I have been working on a theory about advertising spend and media buying over the past few days while thinking about my personal experiences running campaigns on digital ad networks. There is a pattern that is emerging when I think about the relationship between the size of the audience, the buying power of the members of the targeted group and the performance of the campaign.
It is impossible to increase one of the following without decreasing at least one of the remaining two:
Generality (of targeting)
I'd be interested to hear examples where this doesn't hold true, post them in the comments of you have any.
There’s been talk in the Valley over the past year about this new
thing called ‘responsive design’, which will supposedly – and magically –
dispense with all your mobile branding woes by ‘fixing’ the problem of
needing two websites (one optimised for desktop and the other for
mobile). It sounds amazing.
HTML5 and CSS Here’s how it works: you build one website using HTML5. Then
you use the new features of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to detect what
type of device is being used to view the site, and then render the pages
in the way that works best for that device – this is how the design
‘responds’ to the device. It still sounds amazing…but there’s a catch.
Responsive design only works properly if the mobile device supports
the kind of CSS and HTML that allows it to respond in the first place.
This means that more than half the mobile phones in Africa don’t even
understand what responsive design is.
Screen size matters
The problem goes deeper than just HTML5 and CSS support. The Nokia 3110
and the Samsung E250, both very popular devices in Africa, are small
devices with very little screen real estate. They both have 128 pixels
of screen width to play with. One of these screens could fit into the
width of an iPhone 4S five times, and this is the reality that the
proponents of responsive design are missing.
Deal-breaker The problem also comes into focus from a marketing and
advertising point of view when brands link to websites from their
Facebook pages. Based on data Motribe has collected from Campaign
Router, we think it’s safe to say that if a South African company links
to something on its Facebook page, only 20% of the users who click on
that link will be doing so from a desktop computer. The other 80% will
do so from their mobile phones.
There are many other small but deal-breaking reasons why responsive
design won’t work in any emerging market. And this includes those
emerging markets embedded – but mostly hidden – in North America and
The solution? Focused attention. Speaking from experience, the solution isn’t simple and
requires the brutally honest answer to this question: Do you care enough
about those mobile users who can’t afford the type of device that
supports responsive design? If you don’t, and you’re happy to focus on
10% of the mobile market, and you also understand what that really means
for your marketing and mobile traffic, then go ahead and make use of
But if you want your mobile site to work on the typical African
mobile phone, then you need to give it some focused attention by finding
a specialist company that knows how to make websites work on these
devices. A great way to start would be to buy a few of these phones –
starting with a Samsung E250 and a Nokia Express Music – and use them to
access your site. Become obsessed with making your site work well on
these phones, while at the same time accepting the fact that the user
experience will never be as good on them as it would be on a smartphone.
Motribe groups devices into three categories based on the width of
their screens: small (128px to 168px), medium (168px to 240px) and large
(320px or more). This allows us to focus on experience categories
rather than on specific, individual devices. Often, devices in the same
size group will need the same quirks and experience flows, so it makes
sense to do it this way. And finally, we use something like Campaign
Router, which makes the decision regarding which devices need to go to
which landing pages.