Tag Archives: AdAge

Make ’em watch! How to make money with mobile ads.


I was reading an article in AdAge this morning about how mobile is overtaking TV in terms of the amount of time spent on each.

The article reviewed this trend, and specifically examined the disconnect between the amount of time spent and the amount of revenue generated on mobile.

What should otherwise be a boon for mobile advertisers, is actually something of a conundrum, as marketers have yet to figure out how to translate the time (spent on mobile) into revenue.

Since mobile has less real estate to work with, embedding ads that are visible and compelling is a challenge.

Moreover, convincing advertisers to switch from TV to mobile, in the absence of empirical support for that reallocation is a hard sell.

But all is not lost.

If mobile advertisers are looking for ways to increase click-through rates (I know click-through rates aren’t really for mobile – bear with me), there is a fool proof strategy they can employ.

Force users to watch their ads.

That’s right, I said force.

Sure, no one asked me my opinion, but I’m going to give it anyway.

Advertisers need to use more video on mobile and make people watch.

And do away with static ads altogether.


I’ll tell ya.

Now gather round…

I’ve found that the most effective ads on mobile are video ads.

And the most effective video ads are the ones which don’t give you the option of canceling or closing them until they’re done.

The next most effective are those that give you a time-delayed option, before revealing your opt-out option (the little “x” on the screen).

Efficacy in Stephen’s world is defined by users viewing (and not automatically canceling) an ad in its entirety.

YouTube uses these “mandatory watch” and “time-delayed skip” options effectively in their videos, and mobile advertisers would be well advised to model their behavior.

In addition, mobile advertisers need to adopt a “takeover” mentality.

If they’re going to serve an ad, serve it.

Don’t be shy about taking over the user’s screen.

While most would agree that users don’t want ads and pop ups, few would argue that ads and pop ups are an interruption that people have come to tolerate and accept.

Take me for instance.

I play solitaire on my iPhone all the time.

It’s a free version, so between every hand, there’s an ad.

Most are simple overlays or pop ups, advertising other games or apps, that I close almost reflexively.

But increasingly, the ads being served are videos from car makers, insurance carriers, and the like.

And they employ both mandatory and time delayed opt-out watch options.

Generally, ads are no longer than fifteen seconds (which seems like an eternity when I’m trying to get to my next hand) seem to offend me the least.

I find myself sitting patiently through them until either (a) they’re done or (b) that little black “x” appears on the screen.

Sometimes, I’ll watch until the “x”‘appears.

At others, if its engaging, I’ll watch all the way to the end.

And every so often (and this is rare) I’ll actually respond to the call to action or follow the link at the end.

I’m sure I’m like most people.

If the content is good, I’ll watch, read or listen to an ad without objection.

If its crap, I’ll skip it.

The issue (for me) is both form and substance.

So (in my opinion) the objective for marketers trying to drive engagement and conversions with mobile ads is twofold: (1) make interesting engaging ads, preferably video, and (2) force people to watch by adding time delayed (or no) opt-out options.

Now we could go deeper down the rabbit hole (as AdAge does) to explore the differences between serving ads in apps versus ads in mobile web, but that’s for the Master Class.

Suffice it to say, applying desktop rules of engagement for mobile ads is a losing strategy, and brands would do well to rethink how they’re targeting mobile users.

Or simply hire me.

Leave a comment

Filed under mobile, mobile ads

Why I never attend CES. Confessions of a gadget addict.

How Inspector Gadget must have suffered!

How Inspector Gadget must have suffered!

Gadgetaholic (noun) one who suffers from an addiction to gadgets.

I am an admitted gadgetaholic.

Ok, ok. There’s no such word as gadgetaholic.

But there should be.

I’m addicted to gadgets.

If it beeps, buzzes, chirps or tweets, I’ve got to have it.

I can’t even help myself.

On any given occasion, I’ve got a gagillion different gadgets in rotation.

Mobile phones, tablets, laptops, mp3 players, remotes, wireless keyboards, clickers, battery packs, you name it.

If it’s got a modicum of utility, I’ve owned it – or coveted it.

I’ve been hooked on gadgets for so long, I can’t even tell you when it first started.

With my obsession for gadgets, one would think that the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was Shangri-La for someone like me.

But it’s quite the opposite.

I can’t stand CES.

All those companies, congregating, with all their unreleased wares for show.

It’s all too much.

It’s so bad that during the CES week, I just go radio silent.

I ignore all CES related updates.

I pay attention to none of the information that streams out of TechCrunch, cNet, AdAge, Engadget, et als during the week.

I want none of it.

And do you know why?


At times, I’ve gone a bit…overboard…with my….


There, I’ve siad it.

My closet (several of my closets) are stuffed with gadgets past.

Dust laden boxes of this portable satellite radio…

Or that digital recorder…

Or some unused thingamajig or doohickey.

But do you know what it’s like to be a gearhead, but not be able to cop the latest technological wares?

Or see bright shiny object, and have to walk away from it?

It’s torture! That’s what!

And they’re not just any old shiny objects, mind you.

They’re shiny objects created by cats who are more tech obsessed than I.

Which means they’re reaallllyyyy cool!

