Mobile in a cognitive world

Joy Dean, Director of Partnerships, Western Europe & UK at Widespace, talks about mobile advertising and content and how we should follow the consumer rather than the tech.

Joy Dean

At the start of 2016, the global 4G connection base passed the one billion mark as 4G mobile networks became available in over 151 countries across the world. By the end of this year, the number of 4G connections across the developing world will overtake the developed world.

With the near ubiquity of high-speed broadband access and an additional 2.6 billion people connected to faster mobile broadband networks in countries such as India over the next five years, we are entering a global cognitive era, not just for artificial intelligence in computing but in smartphone technologies as well.

The resulting impact of a world where more of us are carrying ever-cleverer computers around in our pockets, which react across faster global networks, is a smartphone ecosystem that’s more aware of our preferences and surroundings, can anticipate our needs and provide us with relevant information at the right time. Smartphones are a key part of the cognitive technological era that comprises machine learning, computer vision, intelligent connectivity and always-on sensing and advertisers should be looking to take full advantage.

However, just because faster mobile network speeds allow brands to serve more complex advertising messages, it doesn’t mean we should. Any form of mobile content that slows down page-load speeds, interrupts the user experience and causes concerns over privacy, data collection and malware will result in more people turning to ad-blocking software.

By forcing mobile users to view your interstitial or pop-up ad, it could potentially damage your brand by turning it into an irritant and associating it with unwelcome messaging that comes between the person and the content they’re trying to reach, when really we should be adding value to that content.

The key to mobile advertising in this cognitive era is letting the user decide which content they want to engage with – an emerging trend evidenced by Google’s recent announcement that it would be ranking websites that use pop-ups and interstitial ads lower in search results, as they take the choice of whether to view an ad out of the customer’s hands. Mobile-first strategies can learn much from the adoption of virtual reality whereby consumers may be experiencing the same environment but they’re focused on different aspects depending on what has inspired or stimulated their senses.

By understanding consumer insights, brands can use the mobile space to deliver a fresh personalised approach, which is fun and engaging without interrupting the content it sits alongside. The Kenzo World fragrance ad, directed by Spike Jonze, is a great example of this type of content. It breaks the mold of traditional perfume advertising because it’s unexpected, compelling, captivating and once you’ve seen it, you just have to tell everyone about it.

With advancements in super computing and artificial intelligence, the medium of mobile advertising will be tempted to follow the technology into new formats, big data and more complex targeting. But the more we’re able to focus on how we would like consumers to react to our mobile content rather than what’s possible via network evolution, the easier it will be to go beyond the click and make advertising more emotive, more shareable and talked about.

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