El mundo móvil: How LatAm gets creative with mobile ads

What is the mobile advertising creative process like in Latin America? We spoke with Gonzalo Borras, our team lead in the Buenos Aires office, about how creativity translates across continents and cultures.

Opera House's Gonzalo Borras

“It’s different here”

Regarding the time we need to build ads, well, okay, it’s the same as in the U.S. or Europe. But in those regions things are much more organized; you have time to build mockups and send a demo to the client. Here, clients want to see the real ad, they want to see their brand in the unit. So, we just go ahead and build the media itself and send it directly to the advertiser. It’s the best way right now to help them understand all the creative possibilities.

Another big difference is the variation in carrier speeds. In the U.S. and EMEA, mobile carriers are all pretty fast. Here we have to be more careful about optimizing our rich media to be able to run on the speed that the operator offers, which in many cases is even a shade under 3G.

“Pre-existing assets? Sure, send ‘em over”

One of the biggest challenges we face is the expectation that we can simply adapt existing assets to mobile. Now, sure, our creative team is absolutely mobile-first, and that is an embedded skill that comes with the package — we know what works on mobile, we consider all of the different device types and screen sizes, and we can do magic with rich media.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 5.31.27 PM.png
Nespresso Mobile Campaign

But nine times out of ten we aren’t even given the assets to work with!  So we have to be scrappy. It’s actually one of the things we’re known for. We get creative on how to source the right assets and work with it!

“Creativity has become more important, not less, as mobile has evolved”

Creativity in advertising used to be about the superficial impression, or in its greater moments, the story you were telling the consumer and the emotion you were getting them to feel. And in the beginning, mobile had the same goals — just with a smaller screen, which of course, made it more difficult.

What’s so exciting now is that we’ve evolved way beyond that, and marketers are starting to truly understand mobile’s core benefits. When you leverage the device’s native functionality (e.g., the gyroscope, camera, accelerometer, GPS) it allows you to engage with your audience in entirely new ways.

We also have so much more data than ever before, and what that does for targeting is amazing. With mobile, you have anonymous data on people’s actions, interests and location. If, for example, a device is on a WiFi connection at 12pm on a Tuesday, you can safely guess they are at their workplace, possibly about to take a lunch break, so serving them an ad for a quick-service restaurant in their area would make great sense.

“FYI…we invented the selfie”

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 5.29.52 PM.png

Did you know that? It’s true. Here in Latin America the autofoto, or selfie, was the “it” thing to do,well before you all went crazy over it. So when we quickly put together the selfie ad unit for the World Cup in Brazil, we knew it would be a big hit. Who wouldn’t want their face on a Brazilian, Mexican or Argentinian football team jersey, for example?

So those are really popular. Animation is also a hot commodity right now, and not everyone is offering that. I think what’s going to be big next is the motion unit. The user activates the camera, moves his head in front of it, and some special element will show in the ad. There are also going to be more around music, where you see a piano or guitar and can play it, all within the ad itself. Lots of cool interactivity on the horizon!

“How much can (or should) you really fit on a 320X50?”

There was one time that a client asked for images of four different cars, a whole bunch of copy and of course their logo… all on a 320X50. And there were also some legal disclaimers that had to be included as part of the message, too.

I think there is still a big disconnect in the industry about how to do a lot with very little. Tons of content — but with little space. Cool, innovative ad units, but lacking a significant budget. And, as I mentioned earlier, a rich media execution, but without the existing assets. That is where our creative team is really challenged and has to rise to the occasion in order to make something we are all proud of.

Gonzalo Borras is the Business Development Manager at Opera Mediaworks LATAM.


Two Decades of Opera Software


20 years of Opera Software

Today, we are proud to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our parent company, Opera Software.

Back in 1995, Opera Software was a division of a Norwegian communications company called Telenor. It was founded by two guys named Jon and Geir with a vision to bring the best internet experience to any device, regardless of location or network conditions. The first version of Opera was actually named MultiTorg Opera, and was run on a floppy disk (remember those?). Originally, the Opera browser required payment after an initial free trial.

20 years later, Opera has become a worldwide brand associated with bringing innovation and creativity to the web space. Synonymous with “the internet” in many regions, Opera Software now boasts 350 million users worldwide, across a diverse group of products.

