A6 Mobile Advertising


Part of a series of Top 10 Branding/Pre-Sales Mobile Marketing Strategies

Many companies are under currently underspending on mobile advertising. Even though adults are spending ten percent of their daily media time on mobile devices, mobile ad spend only makes up one percent of total spend. This is likely to change, however, as both mobile search ad impressions and mobile ad spend have surged over 300 percent.[i]

In creating your Mobile Advertising Strategy, consider placing ads on search engines, mobile websites and in applications (in‑app) – both yours and/or other companies’ apps. A logical starting point for your mobile ad strategy would be to consider placing mobile search banner ads.

Mobile search volume is likely to surpass desktop search volume by 2016. Many companies are also generating returns on their in‑app ad spend which is poised to triple to $7B by 2015.[ii] The key to in‑app ad spending is ensuring that you are selecting apps that clearly reach your target audience.

Mobile Ad Objectives

A mobile ad strategy can potentially achieve a number of different objectives. Southwest Airlines launched a mobile ad campaign with the specific objective of building its opt‑in e‑mail list,[iii] whereas Dole’s objective was to build an online community.[iv] Fast food chain Subway ran a mobile ad campaign to “promote its Fiery FOOTLONG™ subs and to build up its consumer database.”[v]

Lipton decided to place audio ads on the musical app called Spotify to drive YouTube video views featuring musical group Lady Antebellum.[vi] Taco Bell focuses its banner ad strategy on driving in‑store traffic to its restaurants for new product launches. Taco Bell’s banner ads raise awareness of the new product and the store locator feature helps customers find their nearest restaurant.[vii]

Energy drink maker Red Bull focused its mobile ad objectives on driving attendance to its real‑world extreme sporting events. For one event, it successfully reached its target market of young males in Quebec, generating four million ad impressions and ten percent of event registrations via a mobile ad campaign. More than a quarter of the attendees also engaged with the app during the live event and over ten percent agreed to continue communications with Red Bull after the event, providing further branding opportunities.[viii]

A mobile banner ad can even be created to add an event to a customer’s calendar, and alerts can then be used to remind the customer of the event. These examples demonstrate that there is a wide range of potential objectives that could be achieved with a mobile banner ad strategy. Selecting the most effective strategy will be determined by your business objectives and the nature of your offerings, industry and target market.

Mobile Ad Target Market Reach

When Clinique wanted to promote its line of lip balms, they ran mobile ads on Glamour magazine’s mobile site to reach its target market of young, trendy women. The ads pointed people directly to a landing page for that product where an order could be placed. To encourage shoppers to click on the ads and place an order, they offered free shipping on orders over $50.[ix]

Targeted banner ads can also be placed on social media sites. CM Photographics generated nearly $40,000 in revenue directly from a mere $600 advertising investment on Facebook. Facebook ads allowed CM Photographic to target their exact demographic, 24 to 30-year-old women about to get married.

They identified prospects by targeting Facebook users with their relationship status set to engaged. Almost 60 percent of the users directed to CM Photographics’ website from the Facebook ads became qualified leads and expressed interest in more information.

Mobile Ad Smartphone Sensor Integration

Banner ads are even more powerful when they exploit the instrumentation and sensor input capabilities built into most smartphones. For example, location-aware ads (e.g., using GPS, Wi‑Fi, etc.) can present local information that is immediately relevant.

Beer maker Blue Moon created a location-based mobile ad campaign to encourage purchasers of movie tickets to consider going to a nearby bar or restaurant before or after the movie. Since Blue Moon does not sell beer online, it makes sense for them to drive traffic to locations that sell Blue Moon beer.[x] The ads became more effective because they were location-aware.

You can actually target your banner ads to people at the exact latitude and longitude that you are trying to reach. You can target ads to specific people that only use a certain type of smartphone. You can target surfers in one country that are specifically searching for content in another country. For example, a large Canadian bank is targeting consumers located in the U.S. that are searching for Canadian content. They are doing this to reach Canadian snowbirds (i.e., Canadians that spend a good portion of their time visiting the U.S.)

Click-to-Call Ads

Fifty-seven percent of mobile searches generate a phone call compared to only seven percent for desktop searches. Therefore an interesting strategy to consider for mobile ads is creating click-to-call ads. This can be a powerful approach for generating results from your mobile ad strategy.[xi] Consumers are surprisingly old-fashioned when it comes to products that interest them; they are happy to simply place a call to talk to someone.

Furthermore, with the phone number imbedded in the ad, customers can simply tap to call. This is especially valuable for products and services that are more likely to sell if there is someone available to answer the customer’s questions. This could include simple questions such as “Are you open?” “Is the product in stock?” “Does the product do this?” and “What are the dimensions of the product?”

HSBC created videos of its emerging market economists and then used click-to-call to enable customers to immediately connect with these experts. Analytics were then used to track the demographics of users that were most responsive to these ads.[xii]

Google now has a Pay-per-Call mobile advertising option where you only pay for ads that generate a phone call to your company.[xiii] Since users of this option are often in transit and about to make a purchase decision, it can potentially result in a higher close rate and therefore a higher campaign ROI.

