Gaining STEAM: Why mobile needs science and art

This post was written by Mollie Spilman, EVP, Global Sales & Operations at Millennial Media

STEM – an acronym for the subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – has been a national focus since the early 1980s, when failing growth in these subjects prevented the United States from developing the innovative lead it enjoyed in the mid-20th century. Since then, great efforts and investments have been made to elevate STEM’s status, including the Federal Government’s $260 million “Educate to Innovate” program.

While interest and investment in STEM is to be commended, industries around the globe recognize that creativity too is at the heart of innovation: Science is  improved with art. In fact, a 2008 survey from the Conference Board and Americans for the Arts showed that more companies are looking for employees  with creative skill sets. Companies want “big picture” workers who can problem-solve, collaborate and communicate.

Enter STEAM, an initiative championed by the Rhode Island School of Design that adds a critical “A” to the STEM acronym and aims to integrate science with art. Here’s why this is important for mobile advertising.

Why Mobile Needs Science and Art

Mobile advertising is a perfect example of an industry that can benefit by gaining STEAM: marrying art with science, visuals with data, and creativity with innovation.

Mobile is one of the most unique and targetable advertising mediums. Location, behavioral, demographic, contextual and cross-screen insights enable mobile advertisers to connect messages with the right audiences at the right times. Through technological and engineering innovations, mobile advertising companies are crafting competitive algorithms that securely uncover advanced audience insights to better educate advertisers, inform campaigns and deliver the holy grail of relevant content sharing.

In conjunction with targeting, mobile ads have the ability to use interactive, animated and native-function features to create engaging user experiences. These rich-media features can include video, gamification, swipe galleries, voice recognition and more. While not all mobile campaigns include these functions, those that do tend to enjoy higher metrics of effectiveness.

For example, we found that click-through rates for automotive mobile ads increase upwards of 350 percent when video and rich media are used over standard banners. Similarly, CTRs for Consumer Product Goods mobile ads increase 260 percent when video and rich media are used over standard banners. Both automotive and CPG advertisers are able to better showcase product features, drive brand awareness and promote foot traffic through the use of rich-media creative and video.

Too often, there is an imbalance around what vendors tout – whether it’s all about technology and data over creative or visa versa. Yes, the ability to gather hoards of data and automate technology is incredibly important, but without art, we can’t truly utilize, visualize and be successful. Similarly, art and creative are wasted when audience insights and pinpointed targeting are left by the wayside. It truly is the combination of the two that produces successful mobile ads and a more competitive marketplace.

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