Mobile Advertising In 'Perfect Storm' Moment
LOS ANGELES -- It's a "perfect storm" moment for mobile advertising, but those ads must think beyond the banner and dynamically adapt to customers in real time, digital veteran Bill Gross told attendees at the ILM West conference here on Tuesday.
"Ads with code that can change and adapt in a particular situation" will be key, said Gross, the CEO of IdeaLab, a business incubator.
He added that smaller, nimbler players are likelier to get such mobile ads out of the gate first ahead of larger legacy companies.
Citing the power of smartphones as a kind of "remote control that we have in our lives," Gross said that consumers are maturing in their smartphone usage. And reaching such consumers in the evolving world of local search means giving them the most relevant results, not necessarily the most popular ones.
Simply porting billboard ads to mobile will never be effective, Gross said, and is merely clinging to an old model. Rather, he drew on more targeted mobile ad examples, such as being served a pizza ad after a consumer tweets that he's craving pizza, as the way forward.
Such "flash sales" — like being served an ad for a film you've just searched on your smartphone — are far likelier to resonate with consumers, Gross said.
He noted that mobile's inherent advantage is that the consumer has already shifted both in terms of mindset and physical location by the time she is doing a search. This lowers the "nudging cost," Gross added, and "the ad can be served so much closer" to the consumer's readiness to act.
Asked about the inherent privacy concerns around serving ads from consumers' personal data, Gross conceded that clear federal oversight would be necessary. He also suggested that one way to avoid trampling users' privacy would be for the phones themselves to store all personal behavioral data. Ads could essentially float down and synchronize where they contextually fit.
He added that companies moving into such personalized mobile ads also needed to be fully transparent with consumers in how they're using their data. Clear, simple language for consumers and a quickly established set of best practices would be necessary, he said.
But for those companies now emboldened to experiment with their mobile ad models, Gross said the opportunities are historic.