August 17, 2016 | blog | by Alexian Chiavegato

The Great Divide and How to Bridge It

Mobile advertising is at a crossroads. It’s an incredibly effective way to reach consumers and readers, but it’s still relatively young and can easily go astray. Choosing the right direction to continue success could lead to or away from the great divide between the way advertisers and operators feel about the user experience they create and the way that users feel about it.

According to a new report from mobile operator Unlockd, 85 percent of advertisers believe the mobile advertising user experience is positive for the user. Only three percent of those advertisers surveyed thought the experience might be negative. Mobile operators tend to agree as well, with 82 percent considering mobile marketing a positive experience for users. These numbers exude confidence, and line up with an industry that is committed to keeping the consumer’s happiness at an all-time high.

This is where that divide comes in. Less than half (47 percent) report of consumers agree with the sentiments expressed by advertisers and operators. Where is the difference between 85 percent and 47 percent coming from?

One of the main benefits of mobile advertising is its ability to target users by interests and location, yet 39 percent of consumers found mobile ads irrelevant. Other reasons included the volume of mobile advertisements and the format in which the ads were placed. Mehdi Daoudi sums it up well in a blog for CatchPoint explaining why users hate ads: “They hate waiting. They hate ads interfering with their user experience. They hate ads eating into their battery life, eating their data plans.” Users don’t intrinsically hate advertisements. We’re used to being surrounded by advertisements every day. Consumers are displeased, however, by poor practices in mobile advertising.

So what are the solutions? How does the mobile advertising industry improve its product so that consumers can be as happy with it as advertisers are? Let’s go back to targeting. Mobile ads offer the advantage of targeting audiences by location or interests. Consumers have their phones on them wherever they go, and a Google study shows that 30 percent of searches are related to location. Make sure you’re targeting the right users in the right places, and you’ll automatically cut down on unwanted clutter.

Speaking of clutter, your advertisements should never overwhelm or cut into the content your readers are trying to reach. The International Advertising Bureau (IAB) gives you a great place to start with its LEAN ads program. LEAN stands for Light, Encrypted, Ad Choice Supported, and Non-Invasive ads. LEAN standards are the IAB’s response to ad blockers, and they provide a great baseline for creating and implementing advertisements your readers will welcome. By keeping your mobile ads light, safe, and easy on the eyes, you help users cut back on battery and data usage, eliminating one of the main irritants that Daoudi describes.

Native advertising provides another solution to better serving your readers. Native advertising is much less invasive, and enables advertisers to appear on various platforms in a less obtrusive way. A study done by IPG Media Lab and Sharethrough shows that consumers are 53 percent more likely to look at a native ad than a traditional display ad. Business Insider even predicted that native advertising will grow from $7.9 billion in 2015 to $21 billion in 2018. Native advertising looks like the next generation of ad tech, and forward-thinking publishers are already leveraging it today.

Mobile advertising is an exceptional way to reach readers and consumers, and thus it’s here to stay. We all know that. But in its relative youth, mobile advertising still gets in its own way sometimes. As we’ve seen, ad blockers don’t exist because there are mobile ads—they exist because there are poorly executed mobile ads. With a little more maturity, mobile ad technology will no doubt keep offering more and smarter ways to bridge that great divide.