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Mobile advertising: Make it engaging

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Mobile marketing might be growing by leaps and bounds, but not the case perhaps for display advertising. According to research firm IDC, mobile display advertising attracted less than 20% of total ad spending on mobile marketing, as reported by Digiday. The majority went to paid search. And while it presented different figures, these trends were echoed by eMarketer, which estimated that mobile search advertising will reach $1.28 billion this year, versus $800 billion for display advertising. The slower growth in mobile display doesn't necessarily mean it will fall by the wayside, rather that marketers haven't yet figured out a way to make it pay. In part, this could be because of the relatively new infrastructure devoted to serving up mobile ads—there's a learning curve involved in developing networks that can narrowly target the right people, said Bruce Nowjack, a consultant who specializes in mobile marketing. Currently, the leading mobile display networks include Apple, Google and Millennial Media. “The thing that gets difficult but more important is making sure the ads you're displaying are reaching the people you're trying to target,” Nowjack said. “As analytics improve, we'll be able to deliver ads more precisely, so we're already seeing fewer random ads in the mobile space.” Once ads are delivered, the challenge becomes matching the ad to the medium—because mobile screens are so much smaller, a typical banner ad would only have room for a few words, hardly an effective message. Instead, said mobile marketing expert Christina “CK” Kerley, the trick is to make the ads as engaging as possible. “There are interesting things you can do to mobile display ads, whether it's on a website or an in-app ad,” she said. “You have to engage the customer and do something that's uniquely suited to the mobile environment.” As an example, Kerley gave UPS' recent “That's Amore” b-to-b campaign, which included a mobile component with display ads that linked to case studies of real business owners who used UPS to improve their logistics. “Their mobile ads linked to customer stories about how UPS helped them,” she said. Mobile display is also a perfect venue for videos, she said. “It's prime for the mobile environment,” she said. “It's not too copy-heavy, and it gets the point across.” Mobile marketers can also offer promotions and coupons, although these strategies are perhaps better suited to the b-to-c market. As mobile marketing continues to mature, Nowjack predicts that privacy concerns will continue to weigh heavily on future campaigns. With improving analytics and tracking, mobile marketers might soon have access to detailed personal information about their potential customers. “Everybody's looking at how can you do mobile advertising and respect privacy,” he said. “From the ads I've seen across different platforms, the ads are getting more targeted in general and heading toward more engaging, interactive platforms.”
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