Why Most Mobile Ads Suck And How To Unsuck Them

Every brand wants their customers to have a good brand experience and mobile ads should not be an exception.
Good TV and print ads have always made users feel emotions. When the move to digital came, a lot of this emotional story was lost.
On mobile, we can accomplish what digital promised. We can create engaging advertisements and delivering a good experience at the same time! We need to create engaging ads for users so brands can stand out in the digital clutter.
Every aspect of the advertisement must be mobile-focused to truly give users a great experience.

What’s been holding mobile ads back?

Well, there are quite a few things, but in summary:

Awareness & Perception

Many people view mobile as just an extension of desktop, which they in turn view as an extension of traditional media.


Most of the tech that powers modern ads is, well, pretty ancient and not capable of making the most of the mobile ecosystem.


This is a carryover from technology, but it’s a point worth making on its own: a lot of mobile users won’t have a desktop-grade Internet connection, so serving them ads that are 1-2mb are out of the question.
Most platforms today can’t create engaging advertisements that are mobile-focused. For an ad to be truly mobile, the platform creating that ad must be built with mobile in mind, first and foremost. It cannot be a transformation from desktop to mobile. Mobile is something that’s far more personal than desktop or TV. We must give users the ability to connect with the brand.
Yes, cool, engaging mobile advertisements will grab attention, but what if they are 1-2mb? Users probably won’t see it, because it’s too big.

What are customers asking for from mobile ads?

In May 2016, Verve Mobile surveyed 3,000 US internet users ages 14 to 29 and asked them which elements would be key to a “perfect” mobile ad experience. The top 3 are drum *drum roll*…

“Can be saved and accessed later”

They want to be able to take the ad and perhaps get a link to it in their inbox or sent to them via social media.

“Delivered by a trusted source with a safety “seal of approval”

Trust. It’s a big issue in digital ads at the moment so, perhaps unsurprisingly, teens and millennials are looking for reassurance that what they’re seeing, isn’t silently adding their beloved smartphone to a malicious botnet and that the offer is legit.

“Adds a coupon or offer to the user’s mobile wallet”

Most ads shout at people to do something right now click this, buy that, install now, etcetera. “But, I’m on the train, reading a great article about otters – I don’t want to do your thing right now, I want to do my thing”. So let them do their thing, but give them an easy way to return to your offer when it’s convenient for them.

The Millennial’s Mobile Ad Wishlist

Overall, the results reveal that this audience is looking for more than just an animated banner or a full-screen video ad. They want things a good deal more complex than this. In fact, for some time now, our own team has been trying to sell the idea that users want to get the info from the ad, in their inbox for them to use later.
So, let’s mix things up a little. As marketers, let’s combine a few of the most asked for features in our mobile ads. Like a coupon that can be saved for later or added directly to a digital wallet.
These features can be integrated into an advertisement without making it too heavy. They can also add to the storytelling. It’s something that is hard to accomplish, but with great partners that have good tools, it’s something that can be achieved.