Three Cs rule the mobile ecosystem: content, commerce and connectivity. Mobile content in particular – from how to create and sell it, to where, what and how users are sharing – dominated much of the conversation at last week’s Mobile World Congress.
Ad-blocking received attention from some of the biggest brands in attendance, including Google, Nestle and Yahoo. Perhaps this was no surprise given that the Internet Advertising Bureau this week published new data showing that 1 in 5 internet users now uses ad-blockers, with 26% of these using them on smartphones.
But maybe people wouldn’t want or need to block ads if the ads didn’t disrupt (or outright destroy) their user experience. Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad mobile advertising out there. At MWC, Google said that it blocked around “two million bad creatives per day”.
Advertisers need to rethink ads to ensure quality; publishers and developers should think about user experience not just in terms of reducing quantity, but in making sure they’re non-intrusive.
Meanwhile, from the ad platform and technology side, we need to focus on making sure that sleek, gorgeous ads don’t require massive amounts of data, given that consumers don’t often realise the impact on their data allowances until it’s too late.
Ultimately, making better choices about the frequency, targeting and placement of mobile ads will counteract some of the need for blocking.
There is also a need for education and transparency about the explicit value exchange between users and mobile content creators. Consumers need to understand that ads exist because they’re getting content for free – and mobile publishers should give them the option to pay if they don’t want to see them.
For the most part, people don’t want to pay. In the UK, for example, 62% of mobile users voted in favour of free content with ads versus paying.
There’s also the opportunity to make this value exchange more explicit through ad units themselves. Mobile game and app developers have a unique advantage in this regard, since they’ve been integrating options like rewarded video into their content for years.
Figuring out how to incorporate these kinds of user-initiated ads may be the next step for media companies that want to make the trade-off between quality mobile content and advertising clearer.
Janis Zech is chief operating officer and co-founder of mobile advertising technology company Fyber