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Rewriting The New Normal For Advertising

Brands must find new ways to connect with this digital-dependent audience, and a big part of the solution lies in mobile

Photo by Derick Anies on Unsplash

Author, Tom Simpson

The global pandemic has had a significant impact on our economy, society, and way of life. When it comes to business, many are adopting new models and finding new ways to ensure business continuity, resulting in a spike in crisis-inspired innovations over the past few months. With people spending more time at home, the reality now is that we have made digital our window to the world. 

Brands must find new ways to connect with this digital-dependent audience, and a big part of the solution lies in mobile, specifically around mobile gaming.

In a recent study, 84 percent of respondents said more time at home has resulted in them spending additional time on their smartphones. Is this the perfect time for brands to leverage mobile as a primary channel in their customer engagement campaigns? From targeting parameters to ad formats, aligning campaign strategies with mobile in mind can generate awareness and give brands a chance to display empathy but also provide a whole new avenue to better engage consumers in the long run.

Game on the at-home consumers. Research on at-home consumers across the Asia-Pacific region over the pandemic period shows 40 percent are playing more mobile games. The same study also found that 1 in 4 Gen Z and Millennials see playing more games as a permanent change in their lifestyle, with 1.2 billion gaming apps downloaded in the last 30 days, more than any other app category including tools, social and entertainment apps.

This makes it a perfect time to connect with consumers using gaming as a channel, and also necessitates the re-examination of the purchase journey for the at-home consumer – from ‘Attention’ to ‘Retention’. Brands looking to take users beyond the first phase and engage them more deeply should experiment with new formats. This can be taken one step further by incorporating gamification and value exchange advertising into their media mix.

It’s important to remember when considering this that consumers have never had more time to spend with your brand or product online than today. Provide them with compelling, interesting and engaging creative content experiences and they will invest time with you. Now is not the time for flat, static ad experiences.

Gamification, for example, may take shape as advertisements that replicate popular activities such as football, swimming, and archery, to reimagining tap-tap musical challenges. The integration of gaming and advertising in real-time is proven to be a game-changer, with nearly six percent higher engagement than non-gaming ads, and 28.8 per cent click-through rate (CTR) – a vast increase over the 3.9 per cent CTR of standard advertising

What’s more, taking advantage of mobile gaming as a channel allows for rewarded (sometimes referred to as value-exchange) ad placements which give users the choice to exchange their attention for in-app rewards. Users who choose to opt in to view the ad have been shown to have a positive effect on conversion rates.

Once brands move past the ‘Consideration’ phase, it’s time to take it to the next level and focus on ‘Conversion’. Driving engagement can come in the form of panoramic end cards to heighten awareness while providing an informative, compelling experience. Another point that bears highlighting is that  90 per cent of users in the region prefer interactive ad formats more than any other type. 

An example in the context of a campaign promoting a new online streaming series would be an end card where users are prompted to tilt their mobile phones to scroll through the five featured characters and tap on any of the hotspots for an embedded video snippet and to find out more. This type of immersive experience serves to invest audiences in the characters even before watching the show and then drives immediately into the app for conversion.

Staying in touch with consumers. In the ‘Retention’ phase, the focus is on communicating availability and readiness for existing customers in times of crisis. Understanding evolving consumer needs and connecting that with creative to find formats and messaging that resonates right now, such as socially connected stories, in-video coupons or interactive swipe unveilings for new products is crucial. Trust that such a system can ultimately encourage other users – new consumers – to join in your conversation.

Smart connections with e-commerce are a key part of the ‘Retention’ cycle. As of March 2020, consumers in Singapore reported spending more on online grocery shopping and food delivery services as these become the primary mode of purchase for many. There’s an opportunity for brands to look at programmatically delivering custom videos and dynamic creative messages to their target audience sub-segments based around e-commerce data to achieve personalised, relevant, and compelling communications.

We have now come full circle. 

Move with consumers. In a time of ever-changing circumstances, analysing consumer behaviour gives brands a grasp of not just changes in consumers’ individual habits at a micro level, but also a perspective to gain visibility into the macro forces driving such change in consumers.

The digital transformation journey is constantly unfolding, never-ending, but most importantly–as recent events have made clear–completely inescapable. It calls for nimble, agile and bold measures backed up by a solid foundation of learning from both past successes and failures. Brands that double down on their customers, continue to empathise, engage and evolve with them in emerging digital channels that are as varied and fluid as the times we live in, have a once in a generation opportunity for growth. Brands that fail to transform digitally won’t see another generation.

Tom Simpson is the SVP, APAC at AdColony.

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