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Jun 24, 2008
How To

How to Build a Mobile Ad Campaign: 4 Crucial Elements to Include + Mobile Ad Test

SUMMARY: Mobile advertising is becoming more mainstream every day. However, to take part, you must have a well-conceived campaign.

The founder of a major mobile portal sums up the strategies he teaches his advertisers to capture more value from their ads. He shares the four most effective elements of mobile advertising and tips on how to get double-digit response rates to your mobile messaging.
As US cell phone penetration continues to increase, more marketers are thinking about mobile advertising. 18.6% of marketers have already allocated resources for this year’s mobile efforts, according to Sherpa’s 2008 Email Marketing Benchmark Guide,

Jonathon Linner, Co-Founder and CEO, Limbo Inc., runs a mobile entertainment company with 50 advertisers. Limbo serves tens of millions of mobile ads a month to 2 million members who play games and get text alerts on subjects as varied as weather forecasts and diet tips.

Over the seven years Linner has worked in mobile, “the ads haven’t changed a great deal and the response rate hasn’t changed a great deal. The thing that has changed is agencies have kind of opened up to mobile advertising as something that they are either testing or doing on a regular basis.”

4 Elements of Your Mobile Strategy
Start by creating your mobile strategy. Linner says the most effective mobile ads should include four elements:
#1. Value
#2. Relevancy
#3. Simplicity
#4. Honesty

Creating mobile campaigns with those four attributes can pay off more than “buy brand X” messages. “Every brand has something that it’s trying to promote at any given time. You have to take the desires of the brand itself, what things do they believe are important and [think about] how do you make that part of the campaign.”

Element #1. Value

A valuable mobile ad is one that people enjoy reading and respond to -- something more than “buy brand X.” The two types of valuable branding messages are:

- Stick to the facts (advertising as content)
You can deliver interesting facts about your brand in ads with mobile content. This strategy can help clear up misconceptions or introduce your brand.

“Using the Toyota Prius as an example, you could say, ‘Buy a Toyota Prius,’ but that doesn’t add a lot of value to the consumer,” Linner says. “Instead, you could say, ‘Did you know that Prius emits this much less carbon a year than a typical car?’ You kind of give facts like that. The advertising becomes content, and consumers are actually much more responsive to it.”

- Incorporate humor (especially in ads of well-known products)
Dishing out facts is easier than being funny. For some audiences, however, humor can work better. “It’s a thing you see a lot in TV advertising. The ad has some value to the consumer not because they’re saying, ‘Buy our thing.’ They’re actually making you laugh, which makes you say, ‘Ha, that brand is a brand I’d like to associate with.’ ”

Typically, humor is better in instances when you’re not explaining specific virtues of a product. “If you’re talking about Coca-Cola, everyone knows Coke, everyone knows what it tastes like so the virtues of the product are well-known. In that case, humor might work better. “How do you make Coke interesting or funny … that’s probably not easy,” Linner says.

One approach is to play on the context of the ad. For example, an underwear brand suggested sponsoring Limbo’s “Word of the Day” update for ‘wedgie.’

Element #2. Relevancy

The more closely ads relate to content, the greater their response rates, Linner says. So, provide content in your ads that anticipates the views of the intended audience.

Examples of good ad-content combos:
o Earth-friendly tips with fuel-efficient car ads
o Diet tips with low-calorie soda ads
o Beauty tips with makeup ads
o Participants in a game or contest receiving ads for the prize

“They’ll typically ask for a lot more content if you can make the advertising relevant. If it’s not relevant, if it’s just kind of slamming an ad in there, your response rates [will show] people are not very happy with the advertising.”

Element #3. Simplicity

Mobile ads should be short and simple. Don’t ask people to respond when it’s not necessary.

Linner’s team worked with a soft-drink brand once that was convinced they wanted to do response rates, he says. “There wasn’t much of a reason to do the response. We did research in that campaign. We called [users] up after and people said, ‘I don’t know why you needed a response. I didn’t get anything from the next message.’ They didn’t find any value in responding to it, so they stopped.”

Element #4. Honesty

Integrating content and advertising is a great way to catch consumers’ interest, but don’t blur the line too much. People don’t like feeling deceived.

o WAP ad example
Ad links that are indistinguishable from content links can make users feel burned. WAP technology is still pretty slow. “You click on something, and it takes time to load,” Linner says. “If you click on a page and you feel, ‘Oh my god, I just landed on an advertisement page,’ you’re going to feel pretty negative toward the brand and toward the site. [Also], you want [those] people to click through whom [you] really want to click through.”

o SMS ad example
Linner has seen SMS ads that have ambiguous phrasing and dubious click-to-call functions. “They’ll say, ‘Hey, want to make more money?’ And you click on the thing and you’re connected to a get-a-degree-over-the-Internet kind of thing. By that ad, you had no idea what you were getting into,” he says. If the ad said, “Get a university diploma,” that would be more honest.

Automotive Mobile Ad Test
Linner’s team worked with an auto manufacturer that was sure its mobile strategy was sound. Linner disagreed and, to prove his point, he had his team run a mini-campaign for the manufacturer.

The manufacturer wanted to build their brand by delivering WAP ads to Limbo members playing a game to win a car. Occasionally, the ad would be served alongside game messages, such as, “Guess again!” The goal was to have users click the ad to visit the brand’s site.

The ads were relevant since they were delivered to consumers interested in winning a car, but Linner didn’t like the campaign. “They were pushing you to a place just so they could measure clicks. It was kind of clicks-for-clicks sake and it didn’t have a lot of relevance. The users didn’t know why they were supposed to click on it and it was very much a ‘buy our product’ version of an ad. One, people didn’t want to click on it, and, two, the ones who did were disappointed because there was no real reason to do it.”

Linner created a four-step plan for his campaign:

-> Step #1. Change the objective

Rather than driving users to click on an ad, Linner’s team drove them to the brand’s dealership. “Ultimately, what you want is people to go to a dealership, right? If people are at home, you might want them to go to a website. But if they’re out and about [with their cell phone] what you really want them to do is visit the dealership.”

-> Step #2. Keep the ads relevant

This is one part of the previous campaign that was on target and required no change. The ads were already being delivered to people interested in winning one of the brand’s cars.

-> Step #3. Add value

Linner’s ads offered incentives to visit a dealership. They tested different giveaways, including a free hat, T-shirt or $1,000 rebate. People had to show the ad on their cell phone to receive the gift.

-> Step #4. Simplify and keep it honest

Linner’s team thought clicking the ad was unnecessary. Response could be measured by counting the people who entered the dealership and showed their phones. Clicking required extra work. Instead, they delivered the message upfront: “Visit a dealership today and receive a free T-shirt!”

So, how did the two ads compare? About 11% of people who saw the ads Linner’s team created made the trip to the dealership vs. about 1% of people who saw the car manufacturer’s ads.

Useful links related to this article

CTIA - wireless demographics:

Limbo Inc.:

See Also:

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