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How to Make Smarter Ad Spends in 2014


Our friends at the Internet Advertising Bureau UK asked Vibrant Media’s Henry Pinto to give his thoughts on how advertisers can be more successful in 2014.

Working at the world’s leading provider of in-content contextual technology (partnering with brands such as Unilever, Microsoft, Visa, and HP) gives him some good insider info on the past, present, and future of advertising.

It’s been said time and time again in the online media industry – “This year will be the year of mobile.” January 1, 2013 was no different and why not?! 2012 saw annual digital ad spend in the UK grow to £5.4Bn, a 12.5% increase on the previous year and an astonishing 148% increase for the mobile market. A flurry of predictions were made for a mobile content explosion in 2013, with expectations that display and location-based advertising would see increased spend. It was also believed that social and video would drive growth for digital display.

2013 did indeed see figures continue to climb for many aspects of mobile and tablet advertising. UK tech consumers now typically have access to 5.4 portable devices and 68% of mobile users now own a smart phone. H1 figures revealed that digital ad spend had grown to £3.041Bn with mobile ad spend in the UK market rocketing to £429.2m a 127% increase from the same period the previous year. Following this, it was announced that Internet advertising revenues in the U.S. hit a record high of $10.69 billion for the third quarter of 2013.

So 2013 was a brilliant year for mobile advertising and digital ad-spend is higher than it’s ever been before. So what can we expect for 2014? Higher reach and revenue figures seem almost a given, but apart from the numbers what else is set or needs to change?

Advertisers follow the stars

Advertisers and publishers have been very slow in understanding mobile advertising and adapting it to suit consumer behaviour; however an annual snapshot survey by the IAB has shown the attitude towards mobile is changing significantly: in the 2013 poll, 64% of respondents claimed to have an above average understanding of mobile advertising –more than ever before.

It could be argued that mobile advertising units have remained static in terms of their effectiveness. Ordinary mobile banner ads just don’t cut it with the consumer. A study carried out by the IAB in conjunction with Vibrant Media and comScore demonstrated the improved performance of Rising Star adverts where the user is given more control. These rising star adverts which include Vibrant Media’s “Adhesion Banner” require the user to initiate the creative after pressing a trigger within the article content. The Rising Star adverts out-performed the ordinary mobile banner advert in several key areas:

  • Rising stars: 2x higher interaction rate
  • Rising stars: 23% more likely for viewers to recall brand message
  • Rising stars: 66% of users rate them more favourably

More information about this study can be found

Publishers watch the birdy

It’s not just advertisers who need to adapt to mobile – publishers also need to play their part in order to optimise the user experience. As recently published in Media Week, a stark warning was given to publishers who are failing to optimise their domains for mobile users. Fiona Salmon, Publisher Solutions Director at Vibrant Media commented on this lack of agility from digital publishers saying “it’s conceivable that future updates to Google’s algorithm will punish the mobile strategy laggards”.  Whether this prediction proves to be correct we can only wait and see, but it is well documented that previous Google algorithm updates have caused sudden significant reductions in page visitors for many websites in the past.

The latest Google algorithm update Humming Bird has been designed to enhance the performance of mobile searches in particular.

Merging Media

The digital companies who produce true cross-platform and responsive advertising units will take the lead in 2014. Mobile users abhor the lack of control they have for advertising units: 51% of those asked in a recent survey said they mostly initiated ads by mistake and 79% of respondents were annoyed by self-initiating mobile adverts. Consumers want to feel empowered by their digital content experience; this intrusive advertising strategy does not allow for that and poorly represents brands. Instead units like the Rising Stars will lead the way.

Programmatic Proliferation

Industry trends show programmatic buying is growing significantly for mobile and other display formats. A survey of the 9 key markets outside of the US revealed programmatic buying represented $12bn in 2013 and will nearly triple in the next four years to $33bn. The US market has and will continue to hold the largest share of programmatic buying, but markets such as the UK are still expected see growth of programmatic to around 60%. An ever larger variety of advertising units will be available for trade across buying platforms as the technology continues to mature.

Going Native

Native advertising is going to establish itself further in 2014. Twitter’s MoPub – a mobile advertising exchange – released a product in December that allows thousands of mobile-app publishers to use native advertising; this is a reflection of native as a fast growing resource of digital revenue. The advantage of native advertising is the higher viewability and contextual relevance, due to the adverts blending seamlessly within the main content streams, such as on Twitter and Facebook.

So 2014 looks set to be the year where advertisers and publishers optimise the consumer experience of adverts across all platforms. The strong uptake in programmatic is certain to aid the growth of all digital advertising formats - especially mobile.

This content was originally made available on the IAB UK blog.

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