Blue chip brand advertisers have been inching towards in-app and in-game inventory for years. In this episode of Out of the Box, Daniel Sichel, Mobile and Digital Lead at global agency Mindshare, share how he helps his brand advertiser clients understand the potential impact advertising in apps can have on their bottom line - addressing their main challenges in making the transition, as well as his thoughts for solving them.

Listen now or read the edited highlights below. 

Blue chip brands and in-app advertising 

“At Mindshare, the brands we work with are big blue chip brands who’ve been around decades, so they’re very used to and comfortable with investing in traditional media, from TV and radio to traditional digital areas, such as display, search and social. 

So this newer area in mobile is something they’ve not really considered before. There’s so many different aspects to it - not just advertising in-app but how we use data, identify new audiences and so on. There’s so many unknowns for some blue chip brands about mobile app advertising - the education gap means some don’t invest as much as they should be in mobile.”

Who's really playing games?

“The source of this hesitation among blue chip brands, specifically with regards to mobile gaming advertising, is this traditional taboo against gaming. I’ve had so many responses from brands saying “the only people who play games are children and young parents. 

The unknown is who the audiences are across these environments, and understanding how they’re relevant. 

If we can’t communicate to our clients on the relevancy of what’s available across mobile, they’re never going to want to get on board.”

Proving the relevance of mobile to brands

“One way is proving the audiences we’re looking to target for these brands are available across the mobile environments. Another is showing why it’s effective advertising to people at those moments within apps or games. 

Accountability and measured engagement haven’t been as big a part of the conversation with blue chip brands as you might think. The conversations we have with them versus mobile native platforms like ironSource are very different. 

For blue chip brands, brand advertising is very important and we invest heavily in channels like TV, where measurement is difficult. With digital advertising, over the last five years there’s been a rising focus on performance measurement, but you see the language is different. The brands are coming from a very different place (compared to mobile native ad platforms) - you have to adapt your language and explain the mobile opportunity in a different way to them.

For example, we invest heavily in contextually relevant environments, and when doing so we expect to reach highly engaged audiences. For me, I start the conversation [with traditional brands regarding mobile] here - explaining the opportunity mobile presents to also reach highly engaged audiences, and demonstrate that their target audience is playing this game and will watch your ad. So it becomes less about the install that may happen, and tailoring it to brands’ desire for the right people to watch their ads.

There needs to be a bridge that plugs the gap between the conversations we have with our mobile clients who are really focused on what's the ROI on all ad spend, to traditional brands where that is a harder question to ask.”

The COVID impact on brands and their apps

“What we’ve seen is that brands are no longer seeing audiences engage with them offline as they had done previously, and have realized what apps can offer them. 

Apps are a two way communication between consumers and the brand. Brands can learn how users interact with their app. And consumers can get more personalized experiences in turn. 

For brick and mortar brands like BP, M&S, KFC, pre-COVID, loyalty would have been about offline engagement, people coming into their stores regularly. Now we’re seeing loyalty means something different, how people are engaged in digital environments.

Apps provide a way for brands to convey their convenience to users and reach users at new moments through their phones.”

Powerful mobile ad experiences for users

“A great example is customizable in-app video formats for automobile brands; allowing users to customize cars, experience inside the car, flip it round, etc. This is even stronger than what’s possible on social channels (e.g. Facebook’s 360 format). Brands are starting to see the value of the formats available on mobile apps and games. 

Car brands really see user intent if they see a mobile user testing out their models and customizing them, in the same way a real life test drive would show intent. 

Being able to do this in an ad format has been great and we’ll see more brands investing in new ad formats where users can show intent in their journey.”

Gaps to fill

“Contextual relevance is a gap in general in the industry. Who’s responsible for coming to us as an agency with contextually relevant in-app or game inventories? It’s unlikely we’ll reach out to specific apps … what we’re expecting is the same as the desktop space: programmatically available in-app inventory that’s contextually relevant for our brands. I’ve not seen any partners come to us with this offering. We’d see a shift in thinking from many traditional brands if this was available.”

Building trust between mobile-first partners and traditional brands, removing the issues around brand safety, and contextual relevance - that needs to be the biggest development.”

Let's put these tips to good use

Promote your app directly on devices with Aura