Expansion across platforms

Since its inception, Opera Software has rapidly expanded its product offerings. With the ever-changing nature of the internet, Opera has adapted from its origin as a desktop browser. One of Opera’s most successful products is Opera Mini. Launched in 2005, Opera Mini gave internet access to even those with the most basic phones. In one year, Opera Mini was able to reach 1 million users and has not looked back since. Today, Opera Mini  helps 269 million people surf the web.

Corporation… with a personality

As a Norwegian brand in a world of massive internet giants, Opera Software has always been a brand that likes to have fun with its users. One of Opera’s distinctive features was the Opera community forums. It gave Opera fans the opportunity to talk directly with Opera employees as well as fellow Opera lovers.

Opera showcased this friendly personality, as it also served as a mailing board for fans who had mis-addressed their mail to the popular TV show host, Oprah Winfrey. Over 150 pieces of mail had mistakenly found their way to Opera employees, who thought they were reaching out to Oprah. As expected, Opera employees had some fun with this, reaching back to these fans who were surely ecstatic as they looked at their inbox with an email from who they thought to be, Oprah Winfrey.

Opera Mediaworks is born

In 2010, Opera Software announced its first mobile ad acquisition:, AdMarvel, Inc. and the mobile advertising division of Opera was born. Since then, Opera Mediaworks has grown organically while also acquiring a number of companies, including Mobilike and AdColony, all of which have contributed to Opera Mediaworks’ growing success. In Q2 2015 Opera Mediaworks hit revenues of $92.9 million USD, showing 83% year-over-year growth . As the world of mobile advertising expands rapidly, Opera Mediaworks has positioned itself as a major player in this sector.

Opera Mediaworks is extremely proud of the legacy of innovation Opera Software has provided to millions of mobile web users, and hope that we can carry the same impact on the mobile advertising industry when we reach our 20 years.

To see the blog post from Opera Software on the 20-year anniversary, click here.

Inside the Opera House: mobile creativity, innovation and advice from Jason Collar

What does it  take to be creative in the mobile advertising industry? We caught up with Jason Collar, one of Opera House’s Senior Creative Directors, to pick his brain on mobile creativity and get his advice to those who’d like to start their careers in the creative industry. 

Opera Mediaworks_Opera House_Jason Collar

“Being creative requires an open mind”

A designer can’t be afraid to try something new and must be willing to push boundaries.  When it comes to mobile creativity, our designers constantly challenge themselves to see what’s possible.

Each project will always have its own set of challenges; at times clients have conflicting call to actions (CTAs) or executions. In this case, we work closely with them to streamline the concept and develop a unit true to their goal.

We’ll look at the requirements and pull together various ideas. If we have to create or modify assets, we’ll take the extra time to ensure the ad renders correctly, or develop custom executions. Our team will find the appropriate solution. Not all ideas work, but we are always learning, testing and adapting to find the perfect balance between mobile capabilities and concepts.

“Mobile ad capabilities have progressed tremendously”

Mobile ads of today have grown by leaps and bounds. They tap into the device’s native functions, video quality has improved, dynamic capabilities are now possible and responsive units have become the norm. The difference today is advertisers and designers have higher expectations; everyone has a better understanding of what mobile advertising can accomplish.

With developers and designers working together, features such as the gyroscope, camera, voice activation, and vibration help make mobile advertising exciting.

Opera Mediaworks_Wheat Thins_Mobile Campaign

Opera Mediaworks_Lufthansa Selfie Mobile CampaignEmerging technologies have vastly improved the overall experience on mobile devices. The use of the camera capability, which was leveraged in the Lufthansa Selfie campaign, allowed users to take a selfie against a backdrop of a destination of their liking. With the Wheat Thins campaign, users were able to experience a new product by using the device’s gyroscope capability by tilting the device left and right. (Both units where shortlisted in the IAB Mixx Awards in consecutive years) With new technology such as motion ads, facial recognition, beacons, and mCommerce hitting the market, the storytelling will only improve.

“Technical constraints are an open door for innovation”

With emerging technologies comes technical constraints. We take these constraints as opportunities to innovate, resulting in a richer execution and a happier client. We do this by creating ads with low file weights (under 200KB), strong and clear messaging, simple but effective animation —  all driving the main KPIs.

