Continuing the marketing industry's growing concern over the future of digital advertising in the era of ad blocking software and the transition away from desktop computing comes the news, via Lauren Johnson of AdWeek, that industry standards for charging advertisers for mobile ads have still not been set.
The article, "How Can Marketers Be Certain Their Mobile Ads Are Actually Getting Seen?" addresses the fact that the Media Rating Council, a watchdog group that sets standards for what parameters must be met for an advertiser to be charged for an ad, still has not released any finalized standards for mobile. They released standards for desktop ad charges and viewability in 2014, and, according to Johnson, promised mobile standards in May of this year. But advertisers are still waiting.
Until these standards are released, the MRC is advising advertisers to treat mobile ads the same as desktop ads, which might be a losing proposition for companies trying to gain traction with audiences as they head into the busy holiday season.
The problem with using desktop standards for mobile ads, as obvious as it might be, is that mobile is smaller than desktop. This might seem like a "well, duh" moment, but this is massively important to advertisers.
Right now, the standard for desktop is "advertisers only pay when 50 percent of a display ad loads for one second and two seconds for video promos." But, according to a study from measurement firm Moat, which examined several major online publishers like Vox and The New York Times among others, only 44% of mobile ads (versus 52% of desktop ads) are "viewable," as in they met the standards for being chargeable.
Another salient fact is that while only 63% of desktop users scroll down on articles they are reading, 76% do so on mobile. (They kind of have to, the screen is smaller.) Which means that ads that load and are chargeable are more likely to be just appearing at the top of a page when a mobile user has already scrolled down.
This is especially true for ads that aren't data-light and can't load as quickly as they need to to actually be seen. This becomes more acute when coupled with the stat, also from Moat, that mobile users start scrolling down much faster than desktop users (13 seconds on mobile vs. 24 seconds on desktop). And when an ad does come up on mobile, it is seen for less time; 17 seconds on mobile vs. 25 seconds on desktop.
All these factors add up to advertisers being less able to get real value out of mobile ads, and that value continues to drop the more users adopt ad blocking software.
So it should come as no surprise how Johnson's post ends: With a note about how people like Brian Nadres, director of programmatic media at The Media Kitchen, are turning to native advertising and sponsored content on social media, to get the word out with content that can't be blocked or avoided. In the near future, we may have to face the fact that traditional advertising just doesn't work anymore, and that, to reach audiences, we'll have to try something new.