A marketer's guide to mobile display advertising

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Mobile is a big word. It is only six letters, but still manages to strike fear into the hearts of many a media executive. Few people completely grasp mobile advertising because it involves so many disparate elements that constantly change. In fact, it changes so quickly that even an introductory presentation that I wrote three years ago is laughably out of date. The most significant development is that smart phones are now "feature phones." According to Nielsen, 50 percent of Americans now have smartphones and predicts 70 percent of cell phones will be smartphones by the end of 2013.

Meanwhile, in just three years both tablets and apps have once again reinvented the mobile space. Apple did not invent the tablet computer, but its iPad (introduced January 2010) reinvigorated the category. Since then, more than 40 million tablets have been sold in the US. If nothing else, tablets have accelerated American's love of apps. Similarly, Apple's 2009 App Store launch thrust apps into the mainstream. More than 450,000 apps have been launched on Apple's App Store alone. According to the CTIA, the average smartphone has 22 apps loaded. App usage is accelerating; over 600 million apps were downloaded last month. It is a virtuous circle -- smartphones and tablets drive app usage, which in turn drives more people to smartphones and tablets. Indeed, mobile advertising is totally new again. No wonder the media community approaches mobile with some trepidation - by the time the plan is live, the marketplace has changed again.

Every year the advertising industry jokes that next year is the year of mobile. That time has come: 2012 is the year of mobile. However the space poses many challenges and considerations for new display advertisers. Here are some things to consider.