Mobile

Big brands conquer ‘banner blindness’ with creative mobile ad strategies

Above: Panelists discussing banner ads at MobileBeat

Image Credit: Michael O'Donnell/VentureBeat

SAN FRANCISCO — Big brands are tired of being ignored. On mobile that is.

Brands are constantly trying to reach their consumers, and these days a majority of their consumers are on mobile devices. However consumer “banner blindness” means that brands need to find new, innovative ways (beyond banner ads) to engage with their consumers.

During a MobileBeat breakout session about mobile advertising, executives from major brands and ad agencies discussed how mobile devices have transformed their business and marketing strategies.

Bonin Bough is the VP of Global Media & Consumer Engagement for Mondelez International, a spin-off of Kraft Foods that manufactures products like Oreo, Trident, and Cadbury. He said Mondelez is making a big push to put 10 percent of all its media spending into mobile.

“Of the seven billion people in the world, 5 billion have phones,” Bough said during the discussion. “4.1 have toothbrushes. This is the biggest revolution we have to connect with consumers, and big brands haven’t put enough pressure on our executives and partners to measure it. I don’t think banners are bad, but how do we create utility that actually matters, so people actually care about it?”

Bough shared the example of Oreo’s “Twist, Lick, Dunk” mobile game which was wildly successful in engaging consumers. Mondelez reached out to a third-party development agency to think of a creative way to engage consumers on mobile. The game now has 3.1 million users, and 50K daily active users. It hit 300K users on its peak day and 2.2 billion Oreos have been dunked. Users are playing the game, seeing advertisement, unlocking Kiip rewards, and coming back for more.

Popular “fast-fashion” clothing brand Forever 21 is taking a different approach to creative mobile marketing. The company has a large and dedicated following of female shoppers who are active on social media. Rather than building its own app, Forever 21 worked off the momentum of an existing channel.

“Instagram is huge for our users” said Forever 21′s head of mobile Rachel Youens. “Customers are taking pictures of themselves inside dressing rooms and wearing our outfits out with their friends. We have over 1 million Instagram followers and we take their photos, curate them, make them shoppable, and run them on our website using the Instragram API. This feature looks like the platform our users already enjoy, but they can literally buy  clothes off their friends back and share pictures. We are piggybacking off someone else’s awesome community from an app on everyone’s phone.”

Anthony Toguchi is in charge of global brand activation and mobile lead for Wyeth Nutrition, which is now part of Nestle. He said that when you are part of a large corporation, it can be difficult to move fast. A powerful way of staying innovative is to work with startups and developers who can get creative with current industry trends.

“Developers give us a sanity check,” he said during the session. “We have creative people and big ideas, and then find out that we may not be ready for that or there are some unforeseen challenges. Developers give us feedback up front and on the flip side push us.”

Forever 21 and Mondelez also work with startups to stay ahead of the game.  Jon Nolz is the VP and GM of the mobile advertising network Hipcricket. He said that while incubator programs, partnerships, and outsourcing development are all useful methods, banner advertising still has value. Mobile ad revenue increased by a staggering 82.8 percent in 2012 and mobile dislay ads saw a 87.3 percent bump. Mobile is a “powerhouse advertising medium” and if done right, banner ad campaigns can have a huge impact. He gave the example of McDonals which would customize banner ads based on time of day and location, so potential customers are tempted with Sausage McMuffins or Big MAcs depending on context, and even location-specific sandwiches.

“There has to be an elegance to delivering the message because phones are such a personal device,” he said.

Consumers these days demand quality content and personalization from brands. We expect to be presented with relevant information and we want that those advertising experiences to be enjoyable, otherwise we ignore them. The world of mobile advertising, and even other forms of brand marketing and digital media, is moving towards a more authentic, targeted experience where data can be used to turn anonymous visitor into individual consumers.

Now its time to go twist, lick, and dunk an Oreo. I’ve been craving on all sessions.

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