News and views to improve the strength and vigor of all your direct response marketing activity.

We all see dozens (scores?) of marketing and advertising “Top 5” tips and “Proven Tactics” in blogs, webinars, and infographics. But are they really, truly, true and trustworthy? My experience is a firm Not Always. To uncover authentic winning creative tactics, it pays to dig a level (or two) deeper.

Part One of this post took a deep dive into some stats and claims around how consumers’ “Attention Spans Are Shorter Than Ever” … or not! And ways to effectively craft persuasive marketing, regardless. We uncovered what I hope you found to be relevant and actionable insights behind some top-level mobile marketing sound bites.

Now let’s dive in, dig deeper, and push to share more actionable tips and techniques with four more mobile marketing factoids.

“Truthy” Mobile Marketing Fact #2 — The Square Facebook Ad Format performs best in mobile marketing. A Facebook test for The Jane Goodall Institute indicates that square ads outperform traditional horizontal newsfeed formats. As consumers increasingly use phones, and see more and more ads on that screen, the square ads have an edge. This format gives you more real estate than the standard ads proportioned for wider desktop screens.

The test showed 2x more views and up to 100% greater engagement. Pretty cool. And, oh … did I mention that the square mobile ad featured video? Well, the article where I encountered the sound bite failed to include that tidbit. Which is kinda key!

More than just “square ads,” as noted above: Video is a key factor – and you don’t need a unique or proprietary service to make a square video.

Clicking deeper into the study, it was clear the content was presented by a vendor promoting a service that offered square video. While that doesn’t invalidate the finding, their service is not required. If you, your staff, or your agency can use any standard video editing software, you’re already set to make all the square video your heart desires.

But hold on … you can do better. There are even higher-performing formats than square. And video is not the only game in town.

A laundry list of Truly True Truths — square video ads are just the start. From testing we’ve done for DMW clients over the past 18 months or so, here are some proven tactics that can help boost your mobile ad visibility, engagement, and response:

  • Vertical Facebook Ads. 5:4 ratio gives your message even more screen visibility than square on a phone screen!
  • Other high-producing Facebook formats. Vertical and square give your ads a bump in mobile. For other screens and depending on your goals — views, clicks or leads — you should also check out:
  • Facebook Motion Ads. More than a GIF, something less than full video, motion ads can add attention-getting oomph to your message.
  • Facebook Lead Generation Ads. If qualified leads are your goal, this format may be just what you need.
  • Facebook Carousel Ads. Another format worth looking at if you’d like to feature multiple benefits and calls to action.
  • And sometimes good old static, horizontal 9:16 newsfeed ads are the right choice. Depending on your budget, reach and frequency goals, standard newsfeed ads may still be your go-to workhorse.
Facebook Motion Ads put more oomph into your brand message, keep the viewer more engaged, and make them more likely to respond.

Not sure what’s right? In truth, every situation is different. While it pays to stay abreast of the Latest & Greatest, don’t get overly seduced by the latest shiny penny. Talk to your trusted digital guru. At DMW, that’s our VP of Integrated Marketing, who never tires of discussing these topics with our clients, as well as prospects. You can reach him through our Contact Page.

“Truthy” Mobile Marketing Fact #3 — Your mobile ads have 400 milliseconds to engage a viewer — That’s 4/10th of a second. Essentially one eye blink, and a consumer has “processed” your mobile ad and decided to engage or not.

Now, based on looking into Truth #1 in part one of this post, let’s pause to define “processed” here: It’s a good deal less than fully understanding content. It’s merely forming an initial impression. Still, I imagine we can all agree and buy into the conclusion that ads in a mobile feed get attention faster and trigger stronger cognition, compared to desktop — people are just moving faster in mobile.

A companion fact: In the time it takes your heart to beat one time, you’ll form an emotional response to an ad. A skimpy 7/10ths of a second. In desktop mode, for comparison, it takes 2-3 seconds for an ad to be seen and cognitively recognized. Mobile moves fast!