QR GOOGLE ADSWatch the Video: Click-to-Call Ads – Google: Google contends that mobile click-to-call ads with phone numbers can result in a six to eight percent increase in mobile click-through rates.[xiv] <goo.gl/xgRw8> (Duration: one minute)

Call‑Me Ads

To eliminate the frustration of being put on hold or the need to go through multiple phone menus, another practical option is the call‑me ad. In this instance the customer simply submits their phone number and a company representative will then call them back in a few seconds or few minutes. Small businesses identify phone calls as the most valuable type of lead. Companies are currently averaging 35 calls per month from mobile devices, but this is poised to jump to 80 by next year.[xv]

Pick‑up‑to‑Call Ads

The built‑in sensor capabilities of a handful of new smartphones may open up even more interesting advertising options in the future. The latest Samsung phone has an interesting feature; if someone gets a text message from a friend, all they have to do is lift the phone to their ear and it’s smart enough to automatically look up the phone number and dial it. Now imagine a pick-up-to-call ad in the future – a prospect sees your mobile ad or text message and simply lifts the phone to their ear to automatically call you.

Mobile Ad Timing

Also consider the timing of your ads for maximum impact. Your ads may achieve better success if they target certain hours, days or months of the year. For example, Disney tends to run a high proportion of cruise ads in the middle of winter to try to achieve the best response rate and branding impact.[xvi]

Mobile Ad Step-by-Step Guidance

  1. Identify your target market.
  2. Determine the best channel for reaching your target market.
  3. Set your campaign objectives.
  4. Determine the type of ad to use (e.g., click-to-call ad).
  5. Determine if you can exploit built‑in smartphone features to enhance the effectiveness of your ad.
  6. Determine the best timing for your ads.
  7. Create your ads.
  8. Launch your ads using A‑B testing to determine which ads are most effective.[xvii]
  9. Track the results.
  10. Adjust your strategy based on what is working and not working.

Mobile Ad Best Practices[xviii]

  •       Be entertaining.
  •       Create a clear call to action.
  •       Turn your ad into a live response platform.[xix]
  •       Place mobile ads where your target market is likely to see it.
  •       Integrate social media in your ads (e.g., Twitter, Facebook).[xx]
  •       Get permission from people to use their location information.
  •       Use location-based ads to drive foot traffic to your nearest location.
  •       Don’t overstep the privacy bounds with your customers and prospects.
  •       Offer incentives to encourage action (e.g., discount coupon, contest with prizes, etc.).
  •       Consider your mobile ad campaigns as part of a complete 360‑degree marketing strategy using multiple marketing channels.
  •       Decide on clear objectives for your mobile ad campaign: drive in‑store traffic, build an opt‑in database, generate app downloads, drive event registrations, build a community, drive brand awareness, drive sales, etc.
  •       Target niche or micro-niche segments with customized content for specific target groups by age, gender, demographics, psychographics, etc.
  •       Create video ads – a recent survey of a social entertainment site found that videos were most likely to spur engagement.[xxi] (See Section A10 in this chapter for more detailed mobile video ad strategies.)
  •       Create ads that incorporate games.[xxii] (Gamification marketing is covered in detail in section B8 of Chapter Ten.)
  •       Use mobile ad networks[xxiii] to effectively target specific demographic segments (e.g., AdMob Network from Google,[xxiv] Spotify, Pandora, social entertainment site airG).[xxv]
  •       Consider advertising directly on commerce sites such as Amazon.com where consumers are ready to buy.[xxvi]
  •       Before placing intrusive ads in places not requested by users, place them where users are requesting information complementary to your offering (e.g., mobile search ads).
  •       Be careful not to cause too much of an annoyance or distraction for consumers (e.g., from people playing games or repeating the same ad in succession).
  •       Link to a mobile-optimized site.
  •       Link directly to the product or service that users are expecting, not just a general page with all your offerings.
  •       Consider the timing of your ads to achieve maximum impact: time of day, week, month and year (e.g., season, graduation season, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc.).
  •       Engage consumers by enabling them to share content with others (e.g., photos, videos, comments, etc.).
  •       Use Google’s AdWord Keyword Tool to determine what phrases people are actually searching on related to your offering.[xxvii]
  •       Build an analytics infrastructure that can track the clicks, calls, leads and sales generated from each ad or channel.[xxviii]

AD OVERVIEWWatch the Video: Mobile Banner Ad Overview: General overview of the pros and cons of mobile banner ads.[xxix] <goo.gl/pOB2A> (Duration: two minutes)

AD BEST PRATICESWatch the Video: Mobile Banner Ad Best Practices: Brief highlights of mobile banner ad best practices.[xxx] <goo.gl/y0wzG> (Duration: one minute)

Challenge Questions

Mobile Ad Strategies: Can you apply a banner ad strategy to meet your business objectives? For your product category, is it important to generate phone calls? What are your priority objectives? How can you reach your target market? Can you exploit built‑in smartphone sensors to make your ads even more compelling?


