Two cents blog

Mobile ads – cracking the code

by Nick Ikonomou on 7 December 2017

“We need a TV ad. Actually, it’s more a series of ads, and they’re not actually going on TV. They need to be 15 seconds long max, and also be able to be cut down to 10 seconds and 6 seconds. They also need to still make sense with the sound turned off, and captions turned on. Plus, they should work in a horizontal format for desktop viewers, and be optimised for vertical mobile screens.”

I’d love to say that’s an exaggeration, but in this day and age the best way to succeed with online and mobile videos is to understand, embrace, and create for the ever-evolving parameters that define them. Who makes the rules? Look no further than Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and their social media cohort. These guys know what to serve their users and it would take a brave copywriter to defy them. Yes, of course there’s a time and place for the big TV brand ad, but increasingly the more common challenge for agencies is to develop and produce online ads/videos/content that deliver results in tiny, impactful, targeted bites on mobile.

The impact of this demanding new wish list has many complications on creativity, budgets and sanity. Where once it was enough to make two or three cut down variations of the main TV ad, now productions must stretch to make many different bespoke incarnations. These all take more skill, time and money. Ironic indeed that in an era that budgets are shrinking… we need to make MORE!

As a copywriter, these days I find myself simultaneously trying to write a script AND deconstruct-it from the time of briefing. At the same time as juggling the storytelling, the messaging and the tone, I find myself also trying to forecast how an idea will work with less screen time, less screen space, and no soundscape. It really is a mental waltz. But there is simply no other option when a client’s budget is in your hands and you need to optimise your thinking for the digital world.

Fortunately, this is not a creative journey I am taking alone. Agencies around the globe are grappling with the same mobile and digital video evolution. I’ll pat Facebook on the back and say that resources such as their Creative Hub provide fantastic guidance for developing clever and hard-working online ads. Gone are the days of just trimming a TV ad in half to make it mobile ready. In fact around the world, brands are now more focused than ever on customising their TV ads to optimise them for mobile. A great example I recently saw was this comparison by Bose showing how they tailored their big TVC for the small screen, including a new aspect ratio, more close-ups, more graphics and a crisper edit.

For me, the lesson in all this is that the solution for making great mobile ads doesn’t always come in the edit suite. The solution comes from forward planning to make sure that by the time you get to the edit suite you already have all the ingredients you need to create a high-impact, customised digital campaign.

Oh, and there’s another lesson too. Today’s rules will probably all change by tomorrow.


Nick Ikonomou is a Senior Creative at BCM

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