25 May 2012
As mobile application usage continues to grow, marketers are pouring more money into in-app advertising. However, while in-app ads can provide some important benefits to brands, they may not be the best option in all cases.
Consumers love apps and are spending more time with them all the time as they migrate many everyday activities to mobile, such as reading email, going onto social networks and consuming content. With many of the most popular apps reporting high engagement levels, this presents a unique opportunity for marketers to reach consumers in mobile.
“The usage in apps is virtually infinite,” said Xavier Facon, chief technology officer at Crisp Media, New York. “You have such a high level of engagement with apps plus good positioning and good recall.
“You can create some really compelling ads in apps,” he said. “Apps are a great ecosystem for advertising.”
While brands do not typically think in terms of apps vs. mobile Web but in terms of where their audience is, many are gravitating towards in-app advertising because of the growing use and some unique attributes it provides. Additionally, more in-app inventory is coming online all the time.
In general, in-app advertising strengths include being able to tell a brand story and driving app downloads.
Where in-app ads may be lacking is in generating leads and driving users to stores.
“In-app ads are great for brand recall and telling a brand story,” Mr. Facon said. “In-app works well for telling a full story on a full page with rich media.”
One of the key benefits to in-app ads is that they allow display ads to stay visible on the screen while the user scrolls. There are also unique placements such as a pre-app interstitial position as well as the ability to create engaging rich media experiences.
While display performance and pricing is nearly identical for mobile Web and in-app, in-app ads can also offer ways to better target ads.
“Mobile apps are a cultural phenomenon to nearly every demographic, and are able to provide highly valuable first-party data, such as location, to enable brands to target the right audience at the right time at the right place,” said Victor Milligan, chief marketing officer at Nexage, Waltham, MA. “Brands that are able to take advantage of real-time discovery and targeting can truly capitalize.”
However, it is important that marketers keep relevancy in mind when creating in-app ads since they are interrupting the app experience and do not want turn off users.
For example, users in the People magazine app who are served ads for a men’s health product or a sneaker ad might find such ads intrusive.
“When you are asking someone to step out of the existing app, you have to make sure it is spot on relevant,” said Dan Israel, Atlanta-based strategy lead for mobile practice at SapientNitro.
“What I often see is that it is not exactly pertinent to what they are doing at the time,” he said.
Touch, pinch, zoom
In-app ads can offer a way to deliver highly engaging ad experiences by leveraging a device’s functionality.
Good in-app advertising takes advantage of the unique attributes of the channel and device by using location for targeting or message selection, or touch, pinch, zoom interactions for navigation and exploration.
“The big benefit that in-app brings is seamless access to device functionality, and this enhanced functionality can create deeper engagement when deployed well,” said Michael Collins, CEO ofJoule, New York. “This deeper engagement, of course, improves performance.”
Because the frequency is less with an in-app ad, marketers may want to increase reach by leveraging the user’s social network using a viral component.
These can be some of the most effective in-app ads, per SapientNitro’s Mr. Israel.
It may make sense in some cases for an advertiser to consider an in-app product placement as opposed to an ad.
“Are you better off showing a character imbibing your beverage or placing an ad?,” Mr. Israel said. “How are you better able to connect with the consumer without upsetting them by taking them out of the experience.
“A placement may be a more effective use of your money.”
In-app ads present some challenges for marketers, including a lack of rich media inventory. Additionally, targeting capabilities are not always fully available from ad networks, per Mr. Xavier
“Almost 100 percent of mobile Web smartphone and tablet content is inherently capable of rich media because HTML5 supports rich media,” Crisp Media’s Mr. Facon said. “The reach of that kind of high quality inventory is percentage wise far, far lower in apps.”