Content marketing, native advertising, and mobile have been the hottest buzzwords in digital advertising over the past year. With good reason. Brand content and native placement have invigorated display, which has been slowly waning in effectiveness for quite some time, and mobile media consumption continues to skyrocket.
Mobile advertising, however, has long languished in the doldrums of banner blindness and fat-finger syndrome. However, there are signs of a light at the end of this potentially enormous tunnel, and it's driven by a number of emerging trends.
1. Continuing Mobile Usage Growth
If you've been following the industry news for any extent of time, this is a no-brainer. Internet device usage has been rapidly migrating from PCs and laptops to smartphones and tablets over the last couple of years. As eMarketer noted in August, US consumers are now spending a touch more time interacting with mobile devices throughout the day than with computers: 19.4% of their total interaction time with major media vs 19.2%, respectively. That trend shows no sign of slowing down, either.
2. Increasing Mobile Data Consumption
The rise of LTE and other 4G mobile data technologies, along with the proliferation of unlimited data mobile plans (like with MVNOs Pure Talk and Red Pocket) and public Wifi have encouraged users to be less touchy about how much data they're consuming using their mobile devices. For instance, Ooyala's Global Online Video Index estimates that mobile's share of consumption of bandwidth-intensive video is set to double year-on-year.
3. The Rise of Bite-Sized Micro-Content...
Twitter might have been the first mover here, but it's spawned a number of variants: six-second Vines, Instagram and VSCO, FanFootage and SoundHalo, etc. Each specialize in crowdsourcing digestible bits of shareable content. The mobile user base is slowly becoming accustomed to flipping through and consuming appealing bits of digital content.
4. ...and Mobile Feeds...
Most of the social media and micro-content consumed on mobile via a scrolling feed. Content can be tagged or categorized according its type or topic, but otherwise it's all presented in one ever-expanding stream.
5. ...and Native Advertising
The feed-based UI paradigm in mobile makes native advertising even more compelling than it is in standard computer settings. Instead of having several columns, and an easily-ignored periphery with navigation and promotional sidebars, the single stream of content in most popular news, social media, and micro-content sites prompts users to evaluate the attractiveness of each feed item on its own. We profiled People.com's mobile native ads in our eBook on native advertising, but many other popular mobile sites have followed suit.
6. The Growth of Programmatic
Although programmatic has primarily focused on automating the processes by which media is bought and sold, reducing friction in the process, it could also have an enormous impact on content distribution via mobile as the capacity for rule sets to accommodate parameters specific to content - like topic and format - get developed and adopted. This will accelerate when standards emerge and enjoy widespread support.
As I stated earlier, it's almost impossible to overstate the potential value of content marketing, in most cases presented natively, in mobile advertising. Although not all of its stream-based mobile ads are content-rich, almost half of Facebook's $2 billion in revenue in Q3 2013 was from mobile. Since content marketing offers meaningful impact on brands' advertising objectives, we can expect more of it on smartphones and tablets in 2014.