Ad Serving in a Mobile World

by Amy Kocot, Geary Interactive

The mobile ad market is growing quickly. According to iMedia Connection, 39 percent of all text users in the United States are adults over 35 years old - a shift from the once very youthful demographic, providing a wider audience for advertisers  than ever before. Additionally, over half the population now uses a mobile phone as their primary line.

This new marketing strategy also brings a heavy re-allocation of campaign spending. According to the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), 40 percent of major brands have deployed text messaging campaigns and 18 percent have launched multimedia messaging campaigns. MMA research also predicts 89 percent of major brands will market via mobile phone by 2008.

Delivering the Ads
The basic application of mobile ad serving is supported by a Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) - a secure plan that allows users to access information immediately through their mobile devices. WAP supports most wireless networks and is maintained through micro-browsers with small file sizes to accommodate low memory restrictions of handheld devices and low bandwidth constraints of a wireless-handheld network.

The Wireless Markup Language (
Mobile Ad-serving Techniques
Key to generating qualified ad-serving actions to the appropriate audience is to consider the target demographic. Identify the audience appropriate to the campaign and then incorporate messages, graphics, calls to action and banners tailored to their interests and purchasing behavior.

One tactic is to take advantage of cross-medium opportunities by integrating mobile ads with other forms of mass communication. Several mobile providers use television ads to provide viewers with a specific message or number sequence that they can send via text message to the network and, in turn, receive their favorite ringtone or background for their mobile device. Internet users can be served advertisements when they visit a particular Web page that links them to a resource for downloading music onto their mobile devices. This modern use of multiple mediums across various intersections connects online and offline advertising efforts with mobile users everywhere.

Along with this component of effective ad-serving efforts, advertisers are inclined to identify suitable partners for their mobile campaigns. Ericsson, for example, partnered with Intel to strengthen the connection of mobile broadband with multimedia by offering mobile broadband service packages for mobile PC users.

Finally, it is important to recognize quantifiable campaign objectives. By planning, employing and tracking specific campaign qualities within and among the partnerships of the campaign, results can be studied for a proper fit.

The Hurdles
Successful implementation of mobile ad-serving techniques can be quite a challenge for agencies, advertisers and brands. Various hurdles include consumer acceptance, technology constraints, cost limitations and carrier regulations.

Ad serving on mobile devices is largely dependent on the acceptance of users to adopt this placement of advertisements. Ads on mobile devices are rarely sought after voluntarily, so the consumer must be specifically targeted with highly relevant messages.

The costs of the mobile ad-serving technology are also creating barriers. Advertising-rich content is expensive to generate and distribute, resulting in high costs for both the advertisers and the consumers.

Additionally, advertising on mobile devices involves a closed network approach where each carrier has complete control over what is displayed. Every network has different rules and regulations for formatting and distributing advertisements so the freedom of the advertisers is restricted and strategically monitored.

Successful Implementation
The solution to successful mobile ad serving is in reaching the advertiser's specific target audience, acquiring proof that the message was received by the user's device and obtaining information about how the user responded to the message. In order to incorporate these attributes, programmers have designed analytics tracking and behavioral targeting methods to encourage consumer feedback and give advertisers an idea of how to update and reconfigure their campaigns to bring in higher returns.

In addition, the top providers constantly release new products making it easier for basic Web surfers to adopt this technology and for adservers to integrate new and more technical campaigns.

The latest development in mobile ad-serving comes from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), announcing the formation of a mobile committee to set guidelines on the practice. This will ultimately pave the way for ad serving technologies to grow along with future mobile devices and practices. As the expansion of this technology yields promise for the future, we can expect a dramatic market growth in the mobile advertising industry to match the lofty predictions.

About the Author:
Amy Kocot is the Marketing Coordinator for Geary Interactive, a San Diego, CA-based digital marketing agency.