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Agencies and Cannes Judges Say Less Is More for Mobile

IAB study on creativity offers best practices

Photo: Getty Images

Marketers need to clearly brand their mobile ads with a logo, while utilizing pithy copy that offers something valuable in exchange for their engagement, says a report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Millward Brown set for release today. 

For the creative-minded study titled Mobile Manifesto, the IAB and the researcher conducted 15 in-depth interviews with Cannes judges and ad agencies, including Chiat Day, Draft FCB, JWT, R/GA and Digitas. They suggested that some proven tactics for display advertising, social media and email, such as "be concise," also work for mobile—though there are distinctions when it comes to this emerging space.

For instance, mobile ad copy should only encompass 50 percent of the frame, per the report, while the promos should avoid complex viewing experiences that may take a toll on consumers' smartphone battery and data availability, as well as their time. The report advises brands limit their ad to a pair of phrases—the offer and tagline, in most cases.

"The most important takeaway is that creativity matters in mobile advertising more than ever," Ali Rana, Millward Brown's svp and head of its Emerging Media Lab, told Adweek.

When asked for a good comparison in terms of where the status of mobile marketing evolution stands compared to other emerging digital disciplines of the last 20 years, Rana chose online display, circa 2000 to 2004. "Our normative data shows that mobile display outperforms online display from that time period," he said. "However, mobile impact is on the decline. One of the ways to proactively improve the user experience is to focus on creative quality in mobile. Hence, it's the most important thing to focus on."

Here are five findings and suggestions from Mobile Manifesto:

  • the best mobile ads increase brand awareness by 20 percent, lift brand favorability by 14 percent and push purchase intent by 14 percent;
  • results jump when mobile ads offer coupons, games and premium content;
  • brands should place their logo in the corner of the mobile ad frame;
  • use at least one bright color, but no more than two in the ad;
  • highlight calls to action with a bright color.

Lastly, below are a handful of intriguing unattributed agency quotes and other excerpts from the IAB/Millward Brown study.

  • People's engagement with [mobile] banner ads is so low, you need to do everything you can to tell them what the brand is.
  • If you put a logo on every page, your possibility of being recalled increases.
  • If the campaign needs to create awareness, then we will try to make the brand very obvious. My variation is—it depends on what the brand is. We don't always have the logo throughout if people know who the brand is. If you're Coke, everybody instantly recognizes it, the logo can be the content.
  • Often companies/agencies have guidelines that they use for offline ads (TV, newspaper, online display) and they just adapt those to the mobile space. You can’t just take a logo and JPEG and size it down, which is what all agencies have done in a pinch. There has to be some logic and legibility when it comes to those.
  • Good design trumps copy length. Plenty of times I've read a five-page article on my mobile device. I can read a book on my phone If I can swipe through it.
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