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Mobile rich media achieves 2.5 times higher interaction than standard banners: MMF panel

LOS ANGELES ? Mobile rich media can be an incredibly immersive experience, but can also be considered intrusive by consumers if the ads are served at the wrong time, per panelists at the Mobile Marketing Association?s Mobile Marketing Forum.

By definition, mobile rich media consists of advertisements that often include interactive graphics, audio or video within an expandable ad or full-screen takeover. Unlike static or animated banner advertisements, rich media enables users to interact with the banner without leaving the page on which it appears.

?As a marketer, Microsoft looks at rich media as a broad way of saying immersive brand experience,? said Barbara Williams, global practice leader of mobile marketing at Microsoft, Redmond, WA. 

?Rich media is anything within an ad experience that takes the advertisement beyond a static banner that lands on a mobile Web page,? she said.

?It?s a broad term but it comes down to immersive brand experiences.?

Opportunities/challenges
When done correctly, rich media can be a valuable experience to consumers.

But, when not done right, it can bring a negative impact on the brand and can be considered very intrusive.

?There are good and bad examples of how users react to rich media,? said Stephanie Vautravers, director of mobile advertising at CNN, Atlanta. ?So if you get a text alert for some breaking news and click to go and find out more, we won?t serve an ad because that could annoy the user that is trying to get this information now.

?They want to see that news item so we won?t interrupt that,? she said.

It is very important to think through users? navigation. Where are they going? What are they doing at this particular destination (mobile site or app) and then decide when it would be best to serve up an ad.

Ms. Williams said that Microsoft is currently running a mobile rich-media campaign that leads to an HTML5 site.

?We are seeing a 5 percent click through on that rich media unit,? Ms. Williams said. ?The is a huge impact and we are seeing that we can push campaign objectives within the ad unit.?

Rich media instead of Web?
CNN's Ms. Vautravers said that she is surprised about how many advertising clients do not have a mobile site.

Many think that because rich media is such an immersive experience, a mobile site is not needed.

A mobile site is important regardless.

Although rich media is an immersive experience, it is important to let consumers go deeper.

?Always let them go and explore broader options via a mobile Web site,? Ms. Williams said.

?Mobile Web and rich media go hand in hand,? she said. ?They are complementary.?

User experience
Per Ms. Vautravers, it is the job of the publishers to educate brands and agencies on what is going to be a really terrible user experience.

In some cases, for a promotion that has an expiration date, a brand can use rich media.

In place of sending someone to a mobile site, a brand can use rich media. In that instance it can replace a mobile Web site temporarily.

Cheryl Lucanegro, senior vice president of ad sales at Pandora, Indianapolis, IN, said that what Pandora considers to be rich media is very different than other publishers.

?We are a personalized radio service and so rich media is anytime a user is interacting with an ad,? Ms. Lucanegro said. ?We use audio messaging a lot because sometimes when you are listening to Pandora the phone is not in hand.

?We use a lot of expandables and ads that roll up like a window shade, but the music continues to play,? she said.

?Top Chef? ran a rich-media ad campaign via Pandora where consumers clicked to watch a video.

At the end of the video ad, consumers could add the show to their calendar.

?This is not only a creative rich-media ad, but it also takes advantage of the phone?s native functionality,? Ms. Lucanegro said. 

Ms. Lucanegro also said that mobile rich media can achieve 2.5 times higher interaction than standard banners.

Future of rich media
Mobile commerce-enabled rich media ads are going to be big, per Ms. Vautravers.

Rich media is increasingly going to serve as a means of supporting a brand?s evergreen strategy.

Augmented reality and location are what excite Ms. Williams in rich media. Both will probably play exciting roles in the future.  

Ms. Lucanegro expects more True Blood-like stunt ads in the future (see story).

?These are great if you are in the right environment,? Ms. Lucanegro said. ?Those are going to be a lot of fun."