Mobile Creative Rising

| Creative

We’re excited to announce that Undertone now offers all five of the IAB’s Mobile Rising Stars—impactful, engaging ad formats designed specifically for smartphones and tablets. To understand the significance of this launch, let’s take a quick look at what options are available for mobile advertisers and what type of value they provide:


Mobile Banners: Not great

Many people are critical of smartphone banners, and it’s not hard to understand why. A great mobile banner ad might be possible, but we just aren’t seeing many of them. It’s not so much the small size of the banners, but the banner creative (often poor) and the lack of engaging experience offered post-click. Often, desktop assets are simply resized for mobile, resulting in halfhearted creative efforts that diminish the smartphone and tablet experience. Our industry is at risk of training consumers to ignore mobile ads—just as we did with in-page banners. We need to work harder to earn engagement on smartphones and tablets.


Rich Media on Smartphone and Tablet: Getting better

Mobile rich media is a start. Animated rich media banners typically perform better than static banners, and full-screen user-initiated and interstitial ads drive more engagement, better brand recall, and higher purchase intent and click through metrics. Mobile rich media capabilities are now essentially on par with desktop rich media—but mobile rich media has an opportunity to go further. It can leverage a greater understanding of context via first and third party data, location and location history, and more. It can also take advantage of native touch device capabilities that can be inherently more fun and engaging for consumers. The very act of touching, tapping, and swiping content on screen can be more compelling than clicking with a mouse. But that said, many mobile creative executions have still been fairly underwhelming due to lack of core creative assets, lack of interest or ownership among creative agencies, or simply lack of production time when the need for mobile is addressed too close to flight date.


The IAB Mobile Rising Stars: Raising the bar

Here at Undertone, we’ve seen significant demand from brands for the Desktop Rising Stars units—but they don’t scale across screens. That’s where the Mobile Rising Stars come in. These units, designed specifically for smartphones and tablets, have the potential to truly raise the bar for mobile creative executions: they leverage device functionality to create something uniquely compelling. Creative is at its best when it uses the best attributes of the mobile UI, and the Mobile Rising Stars do this effectively. For more about how each unit works, please visit


Cross-screen solutions need to do more than look good on each device. They need to earn the right to engage audiences in a variety of new contexts. Creative executions—and often, the campaign goals—need to morph across screens with an understanding of the environment beyond screen size. The creative must make a compelling proposition to the consumer to earn the initial interaction and then deliver on that promise with a valuable, engaging and (ideally) entertaining experience post click.


It’s critical that we all work to lift the quality of mobile and tablet executions to earn our place on mobile devices.  Mobile Rising Stars are a great step forward, and Undertone is busy in our Digital Innovation Studio™ developing what’s next. Stay tuned.

Michael Nevins is a pioneering veteran of mobile content and advertising. A confirmed gadget addict, "Mobile Mike" has focused his career on helping brands, agencies, content creators and publishers engage audiences through creative application of emerging media platforms. He's also a noisy drummer and professional kite flyer.


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