Mobile ads you can touch – Josh Stivers from Immersion shares his predictions for 2018

Anne Freier

In Mobile Advertising

December 8, 2017


2018 is already shaping up to be an exciting year for mobile advertising as new technologies such as touch feedback and augmented reality (AR) find further implementation.
Immersion, the developer of haptic technology, expects touch feedback enhanced mobile ads to be one of the big trends next year. We’ve spoken to Josh Stivers, Video Advertising Product Management and Platforms at Immersion, about his predictions for 2018.

  1. What are the mobile advertising trends for 2018?

According to a recent IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers report published earlier this year, digital advertising and mobile advertising revenue surpassed TV for the first time. Many in advertising are creating brand new formats to get in front of consumer eyeballs, while trying to stay behind the fine line of consumer annoyance. This is where and when the advertising industry gets creative.
We introduced haptics to the advertising market in 2014, and while we’re still in the infancy of exploring all the different ways we can apply touch to advertising, we’ve made some significant headway in the technology application and the market relevance. As we dive deeper in our research, we are finding that the impact goes past the surface level, impacting people on a neurological and behavioral level. This is not unexpected. Touch has a strong impact on our feelings and Immersion’s TouchSense Ads are effective in reaching consumers at an emotional level. However, we’ve yet to unpack all the possibilities and implications for brands. What we know so far is that consumers’ reaction to haptics runs deeper than just feeling the car engine rev, or bombs blast. While the data shows improved performance in haptic ads, we know that there can be an even closer tie to brand messaging and storytelling.
TouchSense Ads are befitting from a new era of engaging advertising. For marketers, the creative and ad campaign stakes are higher, and designing brand messages in every element of a creative piece is required to maximize value and get ad views. The advertising market is exploring intuitive ways to get more interactive and entertaining. It’s exciting to see, and be in a part of the industry, as we come up with a new way of thinking in how we target and engage with consumers.

  1. How can current technologies be improved?

Most mobile devices already have the mechanics necessary required to create rich haptic experiences – in the form of an actuator (the vibrate motor). The quality of the actuators in the majority of mobile phones today are fully capable of high-fidelity haptics, however, not enough attention has been put into designing a touch experience. There’s much more to haptic design than making your phone rumble. Haptic design offers broad capabilities, such as mood haptics, tempo, action, directional attention, etc. for advertisers to get their message across to consumers. As advertising creatives and marketers develop content, they need to ask: What is the touch experience that I want to create? What is the interaction? How can I make my content more engaging and impactful?
In the near future, we will be designing for ads in AR and VR experiences, but there’s still some work to be done on the devices/peripherals to optimize the experience for haptics. Today’s game controllers are advancing, but they do not yet have the mechanical capabilities to create a truly believable immersive experience. The industry is actively working on this. In the meantime, Immersion is pushing forward in improving design capabilities for these future machines – with the vision that the industry will narrow the gap with the implementation of more functionality and features that offer the nuanced digital touch experience consumers crave.
As the market expands into emerging areas of digital advertising, such as AR/VR, the quality of the haptics will be more pronounced.

  1. What are the benefits for the advertiser?

Multiple third-party user studies have shown that the addition of haptics to video advertising produces significant lifts in important KPI’s such as engagement, brand favorability and purchase intent. In a study we commissioned with IPG and Magna, we found that:

  • Engaging the third sense (touch) in video advertising produced a halo effect on consumers’ brand perception, and a greater sense of excitement and happiness.
  • Qualitative feedback from the study’s participants showed that a haptic experience elicits more excitement and happiness in people than those who viewed an ad without haptic effects.
  • 38 percent of participants were excited and 44 percent were happy when viewing a haptic video ad, as opposed to 30 percent of respondents feeling excited when viewing a standard video ad, and 37 percent feeling happy when viewing non-haptic ads.

Clearly, the growing opportunity for brands is sensory-storytelling. From the campaigns that we’ve run, we’ve learned that greater alignment with brand value and message improves the potential for success. As the market grows, there will be a stronger need to target, focus, optimize for the digital advertising platforms on the market today and in the future. The haptics in ads will continue to grow as the interaction models change, but the intrinsic value of touch does not change. By adding in the sense of touch, marketers can engage the user’s attention and stand out in a noisy, crowded landscape. The sense of touch connects with consumers at a deep level in the same way that music impacts ambience and mood.

  1. What are the advantages for the consumer?

The focus on creative storytelling will bring strong benefit to consumers. Creatives understand that ads are content – content with a brand message. And in order for consumers to want to watch, the content needs to be engaging and entertaining. Touch adds a new level of excitement. It connects with viewers. Haptics in mobile video is similar to adding surround sound to a movie. Once experienced, it becomes noticeable when absent, and users feel the experience is not as exciting and engaging. Touch has the unique capability to bring all the elements together and heighten the senses in the experience. Feeling it, hearing it and seeing it creates a full sensory experience.

  1. What do you think will be the biggest trend in mobile advertising in 2018?

In 2018 brands will fully embraced the shift to a mobile-first world, enabling them to create strategies which focus specifically on this channel, of which haptic touch effects will play a major role.  At the same time traditional ad formats, sizes are being reinvented, with native advertising formats, increasingly leveraging user-generated content.
With the emergence of much stricter user privacy guidelines in the US, following the EUs lead, we will start to see early executions of AI-based, dynamically-contracted and targeted ads that initially rely heavily on old methods of contextual targeting, while collecting the new data sets required to carefully navigate a privacy-focused world.
New restrictions and consumer push back on ads will force advertisers to be more creative with their ad content, how they distribute ads, and how they grab the user’s attention. We’ll see more innovation and better content than ever before.