So as a follow on to the basic questions about 4G in my last post, I have a hypothesis around 4G and the future of Mobile Adverts. It’s a future vision of advertising and it's about the potential of 4G, and the need for 4G to help us (all) get a better experience from mobile ads.
Some ads work and some ads don't. Ads work in print: for example in a glossy magazine. The glossy ads kinda match up to the experience of the rest of the magazine. And people still seem happy to pay to read the magazine and to flip through the ads too. Ads work on TV: they interrupt the experience of watching your favourite soap opera, but they don't require you to do anything new; you're still "sat back watching the box". But ads don’t work on mobile. Ads don’t work on mobile because they’re not native to it, they’re at odds with it. I read a great article about 'nativeness' in ads - over here at The Awl which explains some of these concepts and others in more depth. But for me the future is not about removing ads altogether rather finding new ways in which ads can be useful, informative, enjoyable, and profitable (for advertisers and for us customers).
So mobile can provide us with so much more data about where someone is, what they're doing, who they're doing it with and so on, so I wonder why mobile ads are still so unintelligent. For mobile ads to work smarter it will take context, and that's about location, time, proximity (to something / someone / somewhere), what's just happened, what usually happens, the weather, the news, my preferences about where I shop, what I buy, what's on my wish list, what I searched for but not what I bought already, what I may be interested in, what my friends are interested in and so on.
Mobile can provide us with that but not on 3G. It's just not reliable or fast enough. And at the moment we still don't rely on 3G all day long as we'd have no battery left and we'd likely run out of our ever dwindling data allocation. When we get good 4G, I can see huge potential to reach customers with ads and insights, and content - in real time, and with real relevancy.
In my talk at CW500 last week the crowd shared concerns about 'being bombarded'. But 4G is also about greater control, and not about being bombarded. For mobile users if we can set up preferences to allow certain data to be captured, we can also set up preferences about what type of ads, content and communications we receive; and when and where we receive them. 4G becomes a bigger pipe then - of data outbound and relevance inbound.
If I'm in a certain location, say I've just left work and on my walk to the tube I'm waking through Covent Garden, it's 6.15 pm, the weather's good (I'm not in a rush), I've been paid recently, it's Thursday or Friday evening, my friend's birthday is this weekend, I've been trying to buy her a gift online for days now but haven't then maybe I'm open to certain types of ads. What if, knowing the value of the gifts I've been searching for, and the fact that this is now my spare time, around shops open for at least another hour, and I'm in no rush, and I have money this week, and I need to buy something soon, maybe I'm now really open to suggestions. And I'm in Covent Garden so anything that makes it easy for me will likely work and be very welcomed. What if these retailers are able to target me (a very personalised me, not a segmented me) and are able to offer me just a small discount or value add offer to entice me into their shop?
For all of us on both sides of the customer / retailer fence this is the holy grail of advertising - an ad or an offer just for 'me'. In terms of data we're not far off, but for this to work for people in their daily lives we need that faster better connection. We need systems to be real time. We need everything to be more relevant. So do I think 4G will force better ads? No. But hopefully a few clever innovators will make this happen and then the rest will follow suit.