[i] “Mobile search spend continues to accelerate, jumps 333pc in Q2.” Mobile Marketer. June 29, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/research/13208.html

[ii] Charlotte Miller. “Press Release: In-App Mobile Advertising Spend to Top $7bn in Three Years.” Juniper Research. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://juniperresearch.com/viewpressrelease.php?pr=323.

[iii] Lauren Johnson. “Southwest Airlines builds email database via mobile initiative.” Mobile Marketer. June 26, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/email/13177.html.

[iv] Lauren Johnson. “Dole bolsters email database via mobile ads.” Mobile Marketer. February 11, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/advertising/12162.html.

[v] Rimma Kats. “Subway franchisees ramp up mobile presence via geo-targeted SMS campaign.” Mobile Marketer. July 22, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/messaging/10515.html.

[vi] Lauren Johnson. “PepsiCo’s Lipton bolsters YouTube views via mobile ads.” Mobile Marketer. July 5, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/advertising/13217.html.

[vii] Lauren Johnson. “Taco Bell beefs up mobile advertising play to drive in-store foot traffic.” Mobile Marketer. July 3, 2012. Accessed November 4. 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/advertising/13229.html.

[viii] Chantal Tode. “Red Bull energizes event registrations with mobile, social campaign.” Mobile Marketer. June 1, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/database-crm/12968.html.

[ix] Lauren Johnson. “Clinique boosts mcommerce sales via mobile ads.” Mobile Commerce Daily. June 15, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/2012/06/15/clinique-boosts-mcommerce-sales-via-mobile-ads.

[x] Lauren Johnson. “Blue Moon spearheads location, context via mobile ads.” Mobile Marketer. June 28, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/advertising/13202.html.

[xi] Chantal Tode. “Brands investing more in call-based ads on mobile: report.” Mobile Marketer. June 20, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/research/13140.html.

[xii] Lauren Johnson. “Heineken exec: Mobile is powerful lever for brand building.” Mobile Marketer. June 15, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/strategy/13092.html.

[xiii] “Pay per call search to go mainstream with mobile.” Mobile Marketer. January 11, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/search/11868.html.

[xiv] “Mobilize with Click-to-call.” YouTube. Uploaded by GoogleMobileAds on March 30, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://goo.gl/xgRw8 or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lG3ARa6iwNQ&playnext=1&list=PL5EDA764CB5382AE9&feature=results_video.

[xv] Kathy Crosett. “Huge Growth in Call-Based Ads Predicted.” Marketing Forecast. June 26, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.marketingforecast.com/archives/19391/.

[xvi] Lauren Johnson. “Disney bolsters winter cruise sales via mobile ad sweepstakes.” Mobile Commerce Daily. January 11, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/2012/01/11/disney-bolsters-winter-cruise-sales-via-mobile-ad-sweepstakes.

[xvii] Paras Chopra. “The Ultimate Guide To A/B Testing.” Smashing Magazine. June 24, 2010. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/06/24/the-ultimate-guide-to-a-b-testing/.

[xviii] Lauren Johnson. “In-app ad spend to reach $7B by 2015: study.” Mobile Marketer. July 5, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/research/13239.html.

[xix] Lauren Johnson. “Red Bull leans on mobile advertising to drive summer sweepstakes entries.” Mobile Marketer. July 5, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/advertising/13242.html.

[xx] Rimma Kats. “Top 10 mobile advertising campaigns of Q2.” Mobile Marketer. July 5, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/advertising/13241.html.

[xxi] Chantal Tode. “Red Bull energizes event registrations with mobile, social campaign.” Mobile Marketer. June 1, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/database-crm/12968.html.

[xxii] Shira Ovide, Greg Bensinger. “Mobile Ads: Here’s What Works and What Doesn’t.” The Wall Street Journal. September 27, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444083304578016373342878556.html.

[xxiii] Chantal Tode. “Hearst ramps up mobile strategy with HTML5 sites, private ad exchange.” Mobile Marketer. June 28, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/media/13200.html.

[xxiv] “Build a great app business with AdMob.” AdMob by Google. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.google.com/ads/admob/.

[xxv] “airG, share your world.” airG. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.airg.com/.

[xxvi] Carol Kopp. “Amazon Is Hitting Google Where It Hurts.” Minyanville. September 12, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.minyanville.com/business-news/editors-pick/articles/google-goog-amazon-amzn-google-shopping/9/12/2012/id/43925.

[xxviii] Kathy Crosett. “Huge Growth in Call-Based Ads Predicted.” Marketing Forecast. June 26, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.marketingforecast.com/archives/19391/.

[xxix] “What Are Mobile Banner Ads?” YouTube. Uploaded by Mobileinternetshow00 on September 5, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://goo.gl/pOB2A or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4N92MbguMY.

[xxx] “Banner Ad Best Practices.” YouTube. Uploaded by 60secondmarketer on April 19, 2008. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://goo.gl/y0wzG or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIHHt6OzxNs.

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