How to maximise mobile engagement

Mobile ad spend in the UK overtook online display for the first time this year, and mobile technology is evolving quickly to respond to the demand.

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PepsiCo created a Snapchat ‘lens’ to promote its Lay’s crisp brand during the UEFA Champions League.

Research released by the IAB in October confirmed that we have reached a tipping point in mobile advertising. Its figures show the amount spent on mobile display ads in the UK (£802m) overtook that of desktop and tablet display (£762m) for the first time during the first six months of 2016. In total, mobile ad spend rose by 56.1% during the period so that 36p in every £1 spent on digital advertising now goes to mobile.

Despite this rush to mobile, there are many tactical pitfalls for marketers to navigate. Advertisers are presented with a huge array of mobile ad formats to choose from, not all of which are suitable to their brand or target audience. Furthermore, brands must avoid annoying their customers by presenting them with irrelevant content or by interrupting their mobile experiences.

Snapchat believes it has hit upon a solution by developing a series of ad formats that require consumers to actively engage with them, rather than having content pushed at them. Last month, the platform announced that New Look was the first UK brand to use its ‘Snapcode geofilter’, an ad format that allows consumers to unlock sponsored content when they point their camera at in-store displays.

Meanwhile, PepsiCo created a unique Snapchat ‘lens’ for a Europe-wide campaign to promote its Lay’s crisp brand during the UEFA Champions League earlier this year. The campaign partly involved asking consumers to upload selfies showing them posing with special packs of Lay’s for the chance to win Champions League prizes. In addition, it encouraged people to use the lens and overlay their Snapchat images with Lay’s designs, as well as animations such as beards and face paint.

PepsiCo’s digital lead for the Champions League Aman Matharu says the company opted to create a Snapchat lens “to give fans multiple choices and ways to express themselves in a fun, disruptive and engaging way”. The company reports that more than 17,000 people submitted selfies to Lay’s as a part of the campaign, and that it saw further engagement beyond these submissions.

We believe that brands who offer experiences over just ads can drive deeper brand engagement.

Peter Robb, Continental Tyres

“We have had millions of people interacting with the Lay’s lens across Europe and the results were significantly higher than the Snapchat benchmarks,” claims Matharu. “We were encouraged by the cost-effective reach, engagement rates and dwell time of users playing with the lens and sharing.”

Reaching young consumers

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Other brands seek to encourage mobile engagement as a way of reaching a young audience. In September, Time Inc’s music magazine NME ran a partnership with Google in which it encouraged readers to take a virtual reality (VR) experience inside the iconic Abbey Road Studios. The tie-up involved giving away 80,000 Google Cardboard VR viewers for free with the magazine while running content that promoted the Inside Abbey Road app to readers.

Romano Sidoli, managing director of the UK innovation group at Time Inc, explains that the project was part of a wider strategy by the magazine to reach a younger audience after NME rebranded to become a free publication last year. “We need to be able to deliver for an audience that is still engaged with print but no longer sees it as the beginning and end of their journey,” he says.

“I’m not forward-thinking enough to know whether VR is definitely the next big thing, but it’s important for a youth-oriented brand to always be involved in new things.”

READ MORE: Is the future of virtual reality mixed?

Sidoli claims NME was an attractive option for Google because the magazine’s free distribution and presence on university campuses gives it strong reach among a young audience. In addition to setting up co-branded distribution stands across the country, the two companies ran an experiential installation at London’s King’s Cross station over three days at the end of September.

This received 10,000 visitors in total, while NME’s weekly circulation rose from an average of 308,000 to 370,000 in the week that the Cardboard viewers were given away.

Sidoli notes that in addition to engaging readers on their smartphones, such projects allow NME to expand its reach beyond music journalism and position itself as a youth-oriented lifestyle brand that is potentially more attractive to a broader sweep of advertisers.

It’s important for a youth-oriented brand to always be involved in new things.

Romano Sidoli, Time Inc

“It puts a spotlight on the brand for doing it in the first place,” he says. “It feels like the sort of thing we should be doing.”

Creating an experience

At other times, outdoor advertising is an important means of encouraging consumers to engage with content on their phones. To mark its sponsorship of the UEFA Euro 2016 football tournament this summer, Continental Tyres launched a digital out-of-home campaign across 2,000 sites, including London Waterloo train station and on screens in sports bars across the UK.

The campaign, produced by outdoor agency Grand Visual, involved asking tournament-related quiz questions on Twitter while displaying the responses in real-time on the screens. Continental Tyres also worked with football statistics site Squawka to present real-time match data throughout the course of the campaign.

READ MORE: How OOH advertising is moving beyond awareness

Peter Robb, marketing communications manager at Continental Tyres, says that encouraging mobile engagement was a key goal during the campaign. “Second-screening is prevalent in every area of our lives and we wanted Continental Tyres to be front of mind as fans travelled and engaged with Euro 2016,” he says.

“This was a great way to capture the excitement and anticipation of the game, while involving fans in the campaign itself by asking them to tweet about the tournament to win tickets.”

Robb reports that the campaign received more than 131,000 engagements during the course of the tournament, including 8,000 competition entries. Reflecting on the role of mobile in sponsorship campaigns, he confirms that generating interactions – rather than simply pushing content – is an important consideration.

“We believe that brands which offer experiences over ads can drive deeper brand engagement,” says Robb. “This was proven through the results and data and most importantly we were able to be part of the Euro 2016 conversation.”

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