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What Is Mobile Advertising?

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Mobile advertising is huge. As of 2019, it even beats television advertising: US consumers will spend more time on their smartphones this year than they will spend watching TV.

And yet… how much of your advertising is focused on mobile users and devices? What proportion of your advertising is mobile? Are you investing in mobile-first creative at the same level you’re investing in television ads?

At least some of your competitors are. Research from eMarketer shows that mobile ad spending exceeded TV ad spend last year.

mobile advertising


What is Mobile Advertising?

Mobile advertising refers to ads and ad campaigns expressly designed for mobile devices. In this context, “Mobile devices” include smartphones, tablets, or wearable devices. Mobile ads can appear within apps, on websites viewed from mobile devices, or on social media platforms viewed through mobile devices.



There are several advantages to mobile advertising, including:


Increased Time Spent On Mobile Devices by Consumers

According to the World Advertising Research Center, two billion people already access the internet via only their smartphone. That’s the equivalent of 51 percent of all mobile users worldwide. In just six short years, 72% of all internet users will access the internet exclusively via mobile devices.

Mobile Advertising Reach a Broader Market

Internet traffic via mobile devices exceeds traffic via desktop devices, and that’s been true for several years.

mobile advertising

Mobile Advertising is a Better Buy

Phone-based CPCs cost 24% less than desktop clicks. Phone-based ads have a 40% higher CTR. And don’t say mobile users don’t make purchases: 35% of mobile and tablet shoppers buy products at least once a week, compared to only 15% of desktop users.


Geotargeting Capabilities

Mobile also enables location marketing in a way that desktops can’t match. And, because consumers have their mobile devices with them more often than they are with their desktops, advertisers have more opportunities to reach them.



Mobile ads come in many flavors, including:


In-app advertising

It’s impossible to talk about mobile use without talking about apps. And so, if you’re going to test mobile advertising, you owe it to yourself to test app advertising. After all, it’s not like there’s a shortage of apps. If you can pick the right apps and show the right creative, in-app advertising can work really, really well.

Mobile video advertising

Mobile videos work– if you can develop enough creative and test it fast enough before ad creative starts to fatigue.

Location-based advertising

Mobile users have their devices with them almost all the time. That opens up a world of opportunities if you’ve got a local business or a business with brick and mortar locations.

Banner advertising

Yes, even the much-maligned banner ad has a place in mobile advertising. There’s plenty of inventory for mobile banner ads, and so if you can cherry-pick where these ads appear and pair that with great creative, mobile banner ads can work.


These are just like the pop-ups (aka “overlays”) you’ve been seeing on web pages for years. They’re just smaller and designed for mobile screens.

Native ads

Native ads are published either in social media feeds or on websites. They’re called “native” because they look like the content surrounding them. Native ads must use high-quality content. They also tend to “soft sell” advertisers’ products, if they overtly mention them at all.

Voice ads

Voice search is not just coming – it’s here. And while paid voice search hasn’t really taken hold yet, it won’t take long.

Don’t overlook mobile advertising channels, either. Almost all of the types of mobile advertising mentioned above can run on social media, display ad networks, search ads, and even Amazon ads.

So if you’ve tried just one channel or mobile ad format and it didn’t work, keep testing.

Planning a Mobile Advertising Campaign

Mobile advertising campaigns work much like any other advertising campaign, with a few key differences.


Know your audience.

Mobile interfaces may be simplified compared to desktops, but they’ve got just as many (if not more) distractions. If you want your message to get through all the noise, you’ll need to know what type of messaging will appeal to your ideal users. You’ll also need to know which channels and publishers your ideal users flock to.

Find out which channels and ad formats fit your budget.

Don’t blow your budget on a display ad on The New York Times if a few in-app ads will work.

Develop great creative. A lot of it.

You’re going to need to test creative, and the offers the creative describe. And get ready to test a lot of it. We’ve found that only about one in twenty ads really takes off. That means you’ll need 20 pieces of creative to find a real winner.

Get your tracking and reporting dialed in.

Data-driven marketers love mobile advertising. It’s a blend of art and science, with the art driving the creative development and the science requiring a lot of number crunching. While it’s rare to find someone who can manage both aspects, we have tools that can make up for any shortcomings in your teams’ skillset.

Examples of Mobile Advertising

It’s not hard to find examples of mobile advertising. Just pick up your phone and start clicking around. You’ll see mobile ads pretty much everywhere you go – whether that’s on your favorite websites, in your favorite apps, on social media, or in the search results. Mobile ads are almost infinitely flexible, which is part of why they work so well.

But just to illustrate their flexibility, here are examples of four different types of mobile advertisements:

mobile advertising


Mobile Advertising Conclusion

If you haven’t allocated a significant slice of your digital advertising budget to mobile ads, you’re missing out on a lucrative traffic stream. That’s true whether your audience is Baby Boomers or tweens, CEOs, or Yuccies (Young Urban Creatives). Everybody’s on their phones these days. Your ads should be there, too.

Read our blog post, UA Media Buying Model, and see how it works in tandem with our Ad Concept Model. Learn the media buying best practice strategies for Facebook Android, Facebook iOS SKAN, Google, and TikTok.

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