Dave Allen

More on mobile ad disruptiveness

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Mobile, Advertising, Dave Allen, North

“Despite the hype perpetuated by mobile ad companies and their PR firms, the fact is that demand for smartphone display ads remains minuscule, at least compared to the supply out there.” – Jack Marshall, Digiday, in his article Display Ads Might Never Work in Mobile.

One question might be – why do marketers expect display ads to work in mobile?

More from Marshall:

“I don’t think brand display advertising has much of a future on smartphones.” said BuzzFeed President John Steinberg. “Proponents of display talk about its ‘beauty,’ but I don’t think people want it in that environment. They don’t want to be interrupted when they’re trying to get to a piece of content.”

The counterpoint is the Mary Meeker slide. It shows the time spent on mobile versus share of budgets spent. The idea is these lines will converge. Not necessarily. The issues with display ads on smartphones are well known: they’re tiny, they’re not well targeted and they’re a poor fit for the experience.


Despite the range of mobile display ad solutions on the market, advertisers’ reluctance to invest significant budget in the area could be evidence of this. Even offerings like Apple’s iAd have struggled to gain any real traction in the market, despite a strong start. The smartphone form-factor and the context in which it’s used perhaps just doesn’t lend itself to straight-up brand advertising. Most consumers use their smartphones for utility or social networking and not to consume media the way they would with TV or print.

A year or two ago, agencies were figuring out how to buy mobile display and what type of apps to build. Now, they’re trying to figure out how to put their clients in front of users in ways that are more relevant to how people are using their devices.

Simply put, the priority isn’t display. Rather, Schafer suggested content-like experiences resonate far more successfully with smartphone audiences than display does and, perhaps, ever will. “Smartphones aren’t the type of place you’ll tolerate being distracted like TV, or even on the desktop. I don’t think we can solve a new problem there with an old solution.”