#AppsWorld preview: Why ‘spray and pray’ banners just don’t cut it on mobile

James has a passion for how technologies influence business and has several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.


As the mobile sphere continues to open up, the opportunities for marketers and advertisers to build brand awareness and emphasise their message opens up with it.

Marketing Tech spoke to Jason Armitage, senior consumer research analyst for digital media and applications at Yankee Group, and James Chandler, head of mobile at Mindshare ahead of their appearance at Apps World, to get an insight into how mobile can fit into an overall marketing blueprint.

A recurrent theme from both men is that a mobile advertising strategy shouldn’t be forced, and not to do something just because it hits the zeitgeist: do what’s right for your brand.

App utilisation is a key case in point.

“We find [apps] work very well when there’s a very immersive activity involved,” says Armitage.

“One of the elements that tends to happen a lot is people breaking to develop an application simply because apps get very heavy usage – and that might not actually be an appropriate format to use for the particular marketing objective you’re trying to achieve,” he adds.

App usage overtakes mobile web usage in 2012

Recent Yankee Group research figures noted a heavy increase in app usage, even increasing mobile web usage this year.

As part of Yankee’s 2012 US Consumer Survey (see left), the figures revealed that in the second half of 2011, users on average spent 25 minutes per day on mobile web as opposed to 23 on apps – however the figures flipped completely from January to June 2012, with mobile web (27mins) trailing to apps (30).

“It does indicate that as we go forward and look over the mid-term, expenditure will go more and more on mobile applications,” notes Armitage, before mentioning the most important statistic.

“But when you look at both formats, 90% of users who are using either were using both,” says Armitage, “so again it comes down to the question of using the right format for the right time and place.

“Applications are great for specific uses, but the actual scenario and the objectives you’re trying to achieve have to be considered,” he adds.

Mobile advertising: get innovative

One thing both men agreed on was that the paradigm has changed. One size fits all banners simply aren’t going to cut it for mobile advertising.

As Armitage puts it: “Where we see mobile advertising fail is where people have taken existing formats that work very well in advertising – for example banners – and just implemented that straight onto a mobile device.

“That approach just doesn’t work very well on mobile,” he adds.

And according to Chandler, in an advisory capacity the message is getting through.

“We’ve got a minimum number of clients that are doing these standard banner now, and it’s all about rich media,” he says, adding: “Sync beyond this whole ‘spray and pray’ banner approach – I’d say that’s been and gone quite quickly on mobile, which is good”.

“Really simple, really integrated”

“It’s not about mobile strategy particularly,” argues Chandler. “It’s about how mobiles work in your overall strategy.”

Yet Chandler admits that the ecosystem was a jungle, and his job was to tell brands what they should be doing – or more importantly, not wasting time on what they shouldn’t be doing.

“There’s so much to do, and our role as an agency is to debunk a lot of that and say ‘out of these 50 things you could do, here’s the three quick wins and long term, here’s the things you want to look at’.

“In a whole ecosystem it’s so complex and the easiest thing to do often is not do anything, not mobilise your site – and there are brands that ultimately have suffered and will suffer in the long term for not doing that,” he adds.

So the message is clear: it’s a tough process, but ultimately worthwhile, especially given how rapid the progression has been.

“18 months ago, there might have been the odd project around, but more and more it’s become something that’s a lot more integrated,” says Chandler.

“We’re at the point now where on certain brands we’re starting with mobile.”

Jason Armitage and James Chandler are both appearing at Apps World on 2-3 October in London to discuss building effective strategies in mobile marketing and mobile advertising. To find out more information on how you can attend, visit the Apps World website.

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