What Works in Mobile: Walking the Tightrope Between Consumer Research and Creativity

| | Comments
In a time when an abundance of research is at-the-ready, it seems only natural to want to use its power to define what works in advertising. But, where does that leave creatives? Is it possible to strike a balance between imagination and research insights? Do we lose something vital in the advertising mix, if we lean towards one over the other? And, are there lessons we need to learn from both sides of the fence when it comes to different screens?

tightrope.jpgWith the Cannes Lions Festival happening now, where creativity takes centerstage, IAB and Firefly Millward Brown embarked on the breakthrough study, “A Mobile Manifesto: Creative Leaders on the Art of Successful Mobile Brand Messaging.” Our goal was to identify best practices in mobile creativity. We endeavored to identify proven methods for success that would help and not harness creative thinking in order to fuel the continued growth of the young medium.

To do this, we leveraged earlier research by Dynamic Logic that identified mobile advertising best practices as defined through consumer data on over 100 mobile campaigns. We then brought those findings to the attention of advertising creative powerhouses - including judges for the Cannes Lions Awards and the IAB MIXX Awards, as well as mobile innovators from agencies such as Chiat Day, Draft FCB, JWT, R/GA and Digitas. And then we asked them to respond.

At the most fundamental level, creatives agreed with the best practices gleaned from the consumer research - but the creatives also provided additional input to make the principles even more relevant to their work.

This high-level agreement between both the data and the creatives’ own actual, in-use best practices may indicate that there is a considerable level of experience with mobile among all participating parties. We had a large enough database on mobile campaign performance to find reliable trends in effectiveness; and we found ample creatives with significant experience working with mobile.

While individual comments varied, the creatives largely agreed with these broad notions identified through the ad impact data:

•    Clear and persistent branding is important for building brand awareness
•    Short, focused messaging plays well in mobile’s small format
•    A striking color palette can drive ad recall, but legibility is paramount
•    Consumers respond to mobile ads that give them something back

The advertising professionals also brought to the fore a new definition of context. It was found that on mobile context doesn’t just refer to the context of the ad on the screen, but the context of the consumer when they encounter the ad, including where they are located, what they are doing, and what they might need help with at that moment. Context now refers to the consumer’s life, not the accompanying article, video, or ad placements.

The creatives also highlighted a key area for improvement in the mobile creative lifecycle. Mobile is incorporated into the campaign creation process late, more as an addition to a devised campaign instead of being central to it, most respondents said.

My hope is that this study helps elevate mobile beyond this downstream role to play a greater role in multi-channel campaigns. To aid that cause, the report’s findings will be discussed on-stage by top-tier creatives and other industry leaders at the upcoming IAB Cannes Lions session on “Liquid Creativity,” keeping in mind that the potential of mobile has always been there, and that the screen consumers carry with them has now long been a reality. But today, we now have agreement on what works. Today we have experienced creatives and consumer data to back them up. We have found a way to walk the tightrope, letting a delicate stride turn into a big leap forward for mobile.

About the Author

sp_mane_sherrill.jpg

Sherrill Mane

Sherrill Mane is SVP, Research, Analytics and Measurement, at the IAB.


Comments