Can Social Networks Ever Make Money On Mobile Ads?

From my Forbes.com blog The New Persuaders:

If there’s one thing that dogs Facebook among investors, it’s whether it can make the leap to mobile devices–and bring its advertising along with it. Although Facebook claims some success with its mobile ads so far, they’re still a relatively small portion of its revenues, and it’s not apparent that it or other social networks can translate their ad formats to small screens where people are way more sensitive about interruptions to their activities.

What Facebook and other social networks from Twitter to Tumblr need to do, according to a panel of marketing folks at MediaPost’s Social Media Insider Summit in Lake Tahoe today, is to realize that they can’t simply slap smaller versions of their display ads onto iPhones and iPads. Instead, they must try to catch people in the moments in between activities on their phones when they’re most receptive to relevant marketing messages.

On the panel were moderator Erik Sass, a reporter at MediaPost; Kate Bare, product manager for innovation at Expedia Media Solutions; Gabriel Cheng, group head of media solutions at Ansible; Chris Cunningham, cofounder and CEO of appssavvy; Cindy Murphy, VP of brand activation at RadiumOne; and Nathaniel Perez, global head of social experience at SapientNitro. Here’s what they think will work (and not work):

Q: What doesn’t work with social advertising on mobile?

Cunningham: Using the same old, same old techniques and trying to apply them to a new medium. We know people ignore ads. This next generation is about people and users.

Murphy: Mobile devices have put people in charge of their experiences. Consumers are not going to engage with the usual (ad) content. It’s also more of a real-time experience.

Perez: Beyond just social and mobile, the rate of change has outpaced marketers’ ability to adapt. Content that’s relevant and delivered in the right way remains key. We have still failed to shift from interruption (marketing) to experiences.

Q: So we need to avoid interrupting the users’ experience. Does that mean mobile display is dead?

Perez: I don’t think you can write it off. It’s about delivering relevance in the moment. The real problem isn’t about screen size and layout.

Cunningham: Display today and how the ad networks are selling it (is the wrong way). We have to go back to big, beautiful ads. People are scared to interact with ads because they might be taken away. There are natural breaks in television, and you know it’s going to come. You can find natural breaks in mobile too–such as between levels of a game. They can be in the form of a large, beautiful ad. …

Read the complete post at The New Persuaders.

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