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Cultivating immersive creative experiences leveraging the phone?s native features

By Ed Chater

No matter which reports you follow, mobile advertising revenue more than doubled in 2012.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers reported $3.4 billion, while eMarketer, whose study included more types of mobile ads, reported $4.11 billion and predicts this year?s U.S. mobile ad spend will grow 77 percent to $7.29 billion.

It is clear that mobile advertising has come of age, but when it comes to engagement, what is the most effective approach for brands?

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The spray-and-pray approach to mobile advertising ? serving ads to as many people as possible and hope they click ? is a fool's errand. It is disruptive to the user and hugely wasteful.

Recent advancements in both technical targeting and customer segmentation lets marketers be more sophisticated and enables brands to precisely target and engage audiences.

First, appropriate segmentation is essential for success. Use your mobile analytics to set up meaningful cohorts of your customer base so you can strike a healthy balance between granularity and volume.

If you have 500 different audience segments, chances are you do not have time to tailor messages to reach every type.

Alternatively, only having three or four segments will likely result in too broad of targeting and cause irrelevant messages.

Your customers are living beings, their habits will change and they will move between your structures.

Ensure analytics are refreshed monthly and implement a solution that is dynamic enough to automatically update segmentation as users hit the appropriate criteria.

Once defined, see how adjusting targeting and creative executions can increase engagement.

Now, do not get so involved with segmentation and analytics to where you judge your ad ROI purely on transactional terms.

Acknowledge your mobile users for what they are: mobile users. 

Understand that the journey of someone who visits a Web site is different from that of someone who downloads an application or engages with a mobile ad.

When a user physically taps or swipes, it evokes a different connection than a mouse click and when she downloads your app it stays until it is deleted.

Interactive rich media ads (aka HTML5) produce click-through rates three times higher than standard display, because they implement a user journey more appropriate for mobile devices.

No other medium offers your brand the opportunity to connect physically or serve as a permanent reminder on your consumer?s personal device.

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Aim to develop a deeper, more meaning relationship with your customers.

If your brand can cultivate an immersive creative experience that leverages the phone?s native features - such as its camera, GPS chip, accelerometer, notification tray and save to calendar ability ? and provide value, you will develop lasting mobile relationships that drive both user acquisition and lifetime value.

Whether you choose an app, mobile ads or both for your strategy it is an opportunity to have ongoing conversations with consumers.

Take advantage of mobile relationship management tools such as in-app messaging, push notifications and email to provide personalization and relevance. This touch will enable you to re-engage with lapsed users or increase the lifetime value of existing users.

For example, if you have a retail app, give the user an opportunity to tell you what they are interested in and augment into existing past-purchase data. Then use that data to send push notifications on their feedback.

Giving users control in editing their interests provides valuable intent data and can also be useful insight in case you cross the line and become interruptive.

Finally, how can you use mobile to delight your consumers?

Problem: Filling out forms is a drag on mobile devices. That turns off a lot of advertisers who rely on data to deliver products and service. Solution? Capitalize on the rapidly emerging mobile technology and use the camera on the device to capture data from things such as business cards, driving licenses and credit cards to then auto populate fields.

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Here are five summary tips for inviting the user to engage:

1) Target appropriately based on customer cohorts
2) Communicate useful and relevant content 
3) Provide users opportunity to give feedback on experiences
4) Monitor changes with good analytics and learn from it
5) Use data to provide further personalization to user

Overall, the key to success is to make the experience mobile-specific and invite users to participate without disrupting their mobile use.

Ed Chater is vice president of media operations at Somo, New York. Reach him at .