Mobile content consumption and gaming has become my “platform” of choice for those two activities for me. So I spend a good deal of time looking at apps, testing them, buying them and throwing them away. I spend a good deal of time on mobile devices and I get the opportunity to see what many game and mobile app vendors are doing to their users to encourage engagement, retention and to spend more money with them. For the most part, the majority of vendors are engaging in old school interruption marketing which doesn’t play well on a smaller screen, not that it does in our inbox or Facebook wall either.
I’m all for communicating with your customers, I know that engaging your customers can drive increased revenue and continued use of a given product, but I can no longer remain silent on the use of iPad notifications and the apps themselves as an ad platform – especially the ones I’ve paid for.
I actually prefer paid apps over free apps, since I suspect/hope I get less ads than the free apps, which may or may not be the case and is a growing concern by some in the marketplace.
Clearly mobile is evolving in how to present content, engage users and how to work with sponsors, so to that end I get that marketers are using what channels for communications they have available, but I’ve been inundated with ads more and more in the games I play whether it’s pop-up ads or putting ads in front of content just isn’t working, at least for me.
Here are 6 examples which I find obtrusive as a person who consumes maybe 95% of my content and use “mobile” platforms for about the same amount of gaming time as well…
1. The Welcome Promotional Pop-up! Sale!: While only a click and it is gone, I sometimes click wrong since it is human nature to click the button which has focus and I then have to watch the go to iTunes, go to App Store and render the discount app loop which while only 1o seconds of my life, it is still 10 seconds of my life and interrupts my experience with the app.
2. The In-App Specific Purchase Notification – I like Apple’s notification feature, it’s consolidate source of notifications is handy since I’m not always sitting at my iPad waiting for the next notification, but it’s starting to feel like my 15 year old Yahoo inbox which is typically just full of spam and I have to randoming look at since I just might have some account somewhere which still uses it. Why can’t App vendors use more data driven and intelligent methods via the information their have on their buyers when sending marketing messages?
Below is one from EA which doesn’t even acknowledge that I own everything already for this game – it’s clearly a shot gun approach which in the era of “Big Data” is kinda lazy. I mean really – shouldn’t EA know that I have almost $2M in tournament cash and every “upgrade” I can buy?
3. The Random Game recommendation which has nothing to do with the game you are in: I would think that there might be a better way than just plastering an ad on the home screen and hoping.
4. The Ad which Covers Functionality: While real estate is an issue on a mobile device, there is no real reason to cover up functionality with an ad – even features which aren’t often used. Admittedly, I never use the Facebook button which is under the ad, but someone might – I see all those game updates from those people who I knew in High School who appear to game all day… There of course is the fact that I already own Life for family game night, so at least render relevant ads based on customer information. There is a theme developing here – spray and pray is a preferred method for mobile engagement.
5. Do You Want A Free App? This one is the most annoying, since it gets in front of content which I actually want to read. If I want your app I’ll download it right? The other odd thing which some vendors do after rendering the app ad is to then force you to the main page and don’t actually deliver you to the content you wanted in the first place. Why?!?!?
As an aside, I have downloaded some of these just to see if I might like it and invariably most are buggy proprietary lowest common denominator browsers with odd metaphors or better yet you get the app which is only an RSS feed in a buggy browser – cool. I suspect these are examples of someone looking to prove an ROI for the investment in an iPhone or iPad app, but if you develop a compelling app people will download it anyway.
6. The Pop Up or Ad Which Overlays Content I want to Read: This is an area which is evolving some, but they still get in the way. Even the new versions emerging like the one below while a step forward still get in the way. The worst are the pop up ads which forces me to click on a “X” which is about 1/5 the size of my finger it can be hard to actually get at the content I want.
I’m sure these 6 approaches drive revenue, I mean it’s just numbers right? So perhaps I don’t want to shut off a channel of communication from my vendors, but perhaps we need an opt-in option much like email because this is becoming more and more spammy.
The Other Side of the Coin
There are good things and creative approaches to ads in mobile which I think are working. In all fairness, not all ads are intrusive and in fact Com2Us has received a good deal of revenue from me thanks to an ad they placed for Tower Defense on one of the in game billboards for Home Run Battle 2, here is an example of how they do it (I’m currently on the verge of buying Tiny Farm thanks to the ad below as well, due to Prescott’s insistence that it will be a good game, after all it’s a “farm game dad”). :
Zynga also does a fairly good job in Words with Friends, but isn’t this a game I already paid for? Even with that being a fact, I don’t find the other app “ribbon” shown below that bad.
I look forward to when the new ad metaphor for mobile is found, since the old methods of interruption marketing does not play well on mobile. Have you seen any good use of mobile for ads and awareness?