“Keep an open mind. Inspiration can come from anywhere”

My advice to those who’d like to start their career in the creative industry, take the time to work on passion projects, keep challenging yourself and never stop adding to your portfolio. Don’t be afraid to take risks by adding additional elements to the creative. If you think there is a better way to accomplish the goal, express it. But, make sure your idea is concrete and well thought out.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a fresh set of eyes to look at what you’ve been working on, this will help you from getting stuck on one concept. Learn to be flexible and adapt to the industry.

Never stop learning. Subscribe to creative blogs, continue to take classes and keep an open mind. Inspiration can come from anywhere. But, most importantly, have fun and enjoy what you do!

For more information about Opera House, Opera Mediaworks’ global creative studio, email us at operahouse@opera.com.

 Jason Collar is the Sr. Creative Director in New York at Opera Mediaworks.

Opera Mediaworks continues strong growth in Q2 2015; Heavy focus on video and performance advertising, revenues up 83%

Today, Opera Software, Opera Mediaworks’ parent company, reported financial results for Q2 2015. Opera Mediaworks, Opera Software’s U.S.-headquartered mobile advertising subsidiary, showed strong growth for the parent company contributing 64% of Opera Software total revenues of $146 million in Q2 2015.

Here are some key numbers:

  • Opera Mediaworks reported revenues of $92.9 million, up 83% over Q2 2014
  • Overall Opera Software (publicly listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange) revenue was $146.2 million, up from $100.6 million year over year (45% increase). Adjusted EBITDA was $29.5 million in Q2 2015 compared to $27 million in Q2 2014.
  • This quarter the Opera Mediaworks platform surpassed the billion mark in reach with 1.1 billion monthly active users (an increase of 110% quarter over quarter)
  • The number of apps and websites powered by the Opera Mediaworks platform now exceeds 19,000 in Q2 2015, versus 17,000 in Q2 2014
  • More than 100 million installs to the app economy with quality and scale, second only to Facebook
Opera Mediaworks showed 83% growth yoy in revenue

Opera Mediaworks showed 83% growth year over year in revenue

Opera Mediaworks also announced today the expansion of its platform to include a complete marketing automation solution to app developers. This addition will enable game and app developers to not only monetize their mobile properties to their best potential, but also drive more retention and engagement with their users.

This new offering is delivered through a new platform leveraging the assets of AdColony, Opera Mediaworks and the team from Yvolver, which recently became a part of Opera Mediaworks.

Video shows steady and robust growth

This quarter, again, Opera Mediaworks demonstrated strong growth in revenues from mobile video advertising resulting from higher pricing and margins. In Q2 2014, only 9% of Opera Mediaworks’ revenues came from video advertising, in sharp contrast to Q2 2015 where 58% of revenues came from mobile video.

Brands are increasing spending towards video driven by sectors such as CPG, Financial Services, Tech and Entertainment. Some key customer wins included Unilever, American Express, Google, ABC and Wells Fargo.

58% of Q2 2015 revenues came from video

58% of Q2 2015 revenues came from video

Revenues from Opera Mediaworks Instant-Play™ HD technology (from the AdColony acquisition a year ago) nearly doubled from Q1 to Q2.

Some other key performing areas for the business were:

  • Global expansion continued with acquisition of Mobilike in Turkey and Opera Mediaworks APAC team showed impressive growth of 72% over Q1 2015
  • Several significant initiatives established Opera Mediaworks’ position in the programmatic space with revenue from programmatic partners in Q2 increasing by 6X in two months
  • The publisher platform showed promise with 14% of publisher customers bringing in more than $1 million in revenue

Continued dominance on driving app installs

Last but not the least, Opera Mediaworks continued to hold its no. 1 position as the leading mobile video platform for driving app installs in terms of quality and quantity. Working with 85% of the top grossing apps globally, the company continued to see quarter-over-quarter growth of 3X for campaigns worth $5 million and more and new account growth of 30%.

79% growth in performance advertisers yoy

79% growth in performance advertisers year over year

Compared to the same quarter last year, the Opera Mediaworks performance business had 79% more advertisers, and 133% more of advertisers that spent more than $1 million on the platform.

All in all, the company provided an optimistic view of the second half of the year and beyond, focused on growing its core business and overcoming challenges in slower growth segments.

