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Mobile Advertising: The What, How and Why of It

It’s an established fact that online advertising is the future of advertising. Traditional avenues of advertising are fast being overtaken by online advertising, and with advantages such as measurable ROI, easier targeting and segmentation etc., they are now an integral part of every campaign. This brings us to the study of another key trend – the advent of mobile advertising (not to be confused with mobile marketing).

Mobile advertising is exactly what it sounds like – advertising via mobile phones, mainly smart phones and mobiles devices like tablets. While mobile advertising has not taken off yet with the same kind growth that online advertising did, it stands to reason that by the very nature of its versatility, it is bound to happen soon. The USP of mobile advertising is its reach – according to Gartner, the proliferation of lower-priced tablets and their growing capability is accelerating the shift from PCs to tablets. “While there will be some individuals who retain both a personal PC and a tablet, especially those who use either or both for work and play, most will be satisfied with the experience they get from a tablet as their main computing device,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. This means that not only is mobile and tablet usage growing, but also that it is eating into the market share of PCs. This long term change in user behavior is going to accelerate growth in mobile advertising and make it an integral part of any firms marketing strategy.

Some major advantages of mobile advertising –

– Reach – We know that mobile web is going to get bigger, and fast. Getting on to the bandwagon now, will definitely give you an edge. Mobile internet use is predicted to grow at a rate of 66% according to Cisco. Facebook recently shared its usage data, revealing that a whopping 78% of its users are accessing via mobile. So if you haven’t already done so, think about getting these things done – Does your website have a mobile version? Is it optimized for the major Operating systems? (Major OS include Android, iOS, Symbian and Windows).
– Money, money, money – Weighing the cost factor is essential in any campaign. Mobile ads are cost effective, enabling you to cover a huge audience, with limited spending. Rates are a fraction of the cost of traditional avenues and they give you more value for money – reach more people, for less money.
– Target audience – Both mobile and online advertising make it possible to narrow your audience down to the exact demographic and geography you want to target. Not only this, technology helps you avoid repetitions. This means that you can make sure that your ads are not shown repeatedly to the same user, and thus get the most ROI.
– Measurable – Statistics are available for everything on the web. This is one of the most important benefits of mobile as well as online advertising. It is entirely possible to monitor the number of ad impressions, page views, unique impressions, unique page view, unique visitors, how many times the same ad was viewed by each visitor, and a lot more. This helps you ensure that you are getting the best ROI possible.

Disadvantages of mobile advertising –

– Complex mobile ad ecosystem – Computer (desktops and laptops) are simple compared to the mobile ecosystem. Understanding it and optimizing your ads for mobile is a whole different ballgame. There are different operating systems, device brands and wireless operators, and each combination needs to be understood when planning your campaign. They each work differently, display content differently, and in different combinations, making it not as straightforward as online advertising.
– Privacy – Users are almost always in possession of their mobile devices, using them extensively every day. They also use their phones for various purposes (we have apps for everything these days). Keep this in mind, and ensure that your target audience is not bombarded with advertising. This would have a detrimental effect on your campaign and your brand.
– Misconceptions – As an area of advertising that is relatively new, and is often taken to be similar to online advertising, the myths and misconceptions surrounding mobile advertising abound. It is a complex ecosystem, as we’ve already established, much more so than that of PCs. The PC internet ecosystem works almost as one unit, whereas the mobile world is fragmented, with various players. Add to this the fact that it is still evolving rapidly, and we can get an idea of why it is difficult to get rid of misconceptions about mobile advertising.

Mobile CPMs tend to be low, and mobile ads are more intrusive. This is another significant disadvantage of mobile advertising. Considering the ever evolving nature of mobile advertising at the moment, I’m confident that these issues will get sorted out. Keeping in mind all the pros and cons, I do feel that people who begin with mobile advertising today, will have an edge a year or two down the line. Do your research. Figure out the system and what kind of mobile advertising works for you. Make sure that you have a mobile version of your website, or at least that it is optimized for mobile. Remember that it is essential to have two distinct desktop and mobile strategies. As Karthee Madasamy of Qualcomm Ventures puts it, “Mobile is the biggest platform in the history of mankind”. It’s about time that you got involved.

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