Is Mobile Advertising the Future of Digital Marketing?

Kristin Parsons, Assistant Media Planner

The difference between a desktop and a smartphone is that the latter is typically attached to the consumer’s hand, essentially allowing for an endless flow of information. Insert mobile advertising, which according to recent market trends, is quickly becoming an integral factor of digital media and marketing.


In a world that is growing more dependent on smart phones every day, it is essential that we adjust our approach to digital marketing accordingly. Recent studies show that around 51% of the US population use mobile devices, while only about 42% still actively use desktops. There are now billions of users on mobile, whereas desktop users are measured in hundreds of millions.



Chasing Behavior


These days, for the first time in history, mobile usage surpassed desktop and marketers would be wise to capitalize on this global platform shift. You shouldn’t expect to see conversions if you fail to target users where they are—on their mobile devices. Companies allocating the majority of their advertising budgets towards desktop are likely losing revenue to their more progressive competitors.


Recent data from eMarketer suggests that by the end of this year, mobile ad investments will reach $30.45 billion, surpassing desktop spend by $2.78 billion and print by $1.42 billion. Business Insider has predicted that nearly $42 billion will be spent in US mobile advertising alone by 2018.

Right now, analysts still see a significant discrepancy between mobile advertising expenditure and mobile usage. This gap is expected to decrease within the next few years. As advertisers alter spending behavior to mirror that of consumer behavior, mobile ad revenue will steadily increase over the next few years.  


The Mobile Platform

Given these trends in the mobile market, it has become essential for digital advertisers to tap into the key mobile platforms of search, social media, display, and video.

Mobile search and social media have historically driven the greatest percentage of US mobile ad revenue and should continue to do so in the next few years, with mobile display and video ad revenue lagging not too far behind at compound annual growth rates of 96% and 73% from 2013 to 2018. Noteworthy is the fact that programmatic ads still account for less than half of mobile display revenue due to the cookie-based targeting limitations on mobile devices. Within these platforms is also the slight issue of ad blocking, which poses a rather limited threat given that ads are served in one of two ways on mobile: via the mobile web or in-app. Within mobile browsers, JavaScript tags—and thus the advertisements they trigger—can be effectually blocked. However, mobile users spend the majority of their time “in-app,” where JavaScript doesn’t exist. Therefore, mobile ads tend to have better performance and reach when served in-app rather than on mobile browsers.


Cross-Device Marketing

A relatively new and revolutionary feature of mobile advertising is the emerging technique of cross-device marketing, which provides advertisers with insight into the relationships between unique devices, desktop activity, mobile exchanges, mobile data providers, and geo-specific locations. Understanding these relationships allows for the construction of unique user profiles and inferred consumer behaviors. Marketers can virtually follow each unique user throughout his daily life, gaining insight into individual characteristics such as the user’s vocation, hobbies, and even preferred coffee shop.

Essentially, cross-device technology allows marketers to understand the path of conversion among devices once a relationship has been established between a desktop and its associated mobile devices. Oftentimes, success can only be attributed to mobile ads after this relationship has been identified. The reason being that given the sense of security and simplicity associated with desktops, conversions tend to occur there. Therefore, the goal of mobile advertising should be to utilize ad space on mobile platforms in order to ultimately drive users towards brand awareness and conversions, regardless of where the actual conversion occurs.   


Unless we all suddenly give up our relentless and vast consumption information on our smart devices—spoiler: not happening—then mobile certainly is the future of media and marketing, or at least the central component. Don’t miss out.