“With our performance this past quarter, we continue to be the biggest independent mobile ad platform in the world – delivering strong year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter growth in revenue and profits,” said CEO Mahi de Silva. “We continue to remain optimistic for the second half of the year as we expand our portfolio of offerings and customers expand their spend towards the holiday season.”

More information on the Opera Software earnings can be found here.

Pixels, processors, smoke and sprites: Opera House’s Doug Manson reveals mobile’s creative secret sauce

Who says mobile ads can’t be gorgeous? Certainly not Doug Manson, who heads up the Opera House team in the U.S. As senior creative director, Manson is tasked with turning client visions into mobile ad realities – and making sure that the campaigns are as visually interesting as they are functional. Here, he shares his take on how a combination of art, science, innovation and most importantly – client interaction – powers the best mobile creative. 

Sr. Creative Director of Opera House, Doug Manson

“No one wants to see a pixelated JPEG”

 Ninety-eight percent of clients want real creativity.

 They may have different levels of involvement – for example, some clients have their ad units already set up, while others are more interested in letting us run with a concept – but everyone cares.

On the brand side, they’re usually very detailed and particular – down to knowing things like how many seconds they’d like a particular element to be animated, or whether a frame has enough smoke or flicker. Without those little details, they feel like their ad units don’t shine.

Now, there is that two percent that will just say: “Here, take this JPEG and make it work …” But for the most part, everyone wants to be in that upper echelon and have their ad units look stunning. No one wants to see a pixelated JPEG.

“Bad creative can drive some really good conversions”

Back to that two percent though. The funny thing is that their JPEG may be awful, but bad creative can drive some really good conversions – especially when it’s targeted effectively.

Creativity is subjective, but there are some baselines for what makes a video or rich media ad unit look polished. Sometimes you get a creative unit from a client that they just want to put out – and you know you can do a much better job – but they just go with it. Then they get a double-digit app install rate, or a see a huge lift in brand awareness, and you’re blown away.

At first it seems like no rhyme or reason. But then you realize it was the audience segmentation, or targeting – because honest to God, it couldn’t be that unpolished ad – and it makes more sense. That’s the thing with mobile. The technology behind the ad units is just as much a part of a campaign’s success as the creative.

“When we started out, just getting one sprite on screen without lag was amazing”

Mobile ad technology is advancing so fast, but sometimes I think makes us short-sighted.

Take something as simple as a looping sprite – or an animation like a Ferris wheel spinning, or a bird flying. Today, having 10 or 15 different things happening onscreen without a loss of quality or processing power is the norm. But when we started out, just getting one sprite onscreen without lag was amazing!

We take things like being able to create ad units that respond when a user taps, tilts, rotates or shakes for granted. Clients push us, and we push ourselves – but as we continue to innovate, I do think it’s helpful to look at how far we’ve come as an industry in just the past two years.

“Sometimes you’ve just gotta hack around it”

That said, waiting for technology to catch up to the collective creative vision is the toughest thing. Sometimes you’ve just gotta hack around it – and make a compromise to achieve what you’ve dreamt up.

We will come up with highly-engaging executions and use after effects to create robust custom animation and sprite assets. The real trick then becomes how to take all that and fit it into the mobile world. A place where we are bound by processing power, file weight and bandwidth across both Android and iOS.

But the thing is, you never just go back to the client and say: “No, we can’t do that.” You spend two days going back and forth with the engineers, and figure out how to make it work.

“Advertising is really what’s driving creativity in design”

I’m a designer at heart. From print and magazines, to brand design and fleshing out what a physical product should look and feel like – it’s what’s lead me to here. Now I’m designing entire mobile worlds that flash by in six seconds. And I think advertising is really what’s driving creativity in design overall.

Think about virtual reality and Oculus Rift. Right now, you’ve got people at agencies dreaming up ways to fit some kind of brand message into that world. Now hopefully, it won’t look like a “traditional” ad – but it’s that investment from the brands that inspires the creativity from the agencies.

That investment then leads to amazing concepts that push the notion of creativity on mobile, on desktop – and even in a virtual world – to a place we haven’t seen before. That’s why doing this kind of work is so much fun. We’re at the forefront of evolution in creativity and design.

