Focusing on Mobile Ad ROI Is the Wrong First Step

Yesterday, Thursday 10/22, NetNewsCheck published an opinion article by Doug Bennett, CEO of Ballantine Media.  The one sentence summary: mobile advertising needs a complete “do-over with a laser focus on maximizing ROI”. 

The article makes great points. Let’s use better data to drive decisions, make creating ads easier, and track results, but we disagree with the overall argument.

Having a singular focus on maximizing the ROI of mobile advertising encourages the wrong behavior.  

Since the banner ad made its debut, digital publishers have been doing everything they can do squeeze every penny out of their audience, with no regard to user experience. This leads to pop-up ads, interstitials, audio blasting when you load the page, tiny “X” touch points that are impossible to hit and close the ad.

Focus exclusively on ROI and prepare to keep reading about the rise of ad blocking.

The goal for publishers isn’t to maximize advertising’s digital ROI. Rather it’s to provide the best advertising experience for advertisers AND end users.  

If we’re going to completely re-think mobile advertising, here’s our list.

  • Throw out the horrible ad formats: the 300×50 banner is first to go, followed by pop-ups and interstitials.
  • Focus on mobile appropriate ad formats. Native (clearly marked as sponsored), video, recommended content (think Taboola or Outbrain).
  • Use better data to reach the target audience and increase relevance for advertiser and end users.
    • Demographics, behaviors.
    • Location, both real-time and over extended periods of time.
  • Build better creative for mobile. Clear, creative, concise messaging.

Yes, we want more bang for the buck in mobile ads, too. If that’s the end goal, it’s not maximizing ROI, it’s maximizing user experience.

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