentioned above, HTML5 is available (at least at Madhouse) and could be made quite easily, since amazing animations can be created with templates.  Another important thing about banners is their size. We should choose from the recommended options. I choose 300x250px because it’s big enough. No one talks about aesthetics regarding advertisements – except for us. We only serve perfectly sharp mobile ads which starts at doubling the resolutions (because of retina and HD displays), so the actual size we’ll be 600x500px. All in all the perfect impression is created with HTML5 and there’s only a little motion in it, just to make it stand out.

I pasted my favorite short video here which demonstrates the perfect animation, but there is one little flaw though: we are not able to reach this quality under 4MB. At least not at the moment.

Ad server: at this point, the reader might think that we went completely crazy: why is the system serving the ad relevant to our perfect advert? The adserver is the most important part of the media planning – if something is wrong here, there won’t be any advertisement. Let me compare it to football: the ad server is the goalkeeper. He’s not going to win the game but when he’s weak, the team looses. The same applies to ad servers and even to monitoring the campaign. First, it’s not easy to serve HTML5 ads, and after it’s launched, we should always check if everything’s fine. For this, one device is usually not enough: it might appear perfectly good on iOS but something’s wrong on Android, and vice versa. We have approximately 15 smartphones, and there are still some cases when the appearance is not perfect. We have a whole folder dedicated to screenshots about bad appearances. Probably no one checked whether they are good or not. And when talking about ad servers, it’s important to note that not every one is capable of serving high resolution ads (600x500px) since it has to be compressed. In this case, the advert will swerve or the page will fall apart. And what happens to our mobile strategy if we slip on a banana peel? We are working together with Adverticum and thankfully everything is fine there. Targeting is also an important question: if we would like to reach high profile people, we can set that the advert should only appear on the best and newest mobile devices.

Placement: aka where the ad appears. I already mentioned it in the 2nd How shall we determine where placement should be? This is always the question. Based on previous experience, we should not let the designer decide this (like in old times), rather compare statistics of the adverts appearing on the site. Click through rate could be perfect for this. (But not confuse this with the success of the campaign: CTR is not enough to define that.) It quickly turns out – after looking at ca. 10 campaigns – which size works best where. The top of the iceberg is when we are able to measure viewability as well, i.e. for how long do users see the ad. It’s not a surprise that there is a direct connection between viewabilty and CTR. Based on this, I can purchase the placement in the article pages to place my perfect 300x250px (which is 600×500 in reality, as I mentioned above) because that’s usually the best place on mobile sites.

Viewability: I’ve been thinking about it a lot, whether viewability should get its own paragraph or not. Right now, this is probably the most exciting topic, since we can roughly estimate whether our ad is seen or not. According to the IAB standards, users have to see at least 50% of the advert for 1 second to call it viewed. In case of mobile campaigns, the term is the same but since then some interesting questions have been raised. This topic is really interesting because we can exactly know things we didn’t before. Previously, we were arguing about which placement is the best without any real statistics, now we know for sure. It’s not very professional that we accepted something as good without fact or data. Now there is, yet everyone is still waiting to use it, or they are afraid of this whole new idea and approach or there is no expert at the company who could analyze the data, or more importantly they are afraid to initiate the change. Because it’s pretty clear that pages need to be restructured but when we look at the advertisers’/agencies’ perspective, media plans are going to be very different being aware of the viewability data. I’m sure we are going to write about this more in the future. We partnered with Moat (one of the largest company in the US and UK dealing with viewability) to measure everything that could be measured.

Data: a perfect advert is based on data. I would not like to go into detail since the Hungarian market is so far behind on using this “tool”. We would even be happy to have data about demographics let alone status, behavior and purchasing habits, which would help to target people with specific products just for them.

Programmatic mobile: so actually, why is this here? For me, this summarises or rather solves what in the past decade many people tried to solve manually. Humans do make mistakes (very often, sadly), therefore loads of campaigns were running not how, when and where they were supposed to do – yeah, of course it was the weekend, someone was on holiday, etc. Here, the inventory is infinite – on mobile as well –and what we would pray for 10 years ago is now an easy task: to appear on any renowned international site targeting Hungarian visitors. There are many other interesting facts regarding programmatic mobile but I’d not go into any more detail, I just maneuver my “dream cruise ship” towards the front page of the New York Times or the BBC because a few years ago it was almost impossible to appear on webpages like that. And now the whole world is basically a click away.

In summary, there are a lot of factors that determine what we could call a perfect impression but I think we should let go of this “perfect” concept and just accept that good enough usually makes campaigns quite successful.

February 6, 2016
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