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The first few slides of nearly every mobile ad sales deck are the same: “Why mobile?” They typically feature hockey-stick graphs and Internet trend reports, convincing you to throw your budgets into mobile. That’s fine for context, but we’re at a point where you deserve more meat.

Mobile advertisers, I ask of you to demand more. When you head into a meeting with a media or technology partner, come prepared with hard questions. Find out if they really understand your business, what your future goals and objectives are, your key performance indicators (KPIs), technologies you use, what keeps you up at night, what keeps your boss up at night, etc. The more diligent you are in asking advanced questions, the less you become an “easy” target and get serious answers. It’s okay to play hard to get — make them work for your business.

Don’t follow the herd — adopt innovation that’s right for you

Because mobile is so new, it’s easy for media and technology sales reps to claim that new solutions and campaigns are first-to-market, game-changing, and cutting-edge. Mobile companies want to claim they are disrupting just about everything.

But the mobile LUMAscape is getting crowded; what we really need are steady, expert hands that are dedicated to fixing what’s wrong today, to improving upon what already exists.

Take beacons, for example. When they first arrived on the scene last year, every retail marketer got excited about driving in-store traffic and delivering real-time, location-based push notifications. But many were not aware of the obstacles that stood between them and the consumer — namely, a direct connection via a branded app and a healthy volume of permissions.

On top of that, working with just one independent beacon provider is not enough; you need a group of them to run an effective large-scale campaign, and, until recently, that group did not exist. Advertisers that chased the “shiny beacon” in 2014 might have gotten out in front of a new opportunity, but because that opportunity wasn’t fully mature, it’s likely that very few obtained strong performance metrics.

As this example illustrates, there is not always significant value in chasing the next new shiny object that pops up — it depends on the situation, and it’s up to you to vet its worth. First focus on getting your house in order; only then, entertain other innovative ideas that will improve upon what you already have.

[Editor’s note: Filtering through the tech noise, and helping brands figure out what really works to help them drive growth in mobile is what our Mobile Summit in SF next week is all about.]

Get mobile out of the Direct Response box

Are you focused on any of the following goals?

“Shrink the banner.”

“Tell a warm, engaging story… in 10 seconds.”

“Drive customers to the nearest store.”

If so, you’re on the wrong track. Trying to adapt existing online creative to fit on a phone screen is a rookie move. Seeing how mobile devices are personal and intimate to a consumer and then trying to deliver emotion and warmth — but neglecting to integrate this into a larger, cross-platform storytelling campaign — is an honest but costly mistake.

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen mobile advertisers run into is assuming that since mobile has excellent direct-response capabilities, such as the GPS-driven “navigate to store” or “find nearest dealer,” that it is mobile’s one-and-only value.

Mobile direct response is wonderful, but you can do so much more. Mobile ad formats today are maturing, not just to diversify calls to action and serve performance KPIs, but also to better present brand values and deepen engagement and loyalty. If you still don’t believe me, here is a gallery of mobile examples from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

Keep pushing for mobile creativity

Although mobile creative has come very far, in reality, the vast majority of mobile media today is still the plain-Jane banner. Globally, just 15% of impressions are rich media; half of that is video. So if you’re standing in a room of 10 marketers, 8.5 of them are only interested in buying banner advertising. And one of them might be interested in a video.

I challenge marketers to push mobile as if it was a kid with big dreams and limitless potential. When presented with or creating a campaign brief, I challenge you to use just one of IAB’s Rising Star units over a banner-only campaign, and to build ROI proof points that will ease mobile adoption among your peers. And finally, I challenge marketers to demonstrate that we are more than can be contained in a 320 x 50 space. If we all start embracing these kinds of challenges, together we’ll gain significant ground in 2015.

Scott Swanson is President of Global Advertising at Opera Mediaworks

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