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Mobile Apps or Ads? What Would You Bet On?

It's the Ads on their smart phones that people dislike.  It's the tiny message that you can't seem to quite read, let alone digest and respond to the call-to-action. Which car company was that? Who cares?

Let's face it. Those tiny ads just aren't working. Very few people click on them, some even accidentally, and surveys show that 4 out of 5 dislike them.  According to a recent study done by Azullo, an Ad solution company, only 21% of people even remember seeing  an Ad on their phone in the last six months. And, of those who did remember, only 14% said it made them want to buy what was displayed. That said, mobile accounts for 10% of people's time spent on media and that percentage is only going to grow because mobile devices are always-available, instantly-on. There's no login screen, no lengthy boot cycles, or taking your computer out of your briefcase. Smart marketers know this but are still struggling to figure out how best to use this channel for their brands.

In the view of Sunil Gupta, Professor of Business at Harvard Business School, among others, the future of mobile is in Apps not Ads. Observe how people use their smart phones. A lot of time on these devices is spent on calling, emailing, texting and browsing and yes also on apps for games and entertainment, social networks, utilities, discovery and brands. Games and entertainment and social networks account for 73% of the time spent on one's phone. That doesn't leave much air-time for other categories which includes brands.

So the key is to create Apps that stand out just the way an Ad has to stand out on television or radio. The list of ways to do this revolves around strategies that deliver convenience, unique value, social value, offer and entertainment. And that is where the holy grail for your brand is i.e. to create the right combination of these strategies into an App that fits the product category and delivers the brand's value proposition. Brands like Nike (Nike+ Running, Nike+ FuelBand, Nike+ Basketball, etc.) and Coke (Coke Drink, Coca-Cola Freestyle) are already doing it but the list is small and non-existent in many product categories.

At the end of the day it's about relevant content presented in an engaging manner that smart phone users go back to again and again.

So, what will you bet on? Apps or Ads? Give us your feedback here or join the conversation on our Facebook page.