Deeper Truth: Okay. Mobile ads move fast … now what do you do to solve for that “blink” mobile mentality? A fact is only so valuable … how about help dealing with it? Thankfully, there are specific tactics you can employ. Also good to know that these tips are verified from tests we’ve run at DMW, as well as being cited in a Mobile Marketing Agency MMA report

  • Craft and visualize your message to contrast with surrounding content: either delivering more complex, or more simple compositions than surrounding items;
  • Design with bold, distinct colors and graphic shapes that pop out of their surroundings;
  • Use images of people showing strong emotions: i.e., a robust belly laugh vs. a subtle Mona Lisa smile;
  • Show faces making eye contact — contrary to a current trend in brand standards calling for candid snaps of people looking away from camera. High-performing mobile ads feature human faces making eye contact, looking directly at the viewer, or “posed” and gazing toward a product. You decide which to compromise: brand graphic guidelines, or response goals.

The MMA report also encourages you to “include specific visuals that capture the brain’s attention and the importance of tapping into the “emotional brain.” To translate that into real-world execution, based on our testing, that can range from simple, graphic icons relating to benefits or services your target desires, to always-in-style heartstring images of “babies and puppies.”

Better than square ads — which do give you 78% more cubic space in a mobile feed — is 4:5 Vertical format that pretty much fills all available space!

“Truthy” Mobile Marketing Fact #4 — Your brand’s best position in any mobile ad is the First Frame — At first blush, this is indeed true. Video or static ad, if you want your brand seen, put it in what I like to call the “First Visual Gulp.” Studies clearly show it works to a brand’s advantage to be seen by the 3-second mark in a motion execution, or at first glance in a static ad. Well-known brands get the immediate response required to succeed in mobile.

First Deeper Truth: What if your brand doesn’t have the at-a-glance power of Coke, Nike, or Toyota? Like many of our clients, you may need to sell to people not already aware of or in love with your brand. In that case, you must lean on something they already know and like. One way to do it: Put your offer in the priority position. Even people with no knowledge of your brand know that they like a deal. Or, go for a sure-fire positive emotion. A top-performing ad we created for Kriser’s Natural Pet — a challenger pet e-tailer lacking brand equity — grabbed immediate positive attention with a powerful 1-2 punch of a happy puppy romping toward the viewer, paired with a promise of a money-saving coupon offer.

Second Deeper Truth: Make certain your brand is seen, not just heard. Given all the noise about how great video ads are (and they are), I deliberately referred to “First Visual Gulp” above. You cannot rely on the soundtrack to do the heavy lifting, given the high percentage of “Sound Off” mobile viewing. Similarly, using subtitles, or text supers, increases views by 12%. Don’t just tell them. Show them!

“Truthy” Mobile Marketing Fact #5 — Prime position for your CTA in mobile video? Mid-way through. A study of 300,000 videos showed that the few videos using a mid-roll call to action boasted a 17% conversion rate, vs 11% for those with a CTA just at the end. Obviously, this is more relevant in a 15-second video versus a 6-second pre-roll.

Deeper Truth: Pre-roll videos. They’re better for brand than for response. Maybe obviously, the familiar “skip ad in 5 seconds” pre-roll ads registered a minimal 3% conversion rate. It just takes a bit of sell to get people persuaded and motivated to act. In a 5-second pre-roll, you literally have the time it takes for a calm spin around in your desk chair to make a sale. Good luck! That’s a very short ride to make even an abbreviated elevator pitch. If you can make a compelling offer and provide a CTA in that time — “Save 25% today only at <YourSite.url>!” — go for it. Remember: in the pre-roll environment, mid-way is 2.5 seconds!


To maximize response — use multiple CTAs, and don’t wait until the end to make your pitch.

A final truth: winning “how-to” techniques are easier said than done.

As we see every day, it’s pretty easy to find interesting facts, studies, tips, and “how-to” techniques. I hope you’ve found this attempt to dig a little deeper into the underlying whys and hows helpful in your efforts to maximize results from your mobile marketing.

Whether your role is hands-on in creating persuasive messaging, or you’re reviewing and approving ads, always stay abreast of new studies and stats. But more importantly, knowing how to interpret and implement them is key.

Want assistance strategizing and planning, or implementing tactics and analyzing results for your next campaign? Contact the DMW team today!