Mobile Marketing Requires More Creativity

“There is no guaranteed formula for creative success on mobile, just as there is no guaranteed formula for a blockbuster movie or best-selling book or hit TV show.” – Andrew Keller, Global Creative Director, Facebook Creative Shop

In 2007, Apple made history with the invention of the first ever iPhone. A smartphone on steroids, with a touchscreen that created magic at the tap or swipe of a finger. Mobile applications, simply called “apps”, were suddenly on the top of every brand’s marketing wish list in the 2008-2011 era. Some have certainly succeeded, but most learned the hard way just how difficult it is to not only develop a useful app, but to maintain and market it as well. “Build it and they will come,” isn’t a sound marketing strategy in the mobile world.

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Once brands realized they could capitalize on the success of other apps and still reach users with their message, the entire marketing landscape changed. According to Magna Global, global mobile ad spend is projected to reach 247.4 billion U.S. dollars by 2020.


Unfortunately, a lot of these dollars are spent on repurposing ads that were originally made for print or TV. This strategy doesn’t work for a variety of reasons, yet the market continues to be saturated with a bunch of really bad ads – from both a creative and user experience perspective. With so many brands shifting their ad budgets to mobile, why are the creative briefs focused on the same old formats for TV and print?

In Facebook’s report “Why Creativity Matters More in the Age of Mobile,” they uncover four key shifts in the way we consume mobile content. Put simply, we don’t consume content on a mobile device the same way we do on a TV screen or even on a desktop computer. Even though all three of those mediums are highly visual, the context, mindset, and expectations are very different. This means creative should be created for the purpose of mobile, rather than simply placed on mobile.

Mobile ad spend

As a mobile marketing company, we see some really great – and really terrible – mobile ad campaigns. What we’ve learned is there is no secret formula to good advertising creative, just as there is no secret formula to creating a viral video. That’s the bad news. The good news is mobile is the perfect environment to test ideas and creative variations, without the hefty price tag that typically comes with TV commercials.  With so much mobile user data available, brands can target very specific consumer segments for maximum relevancy. And once in market, they can use real-time data to make adjustments to the creative, or use the insights to inform future campaigns. It can feel a little like pulling levers until you hit the jackpot, but that’s all part of the excitement.