Doug Manson is Senior Creative Director at AdColony, a division of Opera Mediaworks


What is the first (and last) app of the day?

Have you ever heard the panic in someone’s voice who has misplaced their smartphone? It’s as if they had lost an appendage. And for all intents and purposes, that’s sort of the case.

Today’s smartphone users carry their mobile devices everywhere and they use them for nearly everything — playing games, banking, shopping, searching and enjoying entertainment — which has bestowed mobile applications with an increasingly important and intimate role in consumer lives. So much so that the current demand for the latest and greatest apps is already outstripping the available development capacity. But for both developers and advertisers to keep up with the growing demand in a strategic way, it’s crucial to understand consumer behavior when it comes down to app use.

Opera’s recent Intelligent Audience Creation report shed light on some of the differences in how mobile consumers use apps over the course of a week and also during a typical 24-hour time period. Now, we are revealing an even more in-depth look at how consumers use their mobile apps, by identifying the most common first “app of the day,” or the first app users access when they wake up in the morning, and the last app of the day, which would be the last app accessed.

Based on our analysis of our audience in the United States, the first app consumers are using when they wake up is in the social networking category. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest. And the most common last app of the day? Entertainment. Imagine falling asleep watching YouTube, streaming Hulu or HBO GO.

We also found that most users tend to have a variety of “first” and “last” apps over the course of a month, so decided to assign a “loyalty” score to each app based on how frequently a user returned to that application category for their first or last app choice. The results weeded out all but four application categories — News & Information, Entertainment, Games and Social Media — which vie against each other for the top spot as either first or last app. Each only slightly changed its position between the morning and evening periods.

Opera Mediaworks_State of Mobile Advertising_App UsageThe chart details the top apps for each time period, their relative size and their rank based on loyalty and popularity as a first or last app.

As for the app most likely to have users return on a regular basis? That was News & Information, the category with the most consistent first and last app of the day usage across the entire month. It also had the smallest relative change in its audience size between morning and evening.

And lastly, though it never topped the list as either a first or last app, the Sports category stood out as the only category where the morning audience was larger than the evening audience.

Of course, each of these applications use very different types of ad formats to generate revenue. Social media apps typically display simple banner ads, many of which come from a wide range of ad networks. Entertainment apps tend to focus on premium banner ads from top brand advertisers and rich media campaigns. And gaming apps, which generate the highest relative eCPM, have a strong tendency towards performance campaigns, most of which are video. In fact, nearly 50% of all ads shown through Gaming apps implement video capabilities. This provides a unique way of skirting issues like banner blindness and visibility, which are challenges standard digital advertising faces. And helps marketers find a scalable way to think out of the box, as they can deliver innovative digital ads that offer players rewards, value-exchange video advertising, rich media creative and branded content.

Mobile apps are custom-made to deliver rich advertising and media experiences. And as mobile internet continues to spread across the world and apps continue to be responsible for the majority share of traffic and revenue generation, developers and advertisers are going to continue to find some of their biggest and best opportunities yet.

In Q2, Android and apps prevailed

Mobile OS is a two-horse competition between Android and iOS — and in the second quarter of 2015, Android was still the winning horse.

Last quarter, for the first time, Android took the top spot for revenue generation across all platforms. This quarter, as seen in the findings of our Q2 State of Mobile Advertising report, the robot maintained its lead, accounting for nearly 3X the volume of impressions (63.7% vs. iOS’s 21.7%) and generating the most revenue of any OS (47.7%).

But when it comes to monetization potential, iOS still has the edge. Apple’s favorable market position in Western markets has helped the iPad, in particular, generate the highest revenue per impression of any device and platform combination.

Opera Mediaworks_State of Mobile Advertising_Traffic Revenue by mobile OS

Social networking has also held on to its leading status in terms of total traffic and revenue across the Opera Mediaworks platform, accounting for a solid 31.5% of all impressions and 17.7% of revenue.

As for the other players, Music, Video & Media retained its historically impressive share of revenue (14.7%), and Games and News & Information still rank high for revenue generation. But things weren’t as consistent in other categories. Sports jumped from its number eight position to the number two spot for impressions served, a change likely due to seasonality as the NHL and NBA championships coincided with the opening of the American baseball season. And on the flipside, Communications Services fell from third to ninth place for traffic volume and from fifth to tenth for revenue generation.

