Mobile Advertising: Get It While It’s Cheap

Mobile trends couldn’t be any clearer and the trajectory is off the charts. If you don’t start taking advantage of mobile now, be prepared to regret it later.

If you don’t start taking advantage of mobile now, you will regret it later. The trends couldn’t be clearer and the trajectory is off the charts. Flurry just posted an analysis on their excellent blog showing the incredible growth of smart phones. They noted that the adoption of these devices is expanding at a much faster clip than any other consumer technology in history. If you don’t have a mobile strategy it’s time to get off the sidelines.    

Fortunately, this is also a very cost-effective time to get in the game. Companies like Facebook and Pandora have had well-publicized difficulties because their mobile usage is growing quickly but they can’t make as much money from advertising on mobile as they can on the web. If you’re a large publisher these are trying times, but if you’re a marketer it means significant opportunities abound.   

The swift mobile audience growth of traditional websites along with the rapid proliferation of mobile apps means there is now a glut of mobile ad inventory on the market. It’s not that mobile ads are lower quality, in fact according to eMarketer, the click-through rates are usually higher on mobile. It’s simply that there isn’t enough demand in the marketplace right now.

These market conditions will not last. Huge companies and startups alike are pouring significant resources into figuring out how to make more money on mobile ads and bring them to parity with the web. Smart phones are very personal devices with enormous marketing potential, and the ads on those phones will at some point become more appropriately valued.

In the meantime, there are several ways that you can take advantage of mobile advertising to market your business. If you have already built a mobile app for your business, the easiest route is to buy downloads of your app. App download networks like Tapjoy, Flurry, AdMob and GetJar offer auction-based systems that can provide app downloads for pennies. If you need a little more help or would like to get more sophisticated in your tracking, Fiksu is also a great option.

If you don’t have an app but you do have a mobile-optimized version of your website, then mobile search or display advertising is a better fit. For mobile search, the only network you need to be concerned with is Google. It’s still possible to buy mobile search clicks at a healthy discount to web clicks for the same keyword phrases. This gap has already started to close over the past few years and mobile search will probably be the first form of mobile advertising to catch up to the web. Opportunities for bargains here are truly fleeting, so get in while you can.

Some of the best deals can be found in mobile display advertising. It may take more effort to make a mobile display campaign really work for you, but it’s worth it because of the low cost of the inventory. The largest mobile display ad networks have self-service portals that make it very easy to launch test campaigns. Google is a major player in mobile display, along with Jumptap, Millennial Media and Mojiva. If your business sells outside the US, InMobi and Adfonic are also good choices.

Any of the advertising options mentioned above should give you value-priced access to mobile users right now. They are largely the exact same users you’d have to pay higher rates to target on the web. There will also be fewer ads on each page (less competition for attention), because of the smaller screen of a smart phone. Seize this unique opportunity to grow your business with mobile advertising and to develop important mobile skills for the future of your business. You won’t regret it.

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