Still Relying On Mobile Pop-Ups? Ibotta’s Leach Cries ‘Stop!’

The mobile rewards platform’s CEO is taking aim at banners and other digital marketing tools that refuse to die.

Consumers are exposed to nearly 2,000 banner ads every month, lamented Ibotta CEO Bryan Leach, as he challenged the audience at the Mobile Marketing Association’s New York Forum to try to remember just one that has crossed their various digital screens.

The founding head of a mobile couponing app platform would naturally view traditional ad formats with disdain, as he derided pop-up banner ads are “annoying” and “boring.”  But his session at day two of the MMA’s conference didn’t appear to spark any rebuttals — at least not publicly — to his contention that while developers, marketers, and agencies have made vast strides toward mastering mobile and in-app ads, they’re failing to read the writing on the wall.

Leach of Ibotta
IBotta’s Leach

To back up his argument, Leach showed footage of a montage of sports fans celebrating a grand victory.“This is where we [in the industry] think we are,” he said, suggesting that this was not the time for congratulatory back-pats. Leach then played a clip of a man attempting a half court shot and failing miserably. “This is where we actually are.”

It was an impactful message that captured the attention of the packed room. Disheartened chuckles followed. As he switched to a more encouraging stance, Leach added that mobile marketers have come a long way in a relatively short time. But there’s work to be done.

First, brands have got to move away from relying on mobile banner ads. Nobody likes receiving them, not even the people in this audience, Leach suggested.

“We are exposed to 1,700 banner ads each month,” Leach said. “Try to bring to mind all those ads.” He challenged. “Most likely the recall you have on those experiences is pretty limited.”

The Viewability Problem

Banner ads are intended to “build brand awareness in the periphery,” Leach said, but “according to ComScore, 54 percent of all digital advertising is never seen by the end user. You paid for the impression and got bupkis.”

The primary reason banner ads aren’t delivering, and are ultimately a waste of time for creative agencies and a waste of money for marketers, is because, Leach said, they are “patently annoying,” especially when they’re being delivered in-app.

“The reason why you go into [popular] apps is to do something that has nothing to do with learning about products or services,” Leach asserted. “When ads are served to you in that posture, your mindset is ‘I’m here on Facebook to look at my friend’s photo, or I’m on Tinder to find a date.’”

Opening an app is much like going into a store. You have a clear, distinct purpose. If you’re in a jewelry store, naturally you’re not looking for someone to come over and offer you discounted coffee beans. Is there a chance you’ll so happen to take them up on that offer? Sure, but it’s a long shot.

“Google recently announced they were experimenting with [providing a service to consumers] to avoid these ads,” Leach said, further driving his point home. “It says something when people are willing to pay to avoid exposure to a certain type of ad.”

In-App Effectiveness

What mobile marketers need to do to advertise more effectively in-app, Leach said, is to integrate advertisements into the app, and to only advertise within apps that are related to the product.

Shopping-oriented apps, he suggested, are prime real estate because there “you know you are hitting someone that is actually considering buying something that you sell.”

Leach also recommended that mobile marketers sharpen their perception of targeting. At the moment, we tend to define targeting by the following components:

  • Demographic
  • Age
  • DMA
  • Affinity
  • Purchase Data
  • Geo-location

Leach identified himself as a proponent of these traits, and said that he, like many in the industry, see geographical patterns as “the next frontier of targeting;” but, he added, “it’s important to layer in these purchase segments at a deeper level” and to “know your ad worked.”

“Is there evidence that those who saw my advertisement took an action in the real world?” Leach asked, adding that beacons are a great tool for tracking mobile ads to in-store performance, as can being directly inquisitive with consumers.

“After [your brand’s] video runs, ask the consumer if the video influenced their purchase,” Lech said. “You can then segment those answers by state, by gender, by age, and adjust accordingly. You can tailor your activations based on those learnings.”