Q&A: Neal Mohan on new digital expectations
October 09, 2013 | David Thomas | Comments
Marketing recently caught up with Neal Mohan, vice-president of product management at Google, when he was attending Advertising Week in New York. We asked him to share some insights into the major issues on marketers’ agendas and how Google and others are moving to try to respond.
How is mobile adoption changing the general approach to consumer marketing?
The rise of mobile can’t be underestimated, but the reality of the multi-device world is it’s not just about your mobile phone any more – it’s about your mobile phone, your tablet, your desktop, your laptop, your TV and whatever other devices will join the market. We’re seeing the savviest marketers design campaigns that don’t just run across these devices, but really take into account the context, and how consumers are spending time with them.
One of the biggest challenges left to solve for designing these types of cross-screen campaigns is that, traditionally, it’s been very time consuming to design different creative for each device. But tools like HTML5 or CSS3 are changing that. And the results can be beautiful – gone are the days of those early banner ads when I started in this industry.
Why is it so important for marketers to adopt a multi-screen mindset?
First of all, because users already have. Users have jumped right beyond the ‘year of mobile’ we kept hearing about and plunged feet-first into a world where they shift easily from screen to screen. A few years ago, multi-screen wasn’t even on the radar screen. Tablets were just rolling out. The US consumer was spending a mere 3.5 hours a day with digital media. But within about a thousand days, all of that changed: multi-screen media consumption increased by nearly 500% and 90% of consumers move sequentially between one device to another to complete a task whether it was shopping, planning a trip, or browsing content.
Your company is increasingly focused on its brand offerings. What kind of uptake are you seeing of large brand advertisers using digital formats?
For our part, we’ve invested heavily to show the value of using digital platforms to build brands, and we are at a tipping point. In the first quarter of this year, we saw a 65% increase in the number of brands using our brand-focused formats and tools. Unlike traditional ad formats, new digital formats, like Lightbox, drive engagement and big brands are noticing a significant CPM increase when running these types of engagement-driven ads. Also, large brand advertisers are increasingly recognizing how digital can create truly memorable and beautiful multi-screen moments, a great example of which is the Burberry Kisses experience that allows users all over the world to send messages to loved ones, sealed with digital imprints of their real kiss.
Are consumers really engaging with digital ads?
Advertisers need to earn their customers’ loyalty through choice. Today’s users live in a ‘choice economy’ where they choose the content and the ads they like to see – they are simply more in control than ever of their ads and content experiences online. And we know that the more choice we offer users, the more they engage with content. In fact, across the web we’ve found that users spend 50% more time watching videos on sites when they’re offered a choice to skip an ad or not. Embracing this fact, fully 75% of YouTube inventory today is running TrueView skippable ads.
Offering choice is a great user experience; it’s a great advertiser experience – they reach an audience that’s actually interested in their message. And it’s great for publishers as well, as advertisers are willing to pay more for those engaged views.
Marketers no longer just want to know whether their ad was served and if someone clicked on it. What are the key ways digital advertising is shifting to formats that allow enhanced viewability?
Brands and businesses want to know things like, ‘Did a person actually see my ad? How did it impact their opinion of my product?’ Viewability is foundational to better measurement. Solutions like ActiveView are helping publishers and advertisers better understand views, rather than served impressions. And for a cross-device world, measuring viewability means good news for the entire ecosystem because we’re finding that click-through-rates for viewable content is comparable, whether it’s above or below the fold or whether you have to swipe down to see it or not.
The tools now exist to give you real-time insights into what frequency, what audience segment, what formats and interactions drive effectiveness. Suddenly, measurement in the multi-screen world isn’t just creating accountability – it’s driving actionable business decisions.