Opera Mediaworks_State of Mobile Advertising_Traffic Revenue PublisherThe mobile advertising report also provides unique insight into consumer behavior. Have you ever wondered how consumers are using mobile apps? As it turns out, the most common first “app of the day,” that is, the first app users access when they wake up in the morning, is in the Social Networking category. And the most common last app of the day, or the last app accessed, is for Entertainment.

We also took a look at a user’s “loyalty” to see how frequently he or she returned to that app category for their first or last app of the day. What we found is that there are only four application categories vying for the top spot as either first or last app — News & Information, Entertainment, Games and Social Media — and each only slightly changes its position between morning and evening periods. But if you’re going for consistency, News & Information had the most regular first and last app of the day usage, and the smallest relative change in its audience size between morning and evening.

Taking a closer look at these top apps to assess monetization trends, the report also found that Games leads in terms of eCPM. This isn’t necessarily that surprising given that there is a relatively high volume of performance (CPI) campaigns, most of which are video, being executed within gaming apps.

On a macro level, the mobile ad market is continuing to expand across the world. One of the most exciting revelations proved to be the enthusiastic adoption of video advertising, with Australia, Japan, Germany and Canada expressing a particularly high interest in mobile video ads. And when it comes to traffic and revenue, the United States remains the clear leader, but the report notes that Africa, and as of recently, the Middle East, are steadily growing their share of the market.

Inside the Opera House: challenges and opportunities in mobile creativity

Opera Mediaworks Opera House Creative Studio

It has been reported that mobile ad spend will top $100 billion worldwide by 2016. Additionally, mobile video is predicted to account for more than 50% of all online video views. As mobile ad spend has continued to grow, the mobile ad space has become more competitive. Because of the increased competition and the prevalence of mobile media, consumers may have a tendency to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of mobile ads. Consumers are seeing content in more places from more brands, leaving them with shorter attention spans and high expectations. Mobile creative can also be seen as a difficult canvas to work with; brands must manage smaller screen sizes and catch a user’s attention within seconds.

With a growing mobile ad landscape where there are many ways to falter, brands are challenged to take advantage of mobile’s unique opportunities. Mobile has many native features like front-facing cameras, built-in fitness trackers, GPS, microphone and vibrate features. With significant money being spent on mobile ads, it seems many brands have risen to the challenge. Therefore, it is only through creativity in mobile that it will be possible to stand out above competitors. This will require brands to continuously come up with new ways to utilize mobile’s native features and find new tactics to engage users in their campaigns.

Defining mobile creativity

What exactly does it mean to be creative in the mobile landscape? One of Opera House’s creative masterminds, Gonzalo Borras, believes it’s about “finding news ways to engage with the audience.” Other experts from Opera House are in agreement, adding that creativity in mobile should close the gap between users and the brand, while being able to build new brand experiences that are impossible to do any other way. Mobile creativity allows users to experience new, innovative concepts — all in the palm of their hand.

Balancing creativity with technical constraints

We caught up with our global creative studio, Opera House, and picked their brains on some challenges they’ve ran into when it comes to intersecting art and technology to create an amazing creative

According to our Sr. Creative Director, Doug Manson, a common hurdle Opera House has run into is having to wait for technology to catch up with their creative vision:

“Figuring out how to translate a highly engaging user experience into a mobile ad unit that looks visually stunning within the constraints of both Android and iOS devices can pose quite the challenge. Processing power, file weight and bandwidth are just a few examples of those challenges. We also ask, how can we repurpose video for mobile screens to create the most optimized user experience? What are the best ways to use data to iterate on creative and creative concepts around mobile?”

From there, our folks at Opera House then have to find the right balance — dimensions, calls to action (CTAs) — optimized for each  device and operating system (i.e., Apple and Android). “Often times, we provide creative solutions to bring our client’s vision to life and make an impact in the mobile landscape ,” says Jason Collar, Sr. Director of Creative Services. “That, and figuring out how to get all the cool, engaging stuff we create across all devices can definitely be a challenge, but it calls us to be creative in intersecting science and art — that’s where working among such creative minds is extremely beneficial,” adds Manson.

