Peter Vaz is chair of the IAB Canada mobile committee and vice-president, director channel engagement, at MacLaren McCann
Mobile penetration has been growing significantly in the last couple of years. According to Media Technology Monitor, in the fall of 2013, 62% of Canadians had smartphones versus 51% the previous year, growing by 21%, and 39% owned tablets versus 26% the previous year, growing by 51%. They are using these devices for looking up weather, surfing the internet, navigation, engaging on social media, playing games, watching video and TV shows, talking and a lot more.
How is our digital presence stacking up against these behavioral and cultural changes, and more importantly how is digital advertising delivering on this change? It is no longer about producing web pages or web banners that deliver on a desktop browser. It’s about how it delivers on smartphones, tablets, connected TV, gaming consoles or one of the many other devices we use to connect to the web.
eMarketer estimates mobile ad spending in Canada was $327 million in 2013, and projects $556 million in 2014. By 2018, Canadian mobile spend is expected to reach $2 billion. To capitalize on this trend, marketers and agencies will have to embrace the medium and work with available solutions to build better and robust mobile experiences for the user.
Mobile offers an opportunity for marketers to engage audiences in new and interesting ways, but the biggest challenge is creating content for multiple platforms and devices. There is no silver bullet that can address this issue, but HTML5 is proving to be a strong contender. It addresses the burning issues in mobile, like handling content creation across multiple platforms and finding an alternative to Flash, which is widely used in delivering web content and advertising, but incompatible with most mobile devices.
There are a number of key benefits to using HTML5. It provides creative flexibility in animation and interactivity, in part by embedding audio, video and rich content without plugins and third party programs. It provides for responsive design while delivering on multiple platforms, following through on the “Build once and deploy everywhere” philosophy. It offers geotargeting support critical for mobile communications.
HTML5 does have its fair share of challenges. Developers are still looking for the best way to optimize performance and file size across devices and resolutions. Cross browser support is not available for some newer HTML5 features. Developer talent is difficult to find, and clients face longer lead times as the industry refines new processes.
Tools that can help us overcome these challenges include Adobe Edge, CreateJS, GreenSock Animation, Google Web Designer, Famo.us and Neuranet‘s Flexitive to name a few.
So how do we get started on engaging the growing number of Canadians who have already made the shift to mobile platforms?
• Engage key stakeholders that will deliver on the mobile experience, including creative, media and developer tool-makers such as Google Web Designer, so as to align on campaign objectives and performance metrics
• Use the existing development and design teams to learn and build in HTML5. It is not a long process, and can be adopted in a reasonably short time with available tools
• Start with a small campaign within a larger digital campaign. Creative agencies can use small campaigns to work through issues during the transition to HTML5
There are no quick-fix solutions to migrating to mobile. However, IAB Canada, together with IAB in the U.S. and industry partners, are working on guidelines and standards to make it easier to develop content that engages Canadians on a platform of their choosing. We can no longer just run static ads on mobile and hope that the user will engage. We need to provide users with interactive and engaging experiences.