Category Archives: Mobile Advertising

Jack in the Box Serves Up Some Mobile Fails

For awhile now, I’ve been receiving messages on my phone from Jack in the Box. To be honest, they are probably my favorite of all the fast food burger shops – in spite of the fact that I worked there as a kid in high school (Anyone remember when they blew up  clown and changed to Monterey Jack?).

I was mildly excited when I learned that I could join their Secret Society of Cool People where I’d be “privy to top-secret stuff like coupons, new products, and [Jack's] favorite color (Kelly green).” Plus, I like the playful non-corporate language.

Disappointment came a month later.
And again the next month.
And pretty much every time therafter.

Here’s the most recent message, in two parts.

image: Jack In The Box MMS Msg part1image: Jack In The Box MMS Msg part2

The cool thing is they are sending pictures. The not so cool thing is that the pictures look like mini versions of a tray liner.

Here are the last 4 pictures they’ve sent:

(yes, they sent the Chipotle one twice)

My biggest disappointment is that there is never an offer (no coupon). What is the point of these? They are just ads. So after 3 months there has been no real benefit to being in Jack’s Secret Society.

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

There are a few places to focus to see where the problems lie.

1) Strategy. It’s hard to tell what sort of experience Jack wants us mobile users to have. They appear to be simply using mobile as an advertising media, implying that they only want to put their name and products in front of people. A really, really, bad strategy when using MMS or SMS, which are the most personal of mobile media. Rather, Jack should be true to their original promise of delivering coupons and other Secret Society stuff and providing a special VIP-like experience.

2) Execution. On the heels of a good strategy is the ability to track success. With Jack’s current approach there is little to track other than, perhaps, whether the messages are being delivered but not all mobile operators provide consistent delivery reports. If Jack can start driving store traffic by turning these ads into coupons then the ability to track will require an in-store process and potentially integration with their point-of-sale system; a worthwhile effort IMHO.

 

Central Security Distributors Not So Secure – FAIL

Any smartphone owner who’s downloaded a handful of apps will acknowledge the advertising that is present on most free apps. They are very much like banner ads on regular (i.e. non-mobile) web sites. And my guess is that they get about the same amount of intentional clicks, if not fewer. My personal theory is that mobile ads receive clicks (taps on a touch screen) because:
1) they are tapped accidentally,
2) new smartphone owners are tapping on things just to see how they work
These clicks are not from people truly interested in the product or service being promoted. Again, only a personal theory.

So, like many smartphone owners I’ve downloaded a free alarm clock app, which has ads. And true to my theory, I accidentally tapped this ad from CSD (Central Security Distributors) who apparently sells security systems from Paradox:

image: Paradox Security Mobile Ad

Here’s what I got. Keep in mind this is an offer for security products.

image: Paradox Security Mobile Ad Fail

Whoa! Wait a minute. A security warning on a site that sells security products? Yikes.

Fail #1.

If you look behind the certificate you’ll see the other, more common problem: a non-mobile web site. Even if I did continue in spite of the warning I’d be in for a terrible experience at a full web site that has shrunk itself to the size of my phone screen. No way.

Fail #2.

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What could have saved this campaign?

The problems with this campaign stem from, I believe, a single point of failure. This is an Adwords campaign. You can tell by the Google+ “+1″ stuff off to the left of the ad and the arrow that points to the right indicating that you will be going somewhere, which is Google’s way of letting you know you’ll be ‘taken somewhere.’

Here’s what happened: whoever set up the Adwords campaign for CSD didn’t realize that Adwords will automatically put your ad on mobile phones unless you specify otherwise (generally a bad move on Google’s part). Here’s what that looks like in the Adwords system:

image: Adwords Devices Options

The default is “All available devices” and is unfortunately recommended by Google. The marketer at CSD just accepted the default not realizing that any clicks from a mobile device would be 100% wasted due to the issues described above.

Aside from the issue of why the ad was on a mobile device is why the site has an invalid security certificate associated with the content on the site. This is just bad web programming and particularly egregious for a firm selling security products.

Oddly, a similar thing happened with American Express.

Angry Birds Ads On Kindle Fire – FAIL

My wife received a Kindle Fire as a Christmas (er, Holiday) gift last year from her employer. It’s been interesting to see what role it plays among all our other devices such as the much larger iPad and the much smaller smartphones. So far its role is one of a time-killer (i.e. games) and list keeper (it’s great for shopping). As far as games go we have many for our 3yr old and one for us older types, Angry Birds by Rovio. Of course, we have the free version(s) of Angry Birds. I may be inclined to pay for it if I could install and use it on any of my devices but as it is I’d need to buy it multiple times. Sorry Rovio.

