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The Secret to In-App Ads Your Customers Will Actually Try (Part 1)

Despite the fact that mobile games have been in common use for over a decade, the concept of in-app ads is something that most companies are still figuring out. A key part of your mobile marketing strategy, ads that are embedded into mobile apps are the primary way to get your content viewed by a user on their mobile phone. However, when it comes to most marketing campaigns, simply being seen isn't enough. Your goal is for users to see your ads, enjoy them, and 'tap' them to explore what you have to offer. However, the vast majority of in-app ads are unappealing and distracting in one way or another because companies haven't figured out how to provide what customers are really looking for: a combination of value and engagement.

Forget About the Captive Audience

The captive audience is a sort of sick dream of the marketing industry, the idea that you have potential customers who don't have any choice but to read or watch your ad all the way through. You may not be able to force them to click but you can hold their content or experience hostage until the ad has thoroughly registered in their minds. This is the wrong approach and modern consumers hate being treated like commercialism captives.

It's important to remember that unlike, say, a movie theater, app users always have a choice and if an app is dominated by 'capture' ads that stop all content and interaction, they will simply uninstall the app and find nearly identical one that doesn't have those ads.

Modern consumers are choice driven. They look up how to DIY everything on Google, they find directions without asking by using navigation apps, and making a thousand tiny choices a day from coffee flavor to which route to take home has become a way of life. Being a captive audience just isn't the way things are done anymore and have no doubt, your 'leads' will absolutely close any ad or ad-riddled app that doesn't give them the choices they prefer.

The good news is that you can still use in-app ads both in your own apps and buy spots in other apps. You just need to do it with consideration for an enjoyable customer experience.

Can the Circus Colors

The key to successful in-app marketing is to realize that the old ways are gone and it's time to adapt to a whole new generation of customers. To that end, brightly colored ad banners with flashing lights and moving parts is so 2000's it's ridiculous. Most millennials and now the children of millennials are inured to that sort of thing and have learned to either ignore or simply be irritated by completely tone-deaf attention seeking behavior from advertisements.

Look at successful magazine and website banner ads today. Often the really good ones have muted tones, instead using interesting shapes and intriguing phrases to catch the eye rather than the whole circus act of bright colors and flashing lights.

Rather than looking to 'grab' the user's attention, your design should integrate smoothly with the UI of the app you're advertising in whether it's your own or someone else's. Choose a similar color scheme and design, consider even making your ad look like a button for the game.

If you want to catch attention, use interesting and engaging content and unless you're advertising to a very young crowd, stay away from the whole animated monkey thing. That was over in the 00's, too.

The content and style of your in-app ads should be as targeted to the app as it is to your target audience. It's important to keep in mind who will be using the app and the mindset they'll be in in order to make well-integrated advertising. Of course, this is only the first half of our two-part article on making mobile ads that will be appreciated rather than despised. Join us next time for the second half where we'll cover adding value, choices, and your CTA. For more information about mobile ads and mobile development, contact us today!