Christmas campaigns failing to engage on mobile

Despite the growing importance of mobile, almost half of mobile users claim not to have seen a single Christmas ad.


Almost half (44%) of mobile users claim not to have seen a single Christmas ad, despite the fact that almost £5.6bn will be spent on marketing over the festive season, according to new data from TubeMogul. Among the wider population this figure falls to just 30%.

Having polled 3,200 UK mobile users, the data found TV accounts for the vast majority of views, at 55%, ahead of social media on 17%. Just 14% say they have seen a Christmas ad on mobile, which is just ahead of desktop viewings on 14%.

The figures suggest brands are failing to engage with consumers on mobile at Christmas, with 77% of the respondents stating they “don’t like or enjoy mobile Christmas ads”. This data is particular a concern given media consumption on mobile and mobile ad spend continue to grow.

According to stats from eMarketer, consumers are spending 2 hours and 40 minutes a day on their mobile for non-voice reasons, putting it behind TV on 3 hours and six minutes. Yet by 2018, eMarketer predicts that pattern will have shifted so mobile accounts for more time spent. Altogether, digital accounts for 5 hours and 17 minutes.

Shorter attention spans

The biggest issue, according to TubeMogul, is that brands are failing to tailor their festive campaigns to mediums other than TV. While the traditional 30-second (or longer) spot works well on TV, it often doesn’t translate to mobile where viewers have much shorter attention spans.

TubeMogul’s executive creative director Jeff Parrish cites the example of H&M’s Christmas ad, which survey respondents said they enjoyed but didn’t realise was for the H&M brand, with the logo payoff only coming right at the end.

“It’s a challenge for placement on social networks were advertisers have just a few seconds to grab attention before fingers swipe down a news feed. Style is wonderful in the right environment, but it sucks data and ask too much of mobile users who want quick, fast content if they are on-the-go,” he explains.

The data does not suggest that brands should stop focusing on TV or stop creating entertaining ads. The TubeMogul survey revealed that John Lewis’s upbeat tale of Buster the Boxer dominated recall and favourability among UK consumers, with 29% liking it or recalling it. But it does suggest brands need to start taking a more cross-screen approach.

“If attribution and measurement is the name of the game in 2017, advertisers are going to have to take a more cross-screen approach to campaign activity moving forward,” says Parrish.

“We will only get consumers to care about Christmas ads if we, as an industry, begin to care about how they want to enjoy them.”

Making mobile interesting

Both Facebook and Instagram have repeatedly spoken about the need for brands to get their message and branding into the first three seconds of an ad. Yet some marketers have admitted they are unsure how to get mobile video right.

READ MORE: Two-thirds of marketers can’t measure ROI on mobile

Speaking to Marketing Week recently, Nestle’s head of marketing and consumer communications Tom Buday admitted that simply taking TV ads and putting them online “often doesn’t work”. But also that the brand is still working out what works best for video on mobile.

Meanwhile, a recent survey from Forrester found two-thirds of marketers can’t measure ROI on mobile and just 27% say their mobile campaigns are profitable. This could be another reason why many marketers may be unwilling to create content specifically for mobile, particularly at Christmas.

Hide Comments3 Show Comments
  • John O'Connor 12 Dec 2016 at 4:11 pm

    Irritating not Engaging – Not only are brands failing to tailor their festive campaigns to mediums other than TV – more importantly, they are failing to deliver the message when it is relevant

  • Craig 14 Dec 2016 at 10:34 am

    Just a heads up – the link to the article from Nestle about putting tv ads online and how they dont work, is pointing at your staging server…!

    • Sarah Vizard 14 Dec 2016 at 10:37 am

      Thanks for spotting! We’ve sorted that now.

  • Post a comment

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