Co-Founder of GleamDream.com and Digitique communication agency, PR and digital marketing expert with more than 25 years experience.
The internet has been and will continue to be an essential tool during the coronavirus crisis. Roughly half of U.S. adults (53%) said that the internet has been essential for them personally during the pandemic, and another 34% describe it as “important, but not essential.”
Globally, internet traffic increased by 10.2%, as of June. Online retail has shown tremendous growth, too, increasing from 12% in Germany all the way to 57% in Vietnam. Interestingly, this growth has been accompanied by very limited investment in internet advertising by many brands.
According to a March Econsultancy article, 29% of brands decided to maintain advertising levels as they were before, as businesses are cutting costs and considering how they can maintain their workforce and keep layoffs to a minimum. Overall, we have seen that approximately 82% of enterprises have cut their advertising spend.
Why mobile ads are winning
You would have had to be living in a bubble to not realize how much mobile devices have become an essential part of most people’s lives. While the mobile app market may have been initially driven by office productivity tools, such as email, app developers are producing tools that are becoming integral to all aspects of our lives, from entertainment to mental health and well-being. A recent study estimated that mobile apps are now eating up, on average, three hours and 40 minutes of time per day — more than people spend watching TV.
The size of the app industry is massive, with developers looking to create indispensable tools in our lives and the latest must-have apps. In 2019 alone, companies with a mobile-first focus had a combined valuation of $544 billion — 6.5 times higher than those that did not.
With government lockdowns keeping people from being able to communicate with friends, colleagues and families in person, consumer demand for video chat apps has risen rapidly; even governments are relying on their own “killer apps” to provide track-and-trace and other pandemic-focused services.
Another reason to place ads on mobile apps is that they tend to have higher engagement rates than mobile-optimized websites or desktop web browsing — more than 80% in 2019 — and experience 100% to 300% higher conversion rates. This sales boost is caused by an increase in volume and frequency of visits.
Mobile apps versus mobile-enabled websites
Behind these numbers, we can find specific tools, techniques and features that can’t be used on mobile-optimized websites. First of all, apps run and upload faster and are just under the user’s fingertips. People use mobile devices and apps on a daily basis, so they are just one click away from your goods or services.
According to an App Annie report, time spent on shopping apps grew to 18 billion hours in 2018 globally, and that was before the pandemic. This ties directly to the possibility of instant connection with users, which gives marketers many opportunities to attract them not just through the app, but also through push messages, emails, notifications, etc.
This brings us to one of the most important features of mobile apps and the key reason to use them: personalization, from serving customizable offers and updates to loyalty programs to geolocation and monitoring user engagement. In general, app environments are a great place for the testing of different marketing approaches and tactics that can lead to higher conversion rates. What’s more, Compuware’s analysis shows that 85% of consumers favor apps over mobile websites.
Before we had even heard of the pandemic, the forecast for spending on mobile games across all app stores was projected to top $100 billion in 2020. Games now make up 72% of app store spending. In 2019, mobile gaming extended its global lead in consumer spend 2.4 times more than PC/Mac gaming and 2.9 times more than home game consoles.
Games across multiple platforms have always driven technology, and with advancements in mobile technologies, mobile gaming is accounting for more and more mobile screen time. Advertisers have not been slow to pick up on this, and as a result, we are seeing advertising gain a solid foothold. Games, by their very nature, are very immersive, and this means that we are likely to continue to see a rise in game advertising. Product placement, branded content and more traditional media techniques are all ways in which advertisers are making use of this platform.
‘We’re in this together’ does not mean ‘we’re the same’
At the start of the pandemic, many global brands continued their advertising campaigns, but their messages were so similar: “We need to support each other,” “We are in the same boat,” “We are in this together.” But is this really what customers want to hear from brands? Companies spend millions of dollars on advertising, but the customer experience is lost in the same “white noise” from everywhere.
Be honest and open with your customers — tell them how you protect and support your employees. It’s a time for charity, so also consider supporting your local hospital and home care organizations, and try to raise money for your country’s healthcare. This kind of activity is unforgettable.
The pandemic will end, but customers will remember the way your brand acted during this time. Do not pretend your brand is a family and friend to your customers if you write “Sale! Final Reductions” at the bottom of your email or at the end of your video ads.