Dos and don'ts in the era of mobile storytelling

A dominant theme in Mary Meeker’s “Internet Trends” report this year is the surge in importance and use of images as opposed to text based formats online.

Added to this, Sensor Tower’s recent Store Intelligence report unveiled that the average iOS user spends nearly an hour a day on Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, highlighting the value of these image based formats to target online shoppers. 

Consumer brands in fashion and food are seeing particularly high levels of engagement because of Instagram’s image-led format, with Sainsbury’s most recently stating ‘new digital media channels’ will command an increasing share of its media spend as it moves forward in its £1.4bn merger with Argos.

These social platforms enable brands to curate their products and create desire for their brand based on imagery and advocacy. The evolution of images in the path to purchase is also linked to consumers living busy, on-the-go lifestyles and becoming mobile-first.

The hassle of having to stop what you’re doing to type a wholly new query into a search bar has been organically replaced by social platforms that aggregate more manageable thumbnail advertisements for consumers to choose from.

Take advantage of the fact every consumer has a camera phone and use their imagery in your own campaigns

A customer’s ability to take a photo on the go means that they expect to be able to find a match for an item of clothing they see a friend wearing or identify something that they try on in store and want to buy online at a later time.

Consumers’ changing behaviour on social and in using mobile photos to discover new products and brands means that images should be a crucial element in a marketer’s mobile strategy.

However, whilst using imagery is key, there are dos and don’ts to ensure it is integrated successfully across display marketing on mobile.

Pay attention to native formats

Native formats complement image-based ad campaigns by blurring the lines between editorial and advertorial, and offer users a more seamless experience.

For example, featuring ads amongst curated content on a social media site like Facebook entertains the user with a variety of information; news they care about, friends they engage with and brands they love for example.

Take advantage of these native formats but use them carefully. The idea is that these layouts should be familiar to the user so choose images that flow within the page and echo the content style of the social network to ensure the content will be shared.

Also, when it comes to implementation, it’s important to remember that social giants like Facebook and Instagram benefit from huge engineering teams and sway in their market.

Smaller businesses will likely have to involve third-party experts who can scan the display opportunity their site presents and dynamically format ad content to match the unique look and style of the page where it will be placed.

Don’t ignore device restrictions 

Mobile is one of the most complex formats for adverts. Balancing the way in which these devices operate, whilst addressing the nuances and restrictions in terms of its screen size and layout is no small feat when it comes to creative.

Remember that standard desktop banner formats simply can’t be ‘drag and dropped’ onto mobile. Images just won’t translate and will become distorted.

Mobile ads are already moving beyond integrating simple gestures to become far more immersive and images are playing a role in this. Dynamic ads which include interactive images and video that encourage the user to engage with the product within the ad are driving results for brands.

If we look at brands like Apple, it owes its success to the fact that it created a brand that was led first and foremost by user experience. Recent developments, such as 360 degree video in YouTube and vertical video though apps such as Snapchat, are great examples of the way mobile and image has become ingrained in user generated content creation.

Take advantage of the fact every consumer has a camera phone and use their imagery in your own campaigns.

Invest in speed

Another important consideration when weighing up the value of going visual, is the need to create fast-loading display advertising with low data requirements. For brands that need to maintain consistency across radically different territories, failure to manage this could be their undoing.

It isn’t all doom and gloom though, Google’s announcement of its Accelerated Mobile Pages Project to improve publisher page load performance through an open source initiative has captured a lot of attention within the industry.

Similarly, the new light, encrypted, adchoice supported, non-invasive (LEAN) ad framework has been endorsed by IABs around the world.

These principles will also work to address areas of consumer frustration, such as latency on page loads and disruption to the user experience. Ultimately, images have become a pivotal tool in the marketer’s arsenal.

If rushed, image-led campaigns can become a mess of poor compatibility and ad annoyance, but brands that hone their display around relevancy, format, and speed requirements will lay the foundations for truly immersive experiences.

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