Mobile ad buying vs. traditional online While mobile ad buying resembles traditional online ad buying in many ways, there are also important differences. Tracking is a perfect example. With online advertising, buyers expect certain key pieces of data to make their decisions, such as the number of unique visitors, whether and how many times they return, time spent on site, how deep into the site they went, etc. These are enabled by persistent cookies that uniquely identify an individual.
Pricing and trackingFrom a financial standpoint, the basic pricing models are different as well, with most mobile ad networks using a throwback to past strategies. While leading online ad networks have moved towards pay-for-performance revenue models, where advertisers only pay when consumers click on their placements (CPC, or cost-per-click), the prominent mobile ad networks charge based on number of impressions served (CPMs, or cost-per-thousand impressions). CPMs were used in the early days of banner ads, where advertisers paid for impressions whether or not the user clicked.
In the case of mobile, the number of impressions could be highly variable (depending on how consumers use their phones), not to mention any engagement or even seeing the mobile ad at all. Another approach is more of a sponsorship model, with prominent placement on the "carrier deck," which is the homepage on a phone when the user first launches the browser. However, many of these deals are done as "one-offs" or "pilots" with varying price tags. With no consistency across vendors or even carrier decks, mobile advertising's arbitrary pricing is like the wild west compared to the online ad networks where market forces actually determine cost and placement (e.g., Google Adwords' auction style system).
Tips for mobile ad planning and buying
Without specifically addressing the mobile ad world as a different animal from that of traditional online, buyers can use the wrong assumptions and criteria to make their decisions. Or worse, they could regurgitate the seller’s incorrect statements and accidentally mislead their own clients. Mobile is a powerful medium for brands to get in the flow of a consumer's everyday life. But it is essential to understand the needs of a consumer in this environment and the true fundamental analytics to make good buys. The days to just "do something mobile" are over. Money can be spent well to enable marketers to excel in smart mobile.
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Jordan Greene is principal/mobile media at Mella Media.
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