HTC recently revealed one of the most unusual smartphones the industry has ever seen. The U11 responds to a new type of interaction; designed to be squeezed by users through ‘Edge Sense’ technology. Earlier this year, Samsung brought Iris and facial recognition scanners to the mainstream and shook things up with their 5.8-inch, all-screen ‘infinity display’ – which suddenly made devices with a dedicated home button look old fashioned.

It’s clear that smartphone technology is evolving at a fast pace, and it won’t be long before the former cultural phenomenon of tapping, swiping and pinching becomes replaced by other interactions. Change brings with it implications for mobile campaign planning. The challenge for marketers will be to think about going beyond just inviting users to click. Being at the forefront of this evolution in mobile advertising will rely on mobile marketers’ abilities to make greater use of new functions, as well as new data streams available to them.

Backed up by research from our proprietary platform SparkFlow shows that ads which make use of native smartphone functions drive better results. These campaigns can have up to 50x higher click-through rates than those using formats like expandable banners alone.

When users are engaging with your ads outside of clicks alone, their engagements are typically more meaningful. Research from System1 revealed that 95% of consumer purchase decisions come from emotional reactions. Communications that accommodate native functions are therefore more likely to make an impression on device users. For instance, we’ve found that smartphone functions commonly used in gaming apps have great potential for producing ads that generate high engagement. With this in mind, marketers who use these functions more broadly will see their mobile campaigns go from strength to strength.

A 360-degree view

Accelerometers can be used to measure the extent to which a device is moved when tilted, twisted, etc. correlating this with on-screen images. This has huge potential for advertisers who can use the function to create a 360-degree 3D scene – inviting users inside to explore it. This throws up some interesting opportunities for advertisers to showcase locations, vehicles, buildings or products in their creative. The prospect of offering users virtual tours through their mobile devices remains relatively untouched but brings with it significant potential. Putting users in control of their ad experience is arguably a better way of delivering messages and a more attractive notion to consumers.

Shaking things up

Shaking a device is another, much more tactile experience using accelerometers. Replicating real-world actions allows an advertiser to offer bespoke content that is, again, within the user’s control. Drinks brands are well suited to leverage the smartphone’s native shake function in exchange for exclusive content. When these capabilities are paired with the right creative, consumers are drawn in and given a compelling reason to connect with the brand. The results can be hugely effective, engaging and memorable.

Personalising the message

Asking users to become part of the creative process within a mobile ad is another relatively unused function within mobile advertising. Sophisticated tools including multi-touch sensors are programmed into modern devices; giving us the ability to draw directly onto a smartphone screen with a finger. Users are invited to put their stamp on a brand experience, which is perhaps one of the most engaging ways of executing a mobile ad campaign.

Fashion and beauty brands are well positioned to take advantage of this tech. Make-up brands could ask users to apply foundation to an avatar to reduce the appearance of blemishes; lipstick manufacturers could ask users to draw images on their phone using a branded lipstick – all to unlock exclusive content.

So what’s next?

In native mobile advertising, the marketers willing to push the boundaries and combine great creativity with the opportunities the latest tech has to offer will reap the rewards. The launch of the HTC U11 has brought with it an entirely new method of phone interaction; the first of its kind to use touch in this way. Even greater opportunities for improved and immersive advertising experiences on mobile will continue to emerge. Combined with the vast amounts of data available, brands can create a truly memorable, personal and relevant experience for consumers.

By next year, we’ll be planning mobile campaigns using entirely new technology and this is hugely exciting – allowing advertisers to become pioneers in a new a world of mobile tech.


By Rob Garber, managing director EMEA at Undertone

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