Mobile has quickly become the darling of the advertising world. In an age where people take their smartphone with them everywhere, advertisers know how important mobile screen time is to engaging, retaining and attracting customers.
However, advertisers also know that in a multiscreen, multidevice world, to place all their eggs in the proverbial mobile basket would be folly. To move customers along the decision-making process, they have to have all screens covered. Which is why it’s so important that mobile and other digital channels play nicely together.
However, this longed for convergence of the mobile and digital worlds is yet to happen. There are some good reasons for this, the main one being that mobile includes the app ecosystem, and Web and apps are fundamentally different. There are some obvious points, like cookies.
For example, on the Web, advertisers rely heavily on cookies in order to understand consumer behaviour and tailor their ads to be more relevant and contextual. Yet in the app world, it simply isn’t possible to work with cookies; a different tracking and attribution model is needed.
There is also more complexity in the app ecosystem. Let’s say you implement a Web campaign; the chances are that an advertiser would look to deliver it via a browser and would ensure that it has the big four — Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer. The campaign can be delivered across all of these browsers with just a few tweaks. Yet in the world of apps, ads and often landing pages are accessed within an application, not in a browser.
This requires different technology and exactly which is determined not only by the ad exchange/network being used by the publisher, but also by the operating system. A user experience that works like a dream on the Web will often be broken if just replicated in the mobile world, given many different variables.
These are just a few examples, but they serve to demonstrate that the real reason that mobile and digital are struggling to converge is complexity. The app ecosystem is different and more complicated. Replicating technologies from the digital world isn’t always possible or effective. Companies that realize that quickly, usually mobile-first companies, are at an advantage.
If advertisers want to effectively crack the mobility nut, they can’t just simply treat it as an add-on to digital. According to Nielsen, apps now account for 89%of all media time in mobile versus just 11% on the mobile Web.
If you sideline the application ecosystem, you are alienating at best — ignoring at worst — a huge captive audience. Such explosive and sustained growth in app traffic is what has made mobile such a strategic cornerstone for how advertisers ensure that their marketing campaigns deliver tangible bottom line growth to their business. That isn’t just my opinion. It has become a platform of such importance that it is only in recent quarters, when Facebook has been able demonstrate that it has a sustainable strategy for mobile and can monetise it as a platform, that its share price has started to recover after a shocking start.
Mobile is the future, but for sales growth it has to be integrated with the digital world. The two cannot operate in isolation. There will be consolidation within the market, largely driven by the needs and demands of advertisers. Yet industry watchers assume it will be the digital world that will extend into mobile. I always find this assumption surprising.
Mobile is so much more complex, handling multiple formats, rendering technologies, tracking tools and both Web and app platforms. The skills mastered in the mobile world are much more transferable, and arguably more valuable, than vice versa.
What’s to stop the mobile experts acquiring the digital ones? Convergence is coming, and I think for some it will be a surprise to see who is leading the charge.