Mobile advertising recall and a call to action for Creatives

 In advertising

Just what is the effectiveness of mobile advertising?  What is the recall?

This question was asked of me recently by a well known planner for a big agency in London.  It is a good question because this is just what clients will be asking him after a campaign – how was our money spent?  Where and when did people experience our brand?  Did they have a higher recall of the brand after seeing a targeted and relevant mobile advertisement versus a standard mobile web banner?

I’ve been mulling this question for a while and have engaged with some of the leading quantitative research companies, and I have also been asking this question of thought leaders in the analytics space like Jouko Ahvenainen who is one of the co-founders of Xtract, with whom I shared lunch with recently.

In preparing this post, I also considered a recent experience in the London underground with the Digital Escalator Panels or DEP’s from CBS Outdoor.  I have written about the DEP’s before, but only now have I been considering them in a different light – and comparing them to mobile advertising.

Let me explain…

For many years on the underground in London, there have been standard 1 sheet posters on the walls next to the escalators – so as you travel up or down from the underground (normal “dwell” time on an escalator in London is between 30 and 90 seconds) you see a number of posters.  Sometimes each are different, or are displayed in groups of three, or the creative may be mixed up.

Over the last few years, Viacom – now CBS Outdoor have been investing significant money in DEPs that consist of multiple LCD displays, all linked up so each panel can show the same creative, different creative on each screen or a mix.

I have seen a number of really smart campaigns that are engaging – you actually DO read the panels, and as I did the other day, I tested myself on the recall of the DEPs versus normal 1 sheet posters.

I can recall from a trip up Oxford Circus station that I saw digital ads for

  • John Lewis “if you know the person you’ll find the present” – a simple and effective tag line in itself
  • Argos Christmas madness (10 seconds of mad Christmas shopping)
  • The “I’m a PC” campaign from Microsoft

I can’t honestly say that I can remember any of the static creative on the traditional paper posters.  It shows that the moving images spread across LCD panels as you climb an escalator can be engaging.

As CBS outdoor says in their media kit, “Empty moments don’t come along very often in the lives of Londoners but Digital Escalator Panels (DEPs) capture these elusive moments”.  Very true.

So – how do I make the link between Digital Escalator Panels and mobile advertising?

Consider this real mobile internet banner – currently running on one of my mobile sites:

Pretty boring isn’t it – a bit like those static advertising posters I mentioned above.

What we need for mobile creative is something engaging, something worth passing onto a friend – something that will aid recall and drive product purchase!

I’m not a creative – but we need those of us who cut great ads for a living to start experimenting with creative that will have the sort of effect and recall that the digital panels in the tube had on me and deliver this type of experience on a mobile phone.

If you’re a creative and want a free canvas to play with, I’m currently running a UK mobile advertising trial and I’m looking for some engaging full screen creative in GIF or PNG format that is 176 x 208 pixels in size.  Please contact me to get involved and see your creative on mobile screens around the world.


Based in London, The Actionable Futurist and former Global Managing Partner at IBM, Andrew Grill is a popular and sought-after presenter and comementator on issues around digital disruption, workplace of the future and new technologies such as blockchain. Andrew is a multiple TEDx and International Keynote Speaker.