The free version is ad supported. No surprise there. But there’s a problem with the ads. Many don’t appear to fit. That is, the actual ad is too big for the screen real-estate allocated for displaying it. Here’s what I mean:

image: Angry Birds mobile ad fail 1

Uh, buy one what?

And,

image: Angry Birds mobile ad fail 2

Hmm. Something about avocados at Subway.

Then,

image: Angry Birds mobile ad fail 3

At least we know the price on this one. Finally, I tapped one of these misfit ads. What happened next made sense at first; I was taken to the Android Market (now call ed Google Play) – Kindle Fire runs on the Android operating system – where I could presumably download the game. But when I tried to install I only saw my Nexus S smartphone listed in available devices. My Kindle Fire wasn’t listed.

image: Rovio Ad Network Fail

Confused, I just backed my way out and continued playing Angry Birds.

Is this the experience advertisers can expect when placing ads in Rovio games?

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

It’s a little difficult to tell what exactly is going on here and who is responsible for what but here’s what I think is happening: Rovio’s advertising production system doesn’t realize I’m playing on a Kindle Fire and is serving ads designed for Android smartphones. This easily explains why I was taken to Google Play instead of the Amazon apps store. Amazon, like Apple, has created a closed ecosystem for accessing content for the Kindle Fire and you can’t get apps from the Android Market.

It isn’t quite as easy to explain why the ads don’t fit, though. The physical ad space seems about the same as space on the phone version. One of two things is happening: 1) Rovio is up-scaling the ads because the device is larger even though the space is the same or 2) Rovio is serving the wrong version (i.e. size) of the ad. Either way, the process is breaking. And pretty frequently. Nine of the ten different ads I saw were misfits! And I probably saw each ad 3-5 times. Do advertisers realize that 90% of their paid impressions are being wasted on Kindle Fire?

The fix goes all the way back to the advertiser. If, as an advertiser, you know that you have purchased space on the Rovio ad network it is your duty to test those ads on the devices you know it will show up on. Then, hold the ad network/publisher accountable for failures.

What do you think is happening here?

Microsoft Launches a Mobile Advertising FAIL

I have a lot of apps on my Samsung/Google Nexus S. A couple are paid but the remainder are all free. Free due to advertising. These apps contain advertising slots that the developer hopes to sell to advertisers in order to generate a positive return. Alarm Clock Extreme Free is a perfect example. The bottom 1/6th of their app is dedicated to ads. Like one from Microsoft:

Microsoft Mobile Ad

I saw the ad above and thought, ‘ok, I’ve heard some decent stuff about Microsoft’s  Mango, let’s check it out.’  Tapping the ad I was asked first if I wanted to ‘View Ad,’ which was a little confusing because I’d just tapped the silly thing – of course I wanted to see the ad. Not sure if this is a function of the ad or a creation of the minds in Redmond, WA. but it seems like an unnecessary second step.

I tap ‘View Ad’ and, as expected, I’m whisked off to the land of my Windows Mobile 7 dreams.

Or not.

image: MSFT Site Cert

Now, I know that this  warning has its purpose and with only nacent experience clicking on mobile banner ads I try clicking ‘Cancel’. Bad idea. The same warning just kept coming up repeatedly, like a pop-up from a spam site that doesn’t want you to go away, and I never actually got to the site. I should have bailed at this point but it was starting to get interesting. Backing out, I found myself back in the Alarm Clock app looking at the same banner ad. Tapping it again and seeing the same warning I try ‘Continue’ and, thankfully it looks like I’m moving past the error message.

And onto a full website for Microsoft Store. Yikes.

image: MSFT Site

Yeah. This isn’t going to happen. Where are the goods on Windows Phone 7 “Mango”?? I’m at a storefront homepage, or so it seems (it’s very small).

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

It’s hard to tell what happened with this campaign. Here are my theories:

  1. (This is bad.) The marketer who set up the ad campaign didn’t realize that it might be seen from a mobile device. Given the gravity that success for Windows Phone carries for the Redmond giant this may be inexcusable.
  2. (This is worse.) The marketer actually knew that the ad would be seen from a mobile device, thought it was an awesome idea and did nothing. This marketer should be fired.

This could be a classic case of applying what we know about web advertising to the mobile environment but it appears that even the web portion has escaped the brains at Microsoft or, more likely, their agency.

  1. There is no payoff. Warning message aside, there is nothing that treats us to Windows Phone 7 and all its glory. We are simply shuttled to a home page. Of all channels, mobile needs to show value.
  2. Security certificates. These are incredibly important for eCommerce sites. They secure transaction and payment information from casual hackers. But this home page doesn’t need to be secure at this point. Nothing has happened. There should NOT be certificate validation at the entry point to a site where I may just want to browse products in relative anonymity.
  3. This landing site was not built for access from a mobile device. The remedy is obvious. Do NOT advertise on mobile devices if you’re not ready to give the user an experience designed for mobile.