Conversatiated: Mobile Ad Evolution

In our regular installment of Conversatiated, two Media Logicians share an ongoing dialogue about marketing issues and challenges in a conversation-centric world.


Conversatiated: Trust Barometer. Graphic showing Josh Martin avatar.Hey Fred, I was recently doing my daily perusal of The New York Times online (in my infinite quest to look cultured and smart) and came across this article: “Is the Day of Tiny Ads Finally Here?” In a nutshell, the author surmises that due to recent technology introductions – like the iPad and the Droid – marketers will begin to spend more dollars on mobile advertising, specifically purchasing mobile banner ad units.

Are we about to go through this again? Haven’t we learned from a decade-plus of web banner ads that the banner ad unit is a flawed advertising vehicle? It is disruptive in the wrong way, pulling consumers from the content they seek and dropping them elsewhere; and is often hijacked by marketers pushing messages unrelated to the desired content consumers have sought. As marketers, we’d be doing a disservice to advertisers if we tried to repackage this marketing tactic. We are still in the relative infancy of mass adoption of mobile devices. We still have the opportunity to get it right.

I think the author is missing the true advantages that mobile technologies offer marketers. As we move forward, shouldn’t the keyword be VALUE? Instead of “ads,” we need to help our clients develop applications and tools that offer value to consumers – that help augment their lifestyles, their day-to-day. This idea of finding a way to evolve web banner ads into mobile banner ads seems crazy to me. What do you think?


Conversatiated: Trust Barometer. Graphic showing Fred Urlich avatar.You’ve got a good point Josh, but I think what the “analysis” from the article is trying to say is that the banner ad is not really good enough for the iPad and the Droid, and that marketers may need to invent new ad units. Of course, this ignores the fact that I already have tiny ads on my mobile device – there’s one for Target, The Home Depot, Sears,, ESPN, The New York Times, NPR, FedEx, my bank and my insurance company. These are the apps that you alluded to above.

And if we view apps as ads, then what’s missing is not only the value piece that you mention, but RELEVANCE and the ability to bridge the divide between my traditional online behavior and my mobile app usage. Right now these two ways that I interact with brands exist mostly in silos which misses a huge opportunity to give me the most relevant and targeted content in both channels.

Instead of inventing a new ad unit, marketers and media companies might be better served by thinking up a way to integrate these channels. The companies that come out on top won’t be the ones that find the perfect tiny ad, it’ll be the ones that figure out how to connect all the ways we already interact with their brand.

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