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Make the most of your mobile Web creative

Tina Unterlaender
Account director, AKQA Mobile

Historically, marketers, brands and consumers tend to approach every new medium in much the same way as they did with the previous one — early TV was like radio with talking heads on a screen; early Web sites were static sales brochures; and early mobile sites were stripped-back desktop sites stuffed onto a small screen. But creating a mobile Web site doesn’t mean just shrinking your existing Web experience to fit into a little screen. It means taking a look at the unique features and limitations of the mobile device and to create the right experience for the mobile user and the mobile phone.

Understanding that users have very different requirements when they are on the go using their mobile device than when they are sitting in front of a computer, delivering the right content is very important. They want fast access to relevant information recognizing that they are on the move and location aware and activity specific experiences.
The mobile experience shouldn’t be just a static brochure. It lends itself to a great interactive experience making use of some of the unique ways the mobile user uses their phone: they use it to make phone calls, to take still and moving pictures, to listen to music or to tell them where they are.

But the phone is obviously a browser too, so keep these tips in mind when designing your WAP site: There shouldn’t be more than three to four scrolls on any page, considering longer load times for more content which could lead to customer frustration. Next, all imagery should be optimized for the mobile environment and not just shrunken down from the PC world. Drop-down menus help make the most use of the small space of the mobile screen, while simple and clearly visible category navigation will avoid the need to scroll down the page to find the information the user is looking for. Also, all site pages should be built to fit across the broad spectrum of mobile screens sizes using images that don’t lock to a specific dimension but rather to the device canvas to ensure the pages work well across all platforms.

Keep in mind the different ways people use mobile when developing your content

Tony Nethercutt
VP of sales, AdMob

Developing a mobile advertising campaign and its creative elements is fundamentally the same as for print or the Internet through your desktop. First, you identify the audience you want to reach, evaluate the resources and experiences you’d like to create and implement a campaign that makes the most sense for the medium and the audience.

For example, it is important to remember that the screen of the average mobile device is much smaller than the average computer screen. This seems like an obvious point, but it’s critical. How does this translate? Well, start with the background of your WAP site and the fonts used. Always try and use a half or full point size larger font than what you initially feel looks right. The best way to plan for the varying screen sizes is to design your WAP site for midsize handset screens (those that are about 200 by 250 pixels). This will ensure that the site gives consumers a positive experience on both larger and smaller screens.

In addition to varying mobile screen sizes, you need to consider how to edit the copy of your campaign if it’s an extension of a print or Internet campaign. For example, if there are campaign elements tied to Flash animation, which does not adapt to mobile phones, think about how to make a seamless transition of creative without the animation, and how that affects the meaning of the copy.  Ideally, copy in mobile advertising is clear and concise.
While other media require high resolution images be used, on mobile it is best to keep graphic sizes smaller to ensure they load quicker over potentially slower connections. It’s also important to have a clear and prominent call to action on your WAP site to ensure stronger engagement with consumers. Remember that the text links below the graphics can complete the creative.

Finally, consider the images in a print or banner ad that is meant to be viewd on the computer: Often, there are multiple images and a good deal of text, which makes sense for those media. However, on mobile you should strongly consider cutting back on the text or dropping an image to make the ad work in the space.

Use midsize screens as a benchmark for designing the best WAP creative

Eswar Priyadarshan
CTO, Quattro Wireless

We are seeing the rapid convergence of the mobile and PC-based Internets, with mobile leading the way in innovation, engagement and relevancy as the always-there, always-on medium. Marketers and agencies have to rapidly learn — and continually relearn — how to “think mobile” with each innovation.

Let’s begin by focusing on the similarities in user expectations between the mobile Web and the PC Web. First, users have learned your URL and go to it on both mobile and PC browsers — we have found that “mobilizing” the standard URL is an obvious and immediate traffic driver rather than creating a “m.[brand]” address.

Second, just like your PC site, your mobile site must have easily navigated, fresh content and frequent updates to drive repeat visits. Finally, mobile users, particularly smartphone users, expect the mobile site to have the same depth as the PC site, and not be a ‘light’ version.

So, how do you think mobile? First, optimize your content: Format content size with the smaller screen size experience in mind. Simplify or eliminate long form fill-ins and use buttons instead. Balance use of graphic and text navigation and content to reduce overall size to speed up downloads. For example, entertainment marketers will use more graphics and trade off on speed, while business-to-business marketers will optimize on speed and use more text.

Next, take advantage of behavior. Mobile sites can drive higher engagement when they leverage what is unique about the environment: creating interactive games that use touchscreens, starting text update clubs and adding maps that use GPS.

And, remember that ‘mobile’ is more than just “phone”: There are now three categories of mobile: standard cellphones, smartphones and larger devices such as the Amazon Kindle and small laptops colloquially known as netbooks. Do not simply ‘feed’ your Web site to all mobile browsers as a majority of them do not support “full HTML” content. Test your ads and sites across devices to reach more of the mobile audience.

Mobile’s definition is evolving as smartphones and other products gain popularity

Frank Desiderio
Dir. of technology, mobile practice lead, Agency.com

Past shifts to new media eventually succeeded once marketers embraced not just the new medium’s unique capabilities, but began to understand how people engaged with that form of media. The next revolution — well underway —  is the consumption of Web content via mobile devices. To date, “mobile” presents the most powerful and personal means of communication, strengthened by integrating other forms of media and its granular demographic and geographic targeting.

These three principles will help yield the greatest results in designing mobile sites:

First, understand context and value. Consider the real-life conditions under which consumers engage with your content via mobile. In this case, it’s people on the move. Keep the interface simple and intuitive to navigate, the copy easy to read and quick to digest, and the calls to action clear and recognizable. Be aware of the consumer’s point of view; why are they at your site? Set a clear path for them to accomplish that goal. Provide a choice; don’t presume mobile consumers always want an alternate, oversimplified version of your Web site.

Next, embrace its uniqueness. Mobile (and PCs to a lesser degree) has many inherent interactive advantages over traditional media. Leverage those capabilities to provide the most useful yet compelling experience — for example, two-way direct communications like voice, SMS, MMS and e-mail; location awareness; and multi-media consumption and distribution.

Finally, optimize performance. Search is a core consumer behavior. Make sure your site is easily findable. Recognize the physical limitations and diversities of mobile devices. For example, the primarily portrait orientation and small dimensions of screens and the lack of standard input methods these affect the way a consumer engages with your content. Every second counts; carefully test the time it takes for your content to load across devices, networks, geographic locations, even times of day.

Mobile offers some unique ways to engage that balance out its limitations

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