An opportunity to exercise true creativity with technology

How exactly does Opera House face challenges in producing creative ad units that not only keep brands on par with competitors, but also ahead of the game? Nowadays, creative minds need to think beyond creating an engaging creative, limited to a video or display ad. Mobile devices now have a lot of native features brands can utilize, such as the camera.

“Emerging technologies have vastly opened the door to better the overall experience on mobile. The use of the camera, such as in the Lufthansa campaign, allowed users to take a selfie. The Wheat Thins campaign allowed users to experience a new product by using the device’s gyroscope. And with new technology such as motion ads, facial recognition, beacons, and mCommerce slowly hitting the market, the storytelling will only get better,” says Collar.

“That selfie unit was really cool in that it interacted with the user to give a personal connection between the user and the brand,” adds Manson. “It’s something we definitely didn’t perfect over night — there was a lot of trial and error over the years, but we’ve figured out certain ways to get things that are compact for mobile and can load in a matter of seconds. It’s a continued learning process for all of us.”

Unique challenges, unique opportunities

Mobile is unique in that it presents brands with various constraints while simultaneously providing the tools to create more immersive brand experiences. True creativity requires finding inventive ways to use the tools of mobile to minimize the effects of these constraints. In fact, instead of seeing these constraints as limiting, they should be seen as opportunities to enable better storytelling.




As part of the launch of Opera House, Opera Mediaworks’s global creative studio, we are launching a blog series that will showcase some of our best creative work, creative best practices and our global creative talent that churns out award-winning mobile ad campaigns. This week, we caught up with Luke Harris, the creative lead for the Opera Mediaworks EMEA team to find out what he thinks are mobile creative’s most unique characteristics and its most potential, and how his team works through the medium’s existing (and rising!) challenges.

“Good things — no, great things — come in small packages”

And yes, your phone is small. That screen is so many times smaller than the very traditional media spaces the advertising industry was used to: billboards, cinema screens and large TVs. But it’s densely packed with pixels, and, more importantly, with features. It knows where you live, where you’re going, how to direct you there, and all of these other little details that open up a whole world of engagement possibilities.

Sure, the screen size is a limitation. But that’s the fun of it: figuring out how to work with that one obvious limitation, and replace the old styles, such as rich, detailed layouts with loads of copy, or 30-second video ads, with new formats that are specific to the mobile medium.

Mobile creative, to me, is about striking the right balance between the traditional creative style – high-energy, high-impact formats and messaging – and a style that takes advantage of the phone’s features, providing a more subtle interaction, or usefulness, that consumers appreciate.

“A great mobile ad has a lifespan beyond the ad itself.”

It used to be that an ad was just an ad — that you’d see it on your TV, computer or even mobile device, have that single impression, and then turn away or close it out. And when you did that, the ad experience ended. But what we’re finding now is that when you integrate the native features of the phone, you can extend the lifespan of your ad.

It’s one thing to say, for instance, that “Your nearest Starbucks is 3 blocks away.” It’s another thing entirely to literally point the user in the right direction and guide them with arrows all the way to the door of the shop, leveraging the gyroscope technology to make the phone into a compass and guide.

A prime example of this is a campaign we did for the London Eye, a key landmark that overlooks the Thames river. It’s right in the middle of everything, but it can still be hard to find if buildings are obscuring it. We did proximity targeting to serve the campaign to visitors that were within 1,000 meters of it, and the ad pointed them to the exact location.

The London Eye [source: Wikipedia ]

And there are so many other ways that you can extend an advertisement, even well beyond a few minutes of guidance.

Lufthansa’s selfie ad unit [source: Marketing Land]

The selfie ad unit, for example, has the user taking a picture of themselves and integrating it into a background photo that we create. That (branded) picture then lives in the user’s image gallery, and, if they post it on social media, on those public channels as well.

Or, say there is an event, like the season finale of Game of Thrones; you can have the user “Add to calendar” and set reminders for it, which means that event also now “lives” on the phone itself.

“A unique storytelling campaign? It all depends on how brave you are.”

One of the great benefits of what we can do now with mobile targeting and user data is not limit ourselves to the one-hit wonder kind of ads. It seems contrary, because everyone thinks mobile is all about the quick hit, the short-form, but you do have the possibility of creating a full narrative. You can phase them just like TV ads, a teaser campaign with three, four or even five different messages, because the ad serving data tells us how many they’ve seen, which ones, and when. You can take the user on a journey, really.

