Editor’s note: “Mobile Matters” is our ongoing series that features advertising industry leaders sounding off on the top issues, challenges and opportunities in the fast-moving world of mobile marketing.
In this week’s edition of “Mobile Matters” we hear from John SanGiovanni, Co-Founder and VP of Product Design at Zumobi. SanGiovanni, who once performed as a Ninja Turtle at Disney MGM Studios before getting into digital advertising, took on this question: What are three key elements of a successful mobile campaign?
Publishers and brands are just now starting to appreciate the importance of crafting deep brand experiences for mobile users, instead of just slapping a banner onto the bottom of their mobile screens. To me, this means delivering a more native experience, where a brand is woven tightly into the interface in a contextually relevant manner. Now, more than ever, the mobile app landscape is seeing an increased focus on the importance of a personally engaging user experience. Apps must be handcrafted to surprise and delight the user, and integrated advertising units must do the same, too.
Native ads are different from conventional ads in three specific ways:
- They are more organically integrated with the app itself (think beyond the banner)
- They expose more of the phone’s internal features (photo roll, advanced social media, etc.) and
- They provide for much more engaging ad creatives and branded content.
So what does this have to do with Ninja Turtles? My education in user experiences began in a very different way. Long before smartphones, apps, and mobile advertising, I worked for The Walt Disney Company---but not as a technologist. I was a costumed martial arts performer, and my “medium” for user-engagement was Leonardo, the blue-bandana-wearing, katana-wielding, pizza-eating member of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who performed on stage at the Disney MGM Studios in the early ‘90s.
It may sound strange, but many of my core principles around breakthrough mobile user experiences are inspired by the lessons that I learned from Walt Disney’s philosophy for crafting an engaging guest experience at his theme parks. These principles have shaped what we’ve been working on at Zumobi for years. Here are three important ones:
1. Strive to always surprise, delight and engage your online guests
At Disney, you’re not an employee, you’re a “cast member.” You’re not at work; you’re “on stage.” With mobile advertising, we are challenged every day to break out of the 320x50 format cage and express a client’s brand in a way that’s true to their unique values. While banner advertising is an important aspect of advertising, in my opinion it doesn’t often surprise, delight, and engage the user. Tomorrow’s native app-within-an-app experiences will let users make purchases, share user-generated content, photos, and media, and personally engage with social media. As designers, we should strive to channel Walt’s philosophy to create tomorrow’s breakthrough native mobile experiences.
When you’re dressed up in full Ninja Turtle regalia, people can’t see your actual face. However, every emotion, smile, and expression is channeled through the character, and it’s definitely felt by the guests. I believe that the same metaphor applies to software, apps, and mobile brand experiences. The user can’t see the designer, but they can sense the expression that they wore when they handcrafted a given user experience. It’s essential to remember that the passion seeps beyond the confines of an app or campaign, and directly drives engagement.
3. Connect by blurring the lines between content and sponsorship
There’s a yin and a yang to all things, including mobile advertising. In the same way that soft-style kung fu blurs the lines between striking and blocking, good native advertising blurs the lines between content and sponsorship. Have a lifestyle app targeted to mothers? Offer recipe content as part of your campaign. Want to reach potential auto buyers? Offer compelling automotive content in mobile enthusiast sources.
In 2012, we made a half-step in the right direction by adopting rich media advertising. The rich media format was a much-needed upgrade to previous mobile banner styles, but the next phase will be much more dramatic. This year is shaping up to be the year of truly integrated advertising experiences, much to the benefit of publishers, brands, and users. With the most dramatic opportunities still untapped, I’m excited to see our new adventures in mobile.