7 Mobile Advertising Options

Like dwarves, deadly sins, hills in Rome, Kurosawa’s samurai, brides, brothers and horcruxes – mobile advertising mediums come in seven:

  • SMS,
  • WAP,
  • Mobile Display Ads,
  • Search Ads,
  • Rich Media,
  • Video and
  • Push Notifications.

These seven mediums become even more important as smartphone usage grows. Multiple reports indicate that mobile advertising is as much as five times more effective than online advertising. People are shopping from their phones more and more, and reaching those sophisticated shoppers could be crucial to making your product a success.

To keep this entry from becoming a novel, I’ll briefly explain each medium and share a few personal experiences.

SMS – Reach out and touch someone.

If your message fits into 140 characters and adds value – SMS, short messaging service, should be your top pick.

Here’s why: Pew Research reports that 85 percent of the U.S. population owns a cell phone and that 98 percent of those devices are SMS-enabled. As a medium, SMS (commonly referred to as texting) continues to grow. It grabs a user’s immediate attention and it’s effective. Click-through rates (CTRs) and conversion rates for text messaging are much higher than rates for e-mail and internet advertising, the two channels that attract the biggest share of online marketing budgets. But according to the Direct Marketing Association’s 2010 Response Rate Trend Report, SMS appears to be much more effective:

  • The average CTR for text messaging is 14.06 percent, and the average conversion rate is 8.22 percent.
  • E-mail brings in an average CTR of 6.64 percent and an average conversion rate of about 1.73 percent
  • Internet display barely hits the radar with an average CTR of 0.76 percent and average conversion rate of 4.43 percent.

An example of how SMS advertising is being used: A few weeks ago I crashed an outlet mall in search of some new threads and ended up in an Izod store.  A simple sign near the checkout offered 5 percent off my purchase if I signed up to receive text messages from Izod.  While Izod didn’t have the purple and gold rugby shirt I was looking for (the colors of my girlfriend’s rugby team), my girlfriend did find a few nice sweaters. We signed up and received a 5 percent discount. In the six weeks since then, I’ve received a total of two messages from Izod, and each has been timely.  Were I in the market for more clothes, the texts may have prompted me to head back to Izod to see if the store had added a purple and gold rugby shirt to its inventory or to grab more sweaters.  While I haven’t made any more Izod purchases – it’s not a brand I usually buy – maintaining that loose connection through the occasional text has made me think about (and notice) Izod’s products more than before.

WAP – Because not everyone has a smartphone

The mobile web didn’t always look like the web you see on a desktop computer.  For years, there was a limited mobile web called WAP, or Wireless Application Protocol, which allowed simple websites to be viewable by the simplest of phones.  While not as many users have access to WAP as SMS, if your target demo contains people not prone to own smartphones, WAP can be a great way to leverage mobility while correctly targeting your message. A full-blown display ad or video for the modern mobile web would be totally missed by those in your target demographic if all they have is access to a WAP-based cell phone.

Mobile App Display Ads Hit them in the apps

It’s tough to make a call between in-application advertising and search-driven advertising as to which will come out the winner in the long-term (if there is to be a big winner amongst the two).  That said, think about who it is you’re trying to reach – is there an application out there that your target users would be likely to use?  Is it targeted enough to hit who you want without hitting a third of the population? If so, think about using in-app advertising.

For example, I just wrapped up a Venture Strategy course where a student presented the following idea: A smartphone app that would use a photo taken of an actual shooting target, automatically score the target, archive the scoring record in the cloud, show improvement over time, and identify possible tips for more accurate shooting.  When it came time to figure out how to monetize the app, the natural thought was to use the niche nature of the application to attract advertisers.  If your company sells rifles aimed at (no pun intended) target shooters, or it sells super-accurate ammo, you might choose to advertise in this sort of application as the app’s target audience is comprised of exactly those customers you want to reach.

Search Ads – Be where they want you to be

Search ads on a mobile device are very similar to those in the desktop space: If I do a search on my smartphone for a keyword your company “paid” for, your ad will pop up at the top of the page. (Keywords can be purchased on a pay per click or monthly fee model – with prices dependent on the search engine you buy through and on the popularity of the keyword). These searches are often times a very effective way to reach customers. At other times, search ads are endlessly frustrating because some advertisers buy keywords but don’t actually offer the product, or, if they do, they give misleading pricing information in the search ad.

I recently found a search ad useful. This past Christmas, I received an ultra-cool black vintage rotary phone – sealed in its original packaging and untouched.  Sitting and playing with it while imagining myself as a chubby version of Mad Men’s Don Draper was enjoyable, but I also knew the old phone wouldn’t just jack right into my U-Verse voice service.  So I did a search on my iPhone and the first link was to a site selling the necessary converter.  To be thorough, I looked at a few other results, but that first link offered what I needed – at the right price – so I bought it.  If that company hadn’t bought the keyword, I may have purchased at another online store or ended up with a competing piece of equipment.

Rich Media – Give ‘em the old razzle dazzle

Rich media offers interactivity with an advertisement through video, sound and even gaming. It looks great and that rich look attracts advertisers and ad creators. As more and more people have access to smartphones capable of viewing rich media ads, they’re only going to get more popular.  But ask yourself: Is my product worthy of the razzle-dazzle?  Will my target market respond to all those bells and whistles? While a flashy ad for a new car or a pair of designer shoes might get people on their toes, amped up ads for cleaning supplies and low budget socks aren’t likely to do the same.

Video – Make it Chocolate Rain

Consumption of internet video is exploding. Almost everyone has watched David come home from the dentist, Charlie bite his older brother or try to figure out “where the hell” Matt is dancing that awful, awful dance of his. These viral videos (and bunches more) are available on mobile platforms. Which means the internet video boom is happening on mobile handsets too. What’s more, these videos get shared, either as links sent from mobile devices or because people sit next to each other and watch a Potter Puppet Pals video.

Predicting what videos will go viral is hard. The equation isn’t as clear as it might seem – but sponsoring ads connected to those videos can pay off. Dr Pepper worked out a sponsorship deal for a spinoff of Tay Zonday’s “Chocolate Rain” video after it had gone viral. Titled “Cherry Chocolate Rain,” the Dr Pepper version of Zonday’s video became a viral video ad for Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper. The eyeballs that take in the spinoff video (or spinoffs of the spinoff, like the one starring the Dramatic Chipmunk) also take in a message about Dr Pepper. By 2010, Zonday’s original “Chocolate Rain” video, which was released in 2007, had over 60 million views.

Push Notification – Just called to say …

Push notifications let an application listen for incoming info from home base. For instance, I’ve got a Chase app that pings me every time a large deposit or withdrawal hits my account. Similarly, Facebook hits me up when my status grabs a comment.  If you’ve got an application for your store or product that users keep on their devices, you can send push notifications to make sure everyone is aware of new sales or new products. You can also just shoot them the occasional ping to maintain awareness.

Which of these methods do you find most effective for your product and why?
Which one is most attractive to you as a consumer?  Share your thoughts in the box below.
David Egger IRU Mobility Programs Lead Marketing Manager AT&T About David