Users Don’t Want You on Their Mobile Device — Until They Do

The mobile device market will continue to explode, but marketers need to look before they leap. Less than a year ago, marketers were clamoring to develop apps for client brands that wanted to own a space on the consumer’s device. This proved difficult, and large amounts of money were spent on developing and marketing applications that in the end received very few downloads.


  • There are more than two million iTunes and Droid apps, which makes it hard to get noticed.
  • Lack of utility — apps are all about utility for the user, not marketing.
  • Mobile web and responsive design have overcome the limitations for delivering web content on various mobile device screens.

Large app audiences are attractive to marketers, with billions of downloads for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and others. Snapchat grew by 400 million users in less than eight months.

But it’s not about how big the audiences are, it’s about the who, the when, and the device. At the end of the day, relevancy and personalization are the keys to engagement.

So I say: worry less about audience size and a lot more about what your target user is doing with their devices at the time the brand engages.

As marketers, we now have access to an amazing array of devices and data. Never before have we been able to better target, interact and personalize messaging for our brands. This is both a gift and a curse, as it creates a huge number of options and ways to engage.

Remember it’s someone’s “personal” device, not a TV screen.

Fifty-seven percent of U.S. adult smartphone owners who see in-app ads think the ads interrupt their experiences. Only 20 percent of consumers surveyed said mobile ads were relevant to them. (Source: Mobile Marketer)

So how can we not be annoying?

“The role of creative is huge for mobile,” says Jennifer Wise, analyst at Forrester Research. “Our data shows that many customers find mobile ads interruptive, and few find them inventive or creative,” she continued. “To solve this, marketers have to strive to create mobile ads that go way beyond the banner. The best mobile ads will provide relevant messaging, interactivity consistent with the mobile tactile experience, and appear to be seamlessly integrated into the mobile site or app in which they appear.”

There is no easy answer, but the marketing toolbox is growing quickly, and leveraging all of the options and opportunities to engage and be relevant is exciting. My recommendation:

  • Embrace these changes and consider changing the way you budget your media and marketing dollars.
  • Put aside a portion of your media dollars for test and learn programs; challenge your agency to come up with new ideas and creative.
  • Put aside more dollars for managing programs, including optimizations.
  • Put aside more dollars for creative execution.

The only way to succeed is to be more proactive, think through a strategic plan and be more creative in the ways you leverage mobile platforms.