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Stop Trying To Make Mobile Ads Mirror Online and TV

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Advertising Week kicked off in London this week and it's surely proving the notion that the advertising industry is full of spirit and innovation. While all forms of media were represented (TV, online, etc.), it was mobile that quickly rose to the center of many of the conversations taking place, both on panels and in impromptu chats with advertising veterans, gurus and newbies alike. Clearly, mobile is getting brands and consumers excited.

For the UK market in particular, mobile advertising is being championed by brands and agencies for its ability to draw in a significant amount of revenue that will buoy the region's struggling economy. In 2012, British advertisers spent more money per mobile internet user than any other country in the world. That's 36.35 per mobile internet user in the UK, with Norway and the United States trailing behind in second and third places, respectively. As mobile device adoption grows worldwide and innovations in mobile ad technology and rich media emerge, worldwide mobile ad revenue is forecast to reach $24.5 billion by 2016.

Today, I presented a workshop titled, Mobile Marketing Lessons: Common Mistakes To Avoid, to a packed room of brand marketers, agency creatives, media planners and the sort. One attendee pointed out a common mobile advertising misconception. "Mobile advertising just isn't innovative enough...there's a problem with the current ad formats," said this attendee. To that, I simply said (and will say it multiple times), that's not true. The real question you should be asking yourself is: What do you want to accomplish with mobile? Are you hoping to replicate the age-old 60-second TV spot and get the same metrics in terms of eyeballs, engagement and sales? Mobile, online and TV ads are not the same, and trying to duplicate the creative execution and results of online or TV ads onto mobile devices will only result in failure, frustration and ill-spent dollars (and resources). We need to identify with the mobile user and design ad formats specifically for the mobile medium instead of trying to measure ads using other medium's yardsticks.

That being said, we're not in a place yet to make big statements about what works and doesn't work in mobile. There are still too many brands that aren't approaching advertising in terms of mobile first yet. Having a sound mobile strategy (and executing against pre-determined KPIs) will make all the difference between a successful mobile ad campaign and wasted ad dollars. Mobile is like a child - you have to nurture it, feed it, take care of it and watch it grow into something meaningful. The reality is that mobile users consume media content and interact with ads differently than they would on other traditional forms of media. Understand those differences and plan accordingly.

Not surprisingly, tablet talk ruled the first day of Advertising Week Europe. There are just so many interesting ways the European advertising community will uncover in their quest to engage tablet users. Given the fact that more and more consumers are replacing PCs with tablets, is it any wonder that, for the first time ever, tablet traffic surpassed smartphone traffic last month (February)? There was a lot of forward-thinking discussion and creative examples about how brands can and will use technology and the mobility of these always on-always connected devices and their unique sensors and form factors to engage their customers in ways not available with laptops or TV sets.

The day ended for me with an amazing Gala Reception at St. Paul's Cathedral. There was tons of digital and mobile excitement, topped by a performance from "Britain's Got Talent" phenom Jonathan and Charlotte, followed by a high-energy concert courtesy of Spotify and Yahoo's OMG. The vibe was reminiscent of the early online days. Is this a sign of things to come?