Mobile ads are growing more dynamic by the day, with the biggest platforms, from Google to Snapchat, in a constant state of marketing innovation. For young Snapchat, that means building from scratch. And for Google, that means taking what worked on desktop for so long and transferring it to phones.
All the while, Facebook is coming up with targeted ads that make some marketers wonder why they need to even put their mobile dollars elsewhere. It's true, there are many ad executives and media planners looking for large, known audiences -- they say there's no need to look beyond the social network to reach their campaign goals.
That's actually what puts Snapchat's ad appeal at risk, except for the fact that it's growing like crazy and the audience is maniacally engaged there. Still, what Snapchat delivers in a young, vibrant audience, it lacks in ad technology and measurement.
While Google and Facebook battle it out on the technological front with cross-platform targeting, Snapchat has come up with a television-style commercial for the mobile age.
Here's a look at a few new approaches to advertising, just released today, that show the direction of these three very different mobile platforms:
Google's visual AdWords
AdWords received a dynamic makeover for mobile. Today, Google showed off new ad units that let users flip through car photos or shop for hotel rooms, right atop their search results. The ads look more like a Promoted Post on Facebook than an old-school keyword ad. Google is betting the relevance of search helps brands target a consumer better than social media data does.
It's important to note that mobile search surpassed desktop officially this week. Google also announced new measurement tools that would help advertisers track campaigns from desktop to tablets to phones, and it's finally starting to rethink the last-click attribution model. That's the method that generally credits the last digital search with the sale, when there might have been a bunch of shopping decisions before that. Of course, Google hopes its display network takes credit for all the other ads that influence sales, as well.
Facebook's deep link update
One of the social network's biggest businesses is from app-installs ads. In fact, they're a key part of any mobile ad business—from Twitter to Google—and they rely on data to hyper-target users, the ones most likely to download a particular app. Today, Facebook expanded deep links in its app ads, which represents the next evolution in this type of mobile marketing, directing people to a specific page in a mobile app.
Deep links are a way for apps to lure dormant users back to being active. Now Facebook is enabling deep links in app-install ads to new users, too. So, an app developer can target a promoted post with content from its service, prompting a new user to download the app. And instead of taking the consumer to the homepage upon opening, it takes them right to the content that drew them there in the first place.
Snapchat's sponsored city story
The photo- and video-messaging app has been rethinking how to proceed with brands, and stopped selling the first style of promoted Snap that it introduced. Now, it's tucking ads like TV commercials in the middle of Our Stories, which are compilations of user-generated videos. The stories can be for special events like today's British elections, or just general stories around a city.
Snapchat is finally delivering ads to the stories based on cities. For instance, today, there were commercials for the movie Age of Adeline within the video for New York users. Still, brands are hoping for more from Snapchat, there is no way to Like or Share an ad, and users can tap their phone just to skip it.
There are signs Snapchat is taking note of the shortcomings, though. This week, it introduced a way for users to share clips from its Discover partners—media companies like Comedy Central and ESPN—that split any ad sales with Snapchat. Just today, Daily Mail, a Discover partner, said at a presentation that its advertisers pay 2 cents a view for a 10-second video spot. Some Discover channels have been known to generate about a million views a day, but that number is said to be falling lately, by up to 50 percent.