By Tom Aschauer, Executive Creative Director
Smartphones. Great for many things, just maybe not advertising.
We call them smartphones, but they’re really smart devices, because they do a heck of a lot more than just make phone calls. We text with them. We check email with them. We play games with them. We surf the Web with them. We use them for all sorts of stuff. In 2012, Nielsen told us that on average, we had 41 apps on our smartphone, and that was 28 percent increase from the year before.
With all the time we spend with our smartphones, it’s only natural that mobile marketers will tell you that you need to spend more money on mobile — that it’s the key to your customer’s soul. And it maybe it is, but you need to spend your money wisely. And while advertising may be the most obvious solution, it’s probably not the smartest.
The smartphone is not a passive device. It’s not like sitting in front of a TV and being delivered a 30-second message. Remember, we’ve got 41 different apps on there. We’re texting, surfing, playing, searching, buying and watching videos. We’re trying to do stuff, and then all of a sudden, up pops an ad about the size of a 10-year-old’s pinky asking us if we’d like to refinance our mortgage.
Is there any wonder that four out of five people report disliking them, with only 20 percent saying advertising on a smartphone is acceptable?
Geofencing is certainly one way to talk to your customers when they’re nearby, and maybe it’s more effective — but just because I’m walking by a Shoe Carnival doesn’t mean that if I’m served an ad, I’m going to go in.
A better idea is to use the smartphone for what’s it’s best at.
It’s a screen. Granted, not a very big one, but then why limit yourself even more by being given only one-tenth of its surface for interaction with your customer?
Remember what Apple told us almost three years ago (a lifetime in today’s quick moving world): “There’s an app for that.” And if there isn’t one, in all likelihood, your customers are probably wondering why not. If they’re willing to give you their entire screen, why not take advantage of it?
Build a better relationship with them. Give them a reason to interact with you. Tesco did it with its virtual subway store. Did it serve up a pinky-sized ad saying, “Meat now 20 percent off”? No, it built an app that allowed its customers to shop while they were waiting in the subway, with their grocery purchases arriving home that not long after they did. It made itself the No. 1 online grocery shopping choice in its market.
Am I saying you should never, ever use smartphones for advertising? No. There are times when it’s appropriate. I’m just saying use them wisely. Or should I say, “smartly.”