Mobile likes to break the rules. It doesn't encourage the same predictable behavior of television, radio, or even digital. Consumers use their mobile devices wherever, whenever, and however they like. And though that flexibility is a delight (and an addiction) for consumers, it can present a challenge for advertisers.

Marketers once could operate on assumptions about a given user experience—if consumers are watching prime-time TV, they'll expect an ad—but the mobile experience is much more ambiguous.

Moreover, the consumer relationship with brands has evolved. You can attribute that change to tech-savvier audiences who now have at least a foundational understanding of advertising and targeting and to the sheer volume of media and brand messages that audiences need to navigate.

As a result, consumers are quick to react to experiences they deem ill-fitting or intrusive. They've learned how to skip or block ads. And they have any number of platforms with which to vent on the subject.

What Advertisers Need to Recognize

What marketers must keep in mind is that not every mobile experience represents a strong engagement opportunity.

Ads are still delivered without consideration of the nuances of consumer experience. In other words, if there's an ad call today, there will be an ad delivered. And though this practice might ensure ad dollars flow, it comes at the expense of consumer experience, the long-term value of publisher inventory, and brand impact.

So, advertisers must be attuned to the wild card in mobile ad performance: ad receptivity.

Without a window into a given mobile consumer's receptivity at the time of ad delivery, advertisers risk trying to build connections at less-than-optimal moments, undercutting campaign performance and dragging down ROI. (There's also that risk of negative effect on brand perception.)

When factoring ad receptivity into the equation, advertisers can avoid wasted impressions and deliver ads more likely to engage and build long-term brand value. At a time when marketers are armed with deep insights on consumer wants, needs, and actions, ad receptivity represents the last mile in critical insight.

The Downside of Ad Receptivity

Ad receptivity, however, doesn't correspond to demographics, income, or location. A given consumer may be more receptive to advertising during some moments than during others. Likewise, a consumer may be more receptive to different brand messages and ad formats at different moments.

For example, a 15-second spot from a financial services company may be better received during the morning commute than during weekend family time. The advertiser's goal is to identify which moments in the mobile experience prove most receptive to a specific product and message.

How do you gain this insight? It's not as tangible as a location, an app, or a device. Instead, ad receptivity relies on the interpretation of data—that is, of every data signal available. That includes demographics, location, device, time of day, context, event data, behavioral insights, and relevant triggers, such as weather, stock market, local sports results, pollen levels, etc. By looking at those data points in aggregate and then extrapolating how they influence one another, advertisers can gain a clearer picture of consumers' current experience—their "mobile moment"—and use that to gauge receptivity.

The Simple Process

You start by defining your audience then identifying and targeting the general experiences that align with that audience and your product message.

For example, if you're a CPG advertiser, you might want to identify moments of relaxation as well as moments like Saturday afternoon shopping when your audience is closer to purchase. Once the campaign is live, you identify (based on engagement rate and other performance indicators) which moments demonstrate the greatest receptivity to your campaign and optimize accordingly.

As you can see, this approach isn't about reinventing the campaign process. The distinction is in how you approach consumers and the insight you gain as a result. Rather than drawing conclusions on one-dimensional data points (e.g., "women are more likely to engage than men"), you're building meaningful cohorts within your audience segments based on common mobile behavior (e.g., "weekday coffee break moments generate greater engagement than weekend relaxation moments"). That more customized approach better suits a culture in which media consumption patterns are fragmented and traditional roles are evolving.

* * *

Ad receptivity has always played a role in advertising's success, but more sophisticated and message-bombarded consumers make it an essential consideration in mobile advertising.

Today, just getting in front of a consumer is not enough to effectively make an impression; advertisers need an approach that respects their time and attention as well as provides value. By understanding ad receptivity as it applies to a particular brand's campaign goals, advertisers can overcome the fundamental challenges of mobile advertising and build stronger, more productive connections with modern audiences.

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The Wild Card in Mobile Ad Performance: Ad Receptivity

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image of Alvaro Bravo

Alvaro Bravo is president and co-founder of Aki Technologies, an ad platform built to unlock the potential of mobile advertising through mobile moments.

LinkedIn: Alvaro Bravo