But, it all depends on how brave you are. It’s very easy to overcomplicate mobile ads. The data still tells us that people don’t really see everything. If you look at mobile eye-tracking studies from web usability experts like Jakob Nielsen, for instance, you soon realize that it’s best to stick to the basics. Keep it sharp, with a simple message, logo and call to action (CTA). You can create multiple versions, of course, and even have a thematic connection among them, but make it a range, and keep your colors and style consistent.

We also try to stay on top of new workarounds to battle indifference to mobile ads. For example, there’s something now called “beyond the banner.” It’s not an auto-expand, but rather a subtle and fleeting little extra breakout from the conventional 320×50 space that is designed to counteract mobile banner blindness and get the user to look at the ad, even just for an extra second.

“Let’s turn that one off.”

When you do have a bunch of creative executions that are very similar, and just slightly different, you can then start testing those parameters to hit on the combination that works best. In a campaign we ran for a line of boots from a popular shoe brand, we had one with a man, one with a woman. We also had two different CTAs: “Shop now” and “Learn more.” We thought in this case that “Shop now” would perform better, but as it turned out, consumers really wanted to explore more content around the product, and not just start immediately shopping. So we said, okay, let’s just turn that one off.

“The real challenge? Communicating the concept to the client.”

You know those amazing features I mentioned earlier? The ones that we love to use as a core function of a campaign, like the gyroscope and camera? It’s a double-edged sword because it’s extremely difficult to get the concept across on paper, so it requires much more work to communicate it accurately to the client.

We found that flat design simply doesn’t cut it, so instead we create videos or digital storyboards. The client receives a URL that they can view on desktop or mobile, as an interactive slideshow that they can click (or tap) through to understand how the navigation plays out and how the ad ultimately works on a mobile device.

They’re not finished ads, of course, but we do find that they enhance the client’s imagination and allow them to get excited about it enough to buy in — and that’s what we need to move forward with what we know are exceptional campaigns.

Luke Harris is the Head of Studio at Opera Mediaworks EMEA.


Audience management platform delivers expanded data segments and profiles for programmatic buying


Today, we are happy to roll out the latest iteration of the Opera Mediaworks Audience Management Platform (AMP). AMP 2.0 will enable AdMarvel platform customers to uniquely package their ad inventory leveraging their unique datasets, to expose specific audience segments across their properties. In addition, publishers can use these new capabilities to extend their audience reach across OMAX (Opera Mediaworks Ad Exchange)

Opera Mediaworks’ AMP is a product extension to the targeting capabilities of AdMarvel, the leading mobile ad serving and programmatic Supply Side Platform. AMP delivers granular audience segments by combining the publishers’ first-party data with third-party data available through the AdMarvel platform, enabling deep audience insights for ad targeting.

The key to AMP 2.0 is allowing a publisher to append its own valuable first-party data to third-party profiles delivered by Opera Mediaworks, to build profiles unique to their audience.  For example, a music application that today targets its users only with its own first-party data on music preferences, can use AMP 2.0 to add third-party demographic and behavioral data to that profile and serve even more highly targeted ads across its owned and operated mobile inventory. In addition, that audience can also be identified and served to in other apps, using OMAX, should additional reach be needed.

“This technology is being made available to publishers so they can strengthen their audience targeting capabilities and increase their reach. Publishers want to deliver meaningful ads to trusted, premium mobile audiences at scale in a brand-safe environment,” explains Mark Fruehan, President, Publisher Services Global Supply. “AMP 2.0 gives our publishers the tools to deliver ads to detailed and accurate audience segments within their own ecosystem and across more than 1 billion unique consumers we touch each month. The goal is to ultimately deliver the right ad, to the right user at the right time.”

Doing all that in a privacy-compliant manner is core to AMP. No PII (personally identifiable information) is exchanged, handled or stored. All data is securely managed in a private cloud-based platform, which augments publisher first-party data with data insights from Opera Mediaworks. Data is further protected via encrypted communication and is only accessible for ad targeting and decision-making at the time of the ad call.

To enable AMP 2.0 and more information how you can leverage this platform solution, contact opera-supply@opera.com.