If all the hullabaloo about iPads, iPhones, and iAd wasn't enough to get you (finally) interested in mobile advertising, how about these convincing recent stats? Pew Internet just released a report about U.S. mobile access, citing 40 percent of adults use mobile phones for accessing the Internet, e-mail, or instant messaging, a figure that jumped 32 percent over last year. With all of this growth, how can a media planner know where to begin?
Learn the lingo. Just like Internet advertising came with its own set of lingo to learn, so does mobile. Definitions to terminology like WAP, apps, MMS, and SMS can be found in a mobile-specific glossary.
Consider handsets. With more than 5,000 types of phones ("handsets") out there, each with possible different screen sizes, resolutions, speed, and/or operating systems, creating a campaign to conform to every type can be a bear. The most common phones used in the U.S. are iPhones and BlackBerrys (they presently represent about 50 percent of the market).
Mobile ad units. Though many of the ad units sound familiar by name (banners, text links, sponsored search, ad-supported content), their ad specs certainly differ from standard Web ones. Mobile also has unique ad units of its own like MMS couponing, in-game ads, mobile video, and "appvertising," any of which might be alternative considerations depending upon your strategy.
Website readiness. Does your campaign strategy involve a click-through to a website or landing page? If so, be sure that the destination page will be optimized for mobile. Will your visitors be viewing the page on a smartphone? Would it improve campaign performance to have a streamlined WAP-enabled page? Is the site set up to properly detect the various different types of handsets and deliver the right kind of page (e.g., Apple devices do not support Flash)? Mobile campaigns need to stay simple with a single-minded focus towards the particular desired action, so Web pages need to be created accordingly.
Targeting. Before we even start discussing targeting technologies, you might want to know who you can most likely reach through mobile. Pew found that "African-Americans and English-speaking Latinos continue to be among the most active [owners and] users of the mobile web" (87 percent vs. 80 percent for white users). Meantime, technology allows planners to target users by location, demographics, carriers, handset types, and more.
Where and how to buy. Just like online, the media planner needs to consider buying options between direct-to-publisher vs. ad network, and there are pros and cons to each. Going direct might be more time consuming, but it could also get your advertiser better advantages in pricing, placement, and distribution. Networks, on the other hand, can be easier - especially given this new technology - and get you far more reach. For a helpful list of mobile networks and portals, reference my Local Online Media Planning Options in Mobile column.
Budgeting. The cost of mobile advertising buy-ins has dropped dramatically in the past three years. It used to be that you couldn't even test a mobile ad campaign for less than $25,000, but these days you could do a DIY text ad campaign through solutions like AdLocal. Plan to do some homework to be able to allocate your budget to mobile appropriately.
Time and cost differentiators. Speaking of doing homework, clearly if the content in this column is all new to you, you'll need to factor in the time-cost value of mobile into your media plan. Opinions of mobile media planning range from, "It's very complex and difficult" to "Any experienced media planner can do it." My opinion falls somewhere in between. I don't think a good media planner, however, can overlook mobile advertising if it's well-suited for their client's objective. Just be aware of how its first-time complexities for you might impact your agency's project profitability.
Mobile's progressing at lightning speed, and advertising through mobile is following suit. Media planners can't ignore it anymore.
A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."