In a past life, covering media companies and ad-tech startups at Ad Age, I was amazed by how many big brands are still having a really hard time getting the basics of mobile advertising right — poorly optimized landing pages, broken links and more.
As a result, I often click on mobile ads, regardless of whether I’m interested in what’s being pitched, just to see what awaits on the other end of the finger-tap.
So, a few days ago, I did just that, after seeing a link in a Promoted Tweet from Best Buy on my Twitter iPhone app advertising a two-day Father’s Day sale. There I was greeted by the image to the right.
And while I could make out prices and images of computers and TVs without zooming in or squinting, that was about it. And once you ask me to zoom in — tap — I’ve clicked on the “X” and I’m gone.
And then, yesterday morning, another Best Buy Promoted Tweet arrived in my stream on my Twitter iPhone app, advertising the Nintendo DSi. Of course, I clicked.
This time the result was much worse: A broken page, telling me “there was an error when processing your request.”
I closed out and clicked again. Same result.
I’m not just picking on Best Buy — these types of experiences are par for the course in mobile advertising that could lead to buying online. And, as we all know by now, mobile phones are still challenging devices to advertise on, especially with all the different devices and screen sizes.
Despite the challenges, advertising on mobile devices is expected to rise 76 percent from $4.36 billion in 2012 to $7.65 billion this year, according to research firm eMarketer.
But if you are going to spend the money to advertise in mobile — especially on a popular platform such as Twitter — it’s probably a good idea to make sure the experience for the consumer will be a decent one.
It’s also not a good look for Twitter, which is effectively sending its users off to unreadable pages. Once that happens a few times to the same Twitter user perhaps they think twice before clicking on a Promoted Tweet again.
Still, Twitter doesn’t seem to feel this is its responsibility. “Brands control the content that they put into a Tweet, regardless of its promoted or organic,” a spokesman wrote in an email. “We don’t screen what the final experience looks like on specific landing page[s], etc.”
A Best Buy spokeswoman acknowledged that the company has work to do in digital.
“As we have shared previously — most recently during our Q1 earnings, we are focused on accelerating our online growth and are taking a number of steps including consistent browsing across devices to improve the online experience for our customers,” she wrote to me in an email.
“We’ve talked publicly about our dot.com platform being woefully underfunded,” she added. “The new Executive Team has recognized this and is making the additional investments to get the site improved for our customers across all platforms.”
As for the broken link, “a brief outage this morning on our Web site” was the cause, she explained.
It’s no secret that more and more people are making purchases from their mobile phones. EMarketer estimates that mobile commerce sales will increase 56.5 percent this year to $38.84 billion, from $24.81 billion in 2012. But those mobile shoppers choose the brands that make it easy.
In the end, I did indeed end up buying my dad a Father’s Day gift from my iPhone — a label maker, just like he asked. But it happened on Amazon.com’s mobile website — and while I was standing in a Staples analog store.