How Being Innovative Really Pays Off in Mobile Advertising

Are you interested in promoting mobile content, such as mobile branded apps? Or maybe, you’re a performance marketer who is tired of the high price points and low return of search engine marketing. Mobile advertising, with its low entry prices and unique capabilities, can be a great alternative.

A shift in mobile advertising is beginning to take place and it’s happening quickly. According to Gartner’s PC-installed base forecast, the total number of PCs in use will reach 1.78 billion units in 2013. By 2013, the combined installed base of smartphones and browser-equipped enhanced phones will exceed 1.82 billion units and will be greater than the installed base for PCs thereafter. Mobile marketing is also moving quickly from SMS on feature phones to display and search ads on smartphones. You can get in on the ground floor with this new media; and here are some tips on how to make your campaigns more effective. Yes, it may be messy and take additional planning; however, the shift has begun and the brands that learn early will have an advantage.

Effective Creative Must Be Device-Specific

Mobile phones are not the stepchildren of the Internet. To be effective, your creative and calls to action must take advantage of the features of the device. In other words, you must leverage the creative “limitations” of the device. For example, creatives on tablets can be a much richer and engaging experience. In my previous column, “To App or Not to App? Branded Apps Drive User Relationships,” I discussed some of the nuances and how branded marketers are developing more sophisticated apps to take advantage of the features of various devices. This also applies to ads and promotions on mobile devices.

Mobile advertising is very effective in cross-media advertising. For example, “calls to action” of traditional media campaigns – like TV, print, and even event marketing. The winner of the 2010 Global Mobile Awards was Turkey’s Cornetto Ice Cream, which used a multi-player, interactive game projected on a building in Taksim Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul, Turkey, activated by mobile phones to promote its ice cream. Run for two weeks for two hours daily, Cornetto had more than 3 million unique views, 3,500 players, and instant word of mouth, creating major brand awareness and trial for its ice cream. The mayor even stopped in for a viewing.


Take Advantage of Device Targeting

In mobile, a host of new options are available, including the ability to target a specific device. You can target an entire OS, such as iOS, Android, or BlackBerry. You can also get very granular and target an individual device or feature like video support. Campaigns that target the iPod touch are effective if you want to reach young people, whereas targeting the iPad is a great way to reach high-net-worth individuals. For example, according to Jumptap, smartphone owners skew older and wealthier than feature phone users, and are typically heavier mobile data users. This may explain why older, more affluent users had higher ad interaction rates on Jumptap’s network. Jumptap shows that older, more affluent consumers are more apt to interact with ads than younger mobile users who are less well-off. Those 40 and over were almost five times more likely to engage with an ad than people below that age, and those making more than $50,000 were twice as likely to do so than people making less.

Most mobile ad networks will optimize your campaign on the fly. Because the number of parameters that are being tracked is so large, most networks have developed auto-optimization for campaigns.

Volume in Creative and Messaging Helps

In mobile, the amount of advertising real estate is even more limited than on the PC. For advertisers, this means that breadth-over-depth has a noticeable impact. Creative burnout seems to happen faster than burnout on the PC. Updating and changing your creative frequently as well as constantly testing new ideas is recommended.

Experiment With Mobile-Specific Calls to Action

In mobile, advertisers have a number of unique calls to action that they can take advantage of. For example, it’s possible to run click-to-call campaigns that initiate the mobile phone’s call function after the user clicks on the banner ad. This works great for many performance verticals. There is also a click-to-SMS functionality that can be combined with a number of techniques, including the ability to SMS back to the user a mobile web link. Click-to-download is another mobile-specific choice that is popular for app download campaigns. This call to action takes the user directly to the app store where they can download the advertised app onto their mobile device. Another example of a mobile call to action would be the use of QR codes.

Quaker Oats used mobile advertising to promote Chewy Dipps with a sweepstakes and a simple call to action appropriate for mobile phones.


AppAllStar, one of the properties I am affiliated with, delivers users directly to the App Store page for installation of a “free game of the day.” AppAllStar uses a push notification on each user’s iOS device to drive them back to the daily featured promotion.


Minneapolis-based Parasole Restaurant Holdings used QR code technology in its billboard to transmit deals, ads, and a video for its trendy Chino Latino restaurant.


The QR code for Chino Latino contributed to 7,581 website visits over the past 90 days. Based on this ad’s success, Parasole used a QR code as part of its Burger Jones grand opening contest, which also performed well, with as many as 349 scans in one day. Here is a link to the company’s current Burger Jones contest.

This was the first use of QR code technology in a billboard in the U.S. outside of New York or LA. “Our clients are achieving the best QR code results when they integrate embedded video, contests, coupon for free item in-store, and e-newsletter opt-ins. Marketers are further boosting results by using the same mobile-friendly content with social media and email campaigns as well as QR,” says Lisa Foote, co-founder, MixMobi, which worked with Parasole to put together the ad.

“For performance advertisers, mobile can be an excellent alternative to SEM and PC Web display. Mobile advertising’s low cost, when combined with mobile specific advertising strategies, like click-to-call campaigns, can create a superior value proposition that is hard for good marketers to ignore,” comments Gregory Kennedy, director global marketing, InMobi.

Early adopters will see major payoffs with mobile advertising. Take advantage of this quickly emerging media and make it work for your brand. If you have any advice on how to make mobile marketing campaigns more effective, please add a comment, and thanks for the tweets.

Related reading

A QR code which leads to the URL for the ClickZ article about QR codes. Meta.