Mobile Advertising Basics

Summer 2013

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Thinking of integrating mobile advertising into your marketing ad programs? This article is a brief overview of how it works and some good options to get your feet wet with a few trial programs.

Primarily what should be noted is that the environments and regulations between mobile carriers, devices and operating systems drastically vary. Although there is one exception, the ad costs on all systems are based on cost per million (CPM) impressions. The rates will vary from carrier to carrier, as do the click through rates. The cost of mobile advertising is considerably less than online advertising due to the limitations of ad space real estate.

Mary Meeker, a Wall Street Analyst, reported that the effective CPM for desktop web ads is about $3.50 while the CPM for mobile ad average is just $0.75. Though the $0.75 is an average, if you look at the iPhone CPM, they are at $2.85 (USD). They have been and continue to be the highest cost.

The types of mobile ads available -

  • Search
  • Display
    • Rich Media
    • Banners
    • Video
  • SMS/MMS/P2P messaging

Ben-Gay Aspirin

Mobile Search Ads vs. Mobile Display Ads

According to eMarketer, marketers devote more funds to mobile search ads than display ads. These search ads are synonymous with Google keywords and banner ads. Though this would logically be a better target to place your funds, the click through rate is lower than the video and rich media rates. These rich media ads are more engaging and therefore more valuable for advertisers.

So, if the click through rate is not as good with search ads why are people still doing this? Based on what we've seen, people feel it's just easier and use what they know from on-line, browser-based advertising. Yes, company names are being seen, however the small amount of space allowed with these search ads, is not the most effective way to get brand recognition when advertising in the mobile atmosphere.

It may help when putting together a campaign to shift thinking to understand that the audience behaviors from web based ads to mobile ads are quite different. The mobile piece really should be geared towards video, applications and rich media productions that engage audiences and is shared by audiences. The value of viral media today can lead to great results for a company's website awareness, search engine optimization, brand recognition, and ultimately sales.


When creating a rich media mobile display ad, it is important to understand the vitality of apps. Apps have had a huge success with click through rates in advertising, as they are engaging and often entertaining.

We are in an era where industry is for the most part, forcing us to use Cloud Based Services and where billions of consumers world wide are carrying around Internet-connected mobile devices from 10 to 16 hours a day. If you look at these numbers, spending the time and funds to develop an intriguing mobile advertising program makes sense.

How Mobile Ad Placement Works

Whether a company chooses to book the ads on their own or through an agency, there are quite a number of ways to tackle this.

An ad agency for example will work with either Ad Network, Ad Exchange, and or directly with the Publishers.

Publishers may be anything from Facebook to Google, YouTube, AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, Twitter, Pandora, et cetera.

If an agency goes to an Ad Network such as Airpush, InMobi, MoPub or DMG, the Ad Network then will aggregate the inventory, audience measurement and targeting to a Publisher. The Publisher often then runs this on multiple networks.

If an agency goes to an Ad Exchange such as OpenX, Samsung, AdHub or Nexage, the Ad Exchange will aggregate the inventory and send it to the publisher. The Publisher would then run exchanges to optimize ad inventory rollout. It is important to note that Ad Exchanges are not as commonly used as Ad Networks when placing mobile ads.

More commonly, the Ad Networks work with the Exchanges to buy wholesale inventory for advertisers and streamline multiple networks for publishers, however this is an ever-evolving process right now.

Working Directly with Individual Publishers

Working directly with one or many publishers can have benefits, such as the opportunity for better placement or type of placement. Generally one has more control with this method, however it's then up to the agency or brand to seek out all the publishers they wish to deal with. In essence, they become a small version of an ad network. Some of the top Publishers are Apple's iAD, Google Admob, and YouTube.

Making the Most of Your Mobile Advertising

For ad placement, we encourage you to try both the Ad Network approach and the Individual Publisher approach. There are huge differences in options, reporting, targeting, etc. Additionally it's not a costly fee to decide which model fits best for your company and bandwidth.

Investing in a comprehensive ad campaign will give you more visibility and continuity with your message. It's critical that whatever your call to action is that you have a "mobile" landing page and a good system to capture users who click through the ads.

Remember, mobile advertising is much more about engaging with the opportunity to entertain and interact with the people.

If using the GPS type ads and running a spot for passers by to stop in for a discounted meal or product, remember to inform employees of the current programs running and make sure that the products are actually available and in a place that's accessible to employees and customers.

For help with your next ad campaign or program placement, contact us at