From ad networks and exchanges to demand-side platforms and other app publishers, app marketers have left no stone unturned when it comes to finding new mobile channels on which to advertise their apps. And yet, as the market matures and evolves, most developers are finding mobile as a channel to be saturated, competitive and increasingly expensive.
For help, some app marketers have turned to television to promote their apps. It started, notably, during this year’s Super Bowl, with commercials for not one but two different mobile games — Clash of Clans and Game of War, featuring celebrities no less than A-listers Liam Neeson and Kate Upton. The industry took notice, and many other app developers have since followed suit. Slowly but surely, the mobile industry is turning to TV advertising as a critical component in the overall marketing mix.
There are plenty of good reasons for this seismic shift. After all, TV still offers the largest reach of any mass-market media. In workplaces around the world, colleagues still gather around the water cooler to discuss the latest episodes of their favorite TV shows, and there are still parties marking major season finales and sporting events. The fact is, TV is still very much a part of the fabric of our lives. According to Nielsen’s 2014 Q4 Report, there were 285 million TV viewers in the U.S. alone — a mass audience if ever there was one.
Even while watching TV, a viewer’s smartphone or tablet device is usually only an arm’s length away. Eighty-four percent of U.S. viewers are watching TV with a second screen in hand, and 56 percent of them are actively engaging in another digital activity during their TV sessions, a behavior so common it has been given its own term: “screen-stacking.” With such cross-device synergy, TV advertising represents a great opportunity to capture consumers’ attention through TV and encourage them to download an app on the spot through their mobile device.
And then there’s the fact that it’s acceptable for TV ads to run longer than their mobile counterparts. Mobile video ads tend to be short — 15 seconds or less. In most cases, that’s simply not enough time to tell an app’s whole story. A television commercial, on the other hand, usually lasts 30 seconds or longer, letting marketers get deeper into their value proposition and really tell their brand’s story with panache.
Television, more so than billboards, newspapers or radio, is a great brand-building tool that gives app marketers credibility and recognition with the masses. At the recent App Promotion Summit, Stefan Bielau, Managing Partner at Dynamo Partners, talked about the “halo effect” that television advertising can generate for mobile apps. He noted that, beyond the immediate positive feelings TV ads generated, the commercials succeeded in getting people talking about them over social networks. We simply don’t see this trend based on mobile campaigns.
Another benefit of TV advertising is that it can often help app marketers reach new audiences. Some marketers might feel they have exhausted every mobile medium and hit a plateau because they continue to target the same audience. Television provides an opportunity to tap into a broader audience — one that includes new consumers in addition to the same ones they’ve targeted time and time again.
Television also offers more and better targeting options for advertisers. TV is really a buffet for viewers, allowing them to be selective about what they watch. This interest-driven behavior makes it that much easier for marketers to target their desired audiences.
Television campaigns provide access to very specific and diverse groups of audiences. A kid’s game can market itself on Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel. A financial app for business-minded professionals might find CNBC as the perfect landing spot. An app for middle-aged women might try advertising during daytime dramas or cooking shows.
Televisions are only getting smarter and more connected. As they do, they will become less of a passive medium and more of an active one, allowing consumers to engage with apps directly on their TV. It is very likely that in the near future, TV won’t be just for “watching” but for actively “using.” Smart TV apps already let us use our TVs for shopping, social networking, gaming and more. These activities will soon be commonplace, and as they become more popular you can bet that ads not just for mobile apps but for smart TV apps will appear more and more frequently.
To date, game makers have been the leading buyers of TV install ads — partially because game marketing is so competitive and game developers must think outside the box in order to stand out, and partially because games are among the most profitable apps, meaning game developers can afford to take some chances. But we expect to see other app developers advertising on TV soon.
Don’t be surprised when you see celebrities like Kate Upton and Liam Neeson shilling a mobile app during the break of your favorite TV shows.
Big brands already establish cross-media synergy by incorporating website URLs into their TV ads; it won’t be long before the call-to-action at the end of a brand’s TV ad is to download an app instead of visit a website. Financial, healthcare, travel and utility apps are nearing games as the top spenders of mobile ads, and we expect these categories to be advertising on TV soon, as well.
As mobile marketing channels become saturated by app campaigns, marketers are beginning to look at other channels to fulfill their needs for high-volume, high-quality user acquisition. From digital ad mediums like the web and email, to offline vehicles like billboards and direct mail, nothing is out of the question. But for all of the reasons listed above, TV stands the best chance of becoming the next frontier for mobile-app marketing. And as TV campaigns begin to prove their viability, they will soon become commonplace.
In other words, don’t be surprised when you see celebrities like Kate Upton and Liam Neeson shilling a mobile app during the break of your favorite TV shows.