How advertisers are unlocking new marketing opportunities with locked screens

Experts say locked phone screens offer endless possibilities for brands, but caution that the space should be used mindfully to attract customers and ensure they are not annoyed or overwhelmed

e4m by Shantanu David
Published: Aug 2, 2022 8:30 AM  | 4 min read
locked screen

Marketers, over the past few years, are fast realising that the best advertising real estate is right there in the hands of the consumers, referring to smartphones and the online life users live on it- engaging in work, play, news, entertainment, and of course, retail therapy for indulgences as well as necessities. However, while all this engagement requires your active participation of the user, brands have latched on to the fact that even when not in use, the phone screen’s value as an advertising space remains undiminished. This is why several platforms are helping brands turn a locked screen into a stream of personalized content and tailored advertising, to grab customers’ eyeballs.


Sweet Spot

Aruni Panda, Vice President – Digital, Carat India, notes that an average smartphone user unlocks his phone 150 times a day. “I can’t think of any other medium that comes close to a daily OTS of 150. Moreover, it drives great engagement and is based on user interest,” he says, noting that brands and advertisers can use this across the users buying journeys – right from brand discovery to driving consideration depending on the product/service category.

Amitt Sharma, Founder and CEO of video advertising platform VDO.AI., agrees that lock screen ads have become a sweet spot for brands to achieve higher visibility. These are viewed no less than a hundred times a day and easily primed to be high-impact and high-engagement ad placements if done the right way.

“A glance can do a lot, especially in an advertising industry, so why not make it worth stopping for. Smartphone lockscreens serve several purposes: awareness; engagement; conversion,” notes Abdul Saud Siddiqui, Partnership & Alliance Manager, Optiminastic Media.


Many Purposes, One Screen

And much like time spent scrolling, the possibilities for brands are endless, though marketers note some products and services are bound to be more apposite for the medium.

“The smartphone screens get unlocked mostly when users are traveling, waiting, or just for entertainment; it is when the lock screen comes into play - personalized stories, content, and the latest information gets the users hooked. The content on the screen provokes them to view ads that are displayed along with the content,” says Panda.

“In my opinion, it is a great feature when it comes to the real estate sector, because just over a glance an audience gets optimum information about the property. If the ad generates interest, they click on the link to know more or otherwise they can ignore it. The purpose of any brand entering the market is to grab the eyeballs of the audience and stay in their mind for a longer span,” adds Siddiqui.


Watch Out

However, as with anything else, too much of something can be a bad thing, and the advertising space in particular must navigate this new path with a light hand.

Sharma says lock screens have always been a private space for users where they put their personal pictures or whatever they wish to, meaning over-targeting and ad saturation can lead to damaging people’s trust in brands. “This space should be used mindfully to attract customers and ensure they are not annoyed or overwhelmed. By balancing niche targeting capabilities with mass marketing tactics, brands can provide an integrated experience. Therefore, they must smartly incorporate ads in sync with what consumers actually expect or want to see instead of using forced ad promotions which may push the customers away,” he observes.

Panda quotes a 2019 Kantar research, which says there is a heightened risk that brands face because of over-targeting with negative feelings towards advertising; all stemming from precision marketing. “Having said that, lock screen advertising is predominantly based on a user’s interest. If brands can continue to personalize and remain meaningful based on deeper consumer understanding, the risk of saturation substantially decreases,” he adds.

Future Now

And Glance is certainly leading the way in this space. “Glance today is the largest lock screen advertising platform with 150mn MAUs and most new smartphones are Glance enabled,” says Panda, cautioning however that there is still a long way to go in terms of penetrating into premium phones, integrating lock screen advertising with in-app or browser-based advertising, and even AI-based targeting.

“Every day we see new phones being launched, with each being distinct from the other. There are approximately 50 smartphone brands out of which only a few have this feature on their hand held device which implies that the feature has not yet pervaded the smartphone market,” agrees Siddiqui.

All while it may have not become ubiquitous yet, we’re getting there. “Simply put, the personalized content on the lock screen entices users to quickly view ads, thus ensuring higher engagement and repeat visits. It is an exciting space, and brands must bank on it to garner more traction,” concludes Sharma.

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