March 25, 2014, 3:37 PM

Content is still king: recommendations for creating compelling mobile ads

All advertising must be compelling to work. And in the constrained environment of a mobile device, ads must be especially riveting.

Developing compelling advertising creative is key in all forms of marketing. For mobile, creative development has to be done for an extremely constrained environment, which makes it all the more important to set clear goals and communicate in an efficient way. Here are some tips that will help you with your mobile creative efforts.

Focus on the mobile value proposition

Consumers are busy. They have more options than ever before, from streaming video services on their televisions to mobile apps on their phones and tablets, competition for a consumer’s time and attention has never been more fierce. We all know that in order to reach potential customers effectively, marketers must provide them with compelling messaging, presented in a compelling way. This approach is the foundation of great advertising.

But what if you need to do even better? Marketers who want (or need) to maximize the mobile channel and get breakthrough results must focus on mobile specific value propositions. After running thousands of campaigns across hundreds of customers, the results we’ve seen at TapSense remain the same. A mobile-specific value proposition will consistently outperform all other messaging. For marketers who want to take advantage of this learning, we’ve developed the following framework to apply to creative development.

Mobile-specific value propositions can be categorized into these three use cases:

Local and geo:

Geolocation tasks and access to relevant local content is the most highly valued by all mobile users. It’s also the only category where the mobile device is sometimes the only way to perform the task. An example of this would be a real estate, restaurant, or mapping app that has a “Search Near Me” function. Focusing on this value proposition in your marketing will add a significant layer of urgency.


The smartphone is great for micro-tasking, reading e-mails, sending texts and checking a calendar. Mobile users will value anything that helps make completing a micro-task easier. A click-to-call function, an add-to-calendar button, or even a “Download App” message can be very useful. Mobile users respond well to value added functionality or messaging that helps them accomplish a task more quickly and easily.

Minutes to spare:

Mobile users love distractions when they’re waiting for a bus or train, are commuting, or in a store checkout line. Promoting games, puzzles, news, stock quotes, or celebrity gossip works really well in this use case. Even associating a product or service with a simple and fun distraction can help increase mobile marketing performance. B2B marketers can also take advantage of this. They can advertise free downloads, like whitepapers, that can be sent to another channel for consumption later.

If you’re product doesn’t have a strong mobile-specific value proposition, you may want to seriously consider developing one. Mobile users need to see real value in taking action on mobile. Building the right strategy that will work in mobile is key. It also should be determined before investing heavily in mobile as a marketing channel.

Some other tips to consider:

Time your creative to match real-world events

Providing real-world context to marketing messaging is a tried and true approach that consistently tests well. Holidays, seasons, and large industry-focused events are good examples.

Provide value in the call to action

With limited space and short attention spans, providing value in the call to action is a good way to help convert users to customers. Some examples include download now, download free, or free shipping.

Avoid analogies and narratives

Analogies and narratives are terrible for mobile creative. They’re hard to understand, take too much time to read, and force the mobile users to think too much about the messaging.

Promote entry-level products, services or offers

Ads with entry level items will convert best with new users. Use sales data to identify the entry level items you can focus on, and push them heavily.

Go for volume, but maintain a baseline of quality

Creative burns out fast in digital, and even faster in mobile. Develop lots of creative, keep it fresh and interesting, but be sure to maintain a baseline of quality.

Keep text short and concise

Good writing that’s simple, effective and to the point will get the best results.

For more on mobile marketing trends and best practices for smartphone app marketing, download the TapSense eBook, A Complete Guide to Mobile Marketing for 2014.

TapSense is a provider of mobile marketing technology.

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