As Advertising Goes Mobile, Should Nonprofits Follow?
Reading about the need to implement mobile advertising can sometimes feel a bit like listening to Chicken Little yelling, “The sky is falling!” After all, we’ve heard for years now that as consumers shift their online habits to their smartphones, the advertising will follow and leave desktops behind.
So where do we stand now? Should nonprofit organizations adapt their digital marketing approach to focus more on mobile ads? Is it worth the effort and the spending?
Is It Time to Go Mobile?
The answer is yes, but don’t abandon your other efforts.
We’ve found the key to fundraising success is implementing a true multichannel approach that develops an overall strategy for your brand and adjusts the approach for the different outlets. If you haven’t done any mobile advertising, now is the time to start adding that into your efforts. You don’t want to get left behind with outdated marketing tactics as today’s technology is rapidly changing the world around us.
For those who have started mobile advertising, congratulations on having a leg up on the competition. Now you can really fine-tune your approach toward what’s working and what’s not.
First and foremost, you need to tell the right story to connect with your donor audience. That story should be consistent across all channels as you cultivate the relationship, whether that’s through direct mail, on your website or in a mobile video ad.
Speaking of mobile, make sure you are adapting your strategy to the mobile format — don’t simply resize your banner ads from desktop. Truly think about the mobile experience from the donor’s perspective.
Also, stop with the 30-second video ads. People simply don’t have the attention span or the patience to wait around that long. Short, compelling videos (less than 20 seconds) have the greatest impact, according to a recent AdWeek webinar. Even six-second ads are beginning to pick up momentum.
Let’s dig into the numbers and examine why nonprofits should add mobile ads to their marketing toolkit.
Mobile Usage Continues to Grow Steadily
While it hasn’t exactly been a tidal wave, mobile usage all around has continued to grow, showing the need for a digital commitment when it comes to marketing efforts. In the U.S., 81% of Americans own a smartphone — a dramatic increase in the last five years — compared to 74% who own desktop computers. Those numbers are also reflected in website usage where 58% of website visits in the U.S. came from mobile phones in 2018, compared to 42% from desktops.
Therefore, it’s clear that more people have smartphones and are using them more than desktop computers. Now let’s take a look at what that means for nonprofit groups.
We are beginning to see an increasing shift to mobile taking place throughout the nonprofit world. Blackbaud’s “2018 Charitable Giving Report” shows that online fundraising as a whole is up 17% since 2016 and 24% of those online fundraising transactions were made on a mobile device. That latter number has been steadily growing since 2014 when 9% of online transactions came on mobile.
Putting that into context a bit, only 8.5% of all nonprofit fundraising revenue came from online efforts. That means roughly 2% of fundraising revenue came directly from mobile devices. These numbers may seem small, but they continue to grow with every calendar year that passes.
All in all, more donors are using smartphones in their daily lives, and that includes charitable giving to nonprofit organizations.
Mobile Advertising Also Continues to Grow
It’s no secret that where the audience goes, the advertising will follow. The stats bear this out as well.
Digital ad spending in the U.S. passed $100 billion for the first time in 2018, growing by 21.8% over 2017. Mobile ads represented nearly two-thirds (65%) of that total spending in 2018, continuing a slow and steady growth over the last five years.
In 2012, mobile ads were just 9% of spending. By 2016, mobile ad spending surpassed desktop spending, 51% to 49%, respectively. When we look back at 2019, mobile ad spending may be up to three-quarters of all digital advertising.
As more people watch more video on their smartphones, the ads follow as well. Mobile video ad spending jumped from $6.2 billion to $10.2 billion from 2017 to 2018.
Don’t Get Left Behind
By this point, all these numbers may have your head spinning faster than ol’ Chicken Little’s after he got smacked with an acorn. But before you run off in a panic, here are the key takeaways for nonprofits.
It’s clear that the sky isn’t falling for those nonprofit organizations that have yet to dive into mobile advertising. There’s no need to sprint headfirst into the wolf’s den.
At the same time, don’t dismiss Chicken Little’s warning completely. The research and trends all point to a slow, steady shift toward mobile usage among donors and a growth in mobile advertising across the board, particularly when it comes to video. Now is the time to divert some of your resources toward mobile and reap the benefits of changing consumer behavior.
Don’t get left in the dust as you debate whether Chicken Little is right.
Shane Thornal is director, digital media, at RKD Group. He is a skilled expert with more than 12 years of experience in the digital landscape. Shane leads the digital media team and implements programmatic advertising strategies as part of a multichannel approach to nonprofit fundraising.