I mean, have you seen some of this stuff?

CES Samsung Flexible screen 660

Flexible touch screens.


Smartphone watches.


E-ink smartphone displays.

Yum. Yum. Yum!

But what good is all this scrumptious technology if I can’t have any of it?

99% of the items at CES are concept items=not for sale.

The stuff that is for sale is too expensive to buy (or shit I dont want).

My urge to possess said stuff would drive me to straight thuggery.

And how would I look robbing these good white folk for their goodies?

I don’t think a stick-up at CES would go unnoticed.

So every year, I resign myself to keeping my addicted ass in Jersey, while CES goes on without me.

And that’s a good thing.

No one wants to see a grown-ass man, drooling like a rabid dog.

Flitting from thing to thing like a hopped up kid with ADD.

One day, I might get my addiction under control.

But for the time being, I’ll treat CES like a watering hole to be avoided at all costs.

And take my recovery one day at a time.


Filed under Smack talking

Made In America (the movie). How agencies, brands and hip hop are a formula for success

Photo Credit: RocNation.com

I just read an article  in AdAge, about Budweiser, Translation and Jay Z partnering up to produce a movie.

My first reaction was “that shit is sick!” (sick=great for my linguistically slang challenged readers).

What’s so sick about it, for one, are the straight macks behind it: Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Steve Stout, Jay Z – all titans of their respective fields.

But what’s even sicker is that Budweiser (aka deeeeep pockets) is the driving force behind it.

Who would have thought that combining a beverage brand, an advertising and a hip hop mogul would have made such perfect sense?

Me.  Been trying to do it for years.

But I digress.

Mind you, this is not the first time this combination has come together.

Master of the Mix, the reality show on Centric, was a combined effort of Smirnoff/Diageo (brand), GTM (an Atlanta-based PR/creative agency), Just Blaze and Kid Capri (hip hop).

Smirnoff/Diageo bankrolled the production of the series, which successfully married liquor, celebrity and hip hop in what has become a flagship show for the network.

But there’s a marked difference between a television show on a minor network (don’t be mad Centric, but you’re not BET, which isn’t Viacom) and a feature length film with national/international distribution.

And while Kid Capri, Just Blaze, Biz Markie, and the host of DJs that were contestants on the show, made it one of the most highly rated shows in Centric/BET’s history, it really pales in comparison to Budweiser’s planned effort with Jay Z.

The movie will focus on two days of the Budweiser Made In America concert festival, in mid-September, when Jay Z and 25 hip hop and electronic music artists hit the stage.

In addition to Jay Z, the line-up includes Drake, Rick Ross, Wale, Janelle Monae, and Jill Scott.

You’ve probably already seen the ads featuring Jay Z, promoting the event.

And with the sheer star power of the backers and participants, it’s sure to be a blockbuster.

But it’s also probably going to be a serious piece or art, as well.

There’s talk about submitting the film to festivals, and Ron Howard ain’t no slouch, so I’m very interested to see what the narrative of the movie will ultimately be.

I can already see the film taking on a Decoded type of feel, with Jay Z narrating the lead-up to the event, and the cameras following him, and the various players as they make their way to and from the stage.

I wonder if they’re going to produce an app for it like they did for Decoded.

Steve Stout, get at me! I’m your guy if you want to talk integrated mobile strategy.

I’m definitely keeping an eye out for this, and will update you with anything I learn about it as it comes together.

Leave a comment

Filed under branding, music

The Importance of Convergence: Social Media and Mobile

Social media plus mobile equals audience.

One of the strategies I advocate when meeting with clients, is implementing social media and mobile into their marketing efforts.

Mobile and social media are so ubiquitous, that I routinely counsel my clients to incorporate them with all deliberate speed.

For the select few that truly comprehend their importance, they’ve become a primary approach to reaching their target audiences.

For others, social media and mobile are part of a long-term strategy, that they understand needs to be implemented, even if they don’t immediately ‘get it.’

From the technical to the ergonomic, the aesthetic and interoperability standpoints, mobile and social media represent an unprecedented amount of bang for the buck.

You get a far greater ROI utilizing social media and mobile, than virtually any other medium.

More importantly, mobile and social media have an inherent metrics-based foundation, making them the perfect tool to query your database for useful and immediately applicable information.

One of the key virtues of mobile and social media, is the fact that they provide a point of convergence for a brand’s marketing efforts.

Instead of having to develop separate and distinct campaigns for each medium, you can structure one comprehensive campaign, that incorporates the fact that it will be deployed across several mediums simultaneously.

If you read Mobile Marketer or Advertising Age or any of a number of progressive on or offline marketing publications, you’ll see this trend is growing.

As the Obama campaign made clear, the social media and mobile platforms are the standard for galvanizing support around your candidate, product or brand.

I’m sure that there are many who still doubt the veracity of my position, but alas, you may lead a horse to water…

I’ll post updates about the brands that I’m working with, paying specific attention to how they are utilizing social media and mobile to expand the breadth and scope of their respective messages.

Over time, I’m sure, almost every brand will have some form of social media and mobile presence.

Those that don’t, I fear, may go the way of the dinosaurs.


Filed under branding