Executives from mobile ad network AdMob explained that it's both easy and inexpensive to start adding mobile to the marketing mix.
In a crowded session during last week's iMedia Breakthrough Summit in Lake Las Vegas, AdMob Sales VP Tony Nethercutt asserted that, "Now that it has scale, mobile is a reality" within media plans and that planners can now easily and inexpensively dip experimental toes into the mobile waters.
AdMob is an ad network in the WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) space, otherwise known as the mobile web. Mobile web applications are customarily "off deck," which means that mobile phone users reach mobile web advertisements once they have started a mobile web browser and visited a mobile web page. In contrast, mobile content or advertising that a consumer reaches directly from the handset would be considered "on deck."
The mobile space is growing by leaps and bounds. For example, according to Telephia, 227 million mobile subscribers -- or 43 percent of the total U.S. subscribers -- used SMS in Q4 of 2006. Not represented in the Telephia data is the large number of people playing mobile games, Nethercutt noted, going on to say that another key data company in the mobile space is M:Metrics.
Of the millions of people who have access to the mobile web, 30 million are actively using it. A major spike in usage happened in June of 2006, during the World Cup.
Mobile data users skew young and male, Nethercutt observed, while mobile messengers and downloaders skew female. In general, "the mobile web is not gender specific."
But is the mobile web a good environment for advertisers? "There is this whole notion that 90 percent of people polled don't want ads on their cell phones," Nethercutt said. "That's probably true the way the question was asked; who the hell would want that?" he continued. However, he went on to explain that once you're in a mobile web environment, "you've gone onto a mobile website," which means that a consumer's ability to withstand ads is higher given the similarity to non-mobile websites.
AdMob, Nethercutt said, is "the world leader where you can go and get global inventory in a mobile environment. In the last 10 weeks, we've served 1 billion ads. Most of the targeting we do is phone specific."
The network is able to serve both CPC text and CPM graphical ads, and has partnered with more than 1,200 mobile websites -- "a network of really long-tail sites," says Nethercutt -- to execute campaigns for adidas, Disney, MTV Mobile, eBay and others. (More details on individual campaigns, impressions and clickthrough levels can be found on the PowerPoint slides for this session.
Different mobile networks and publishers target consumers differently, by country, context, handset manufacturer and device capabilities. "Why serve video to a phone that can't run video?" Nethercutt said.
At this point in the session, Nethercutt turned to the audience and, remarkably, invited representatives from other mobile ad networks -- including Enpocket and Medio -- to join the conversation about the mobile space in general.
Enpocket's Mo Moore, for example, described how his network is interested in geotargeting. Nethercutt pointed out that Enpocket's relationship with carrier data from Sprint enables this sort of targeting.
As the room discussed the right ways to work with mobile, Moore suggested that marketers, "Put some money into ROS, put some money into content and experiment."
Returning to the presentation, Nethercutt described how AdMob's first mobile brand advertiser (as opposed to DR) was Scope, in a campaign shared with rival mobile ad networks Enpocket and Third Screen Media. Run by Procter and Gamble's AdLab, the campaign featured both banners and text ads and was an attempt to rebrand the mouthwash for young men.
In another campaign for adidas that was text only, "We had a small fraction of that buy, but we drove the majority of the downloads," Nethercutt said. And the reason was that mobile users were already on their devices and engaged.
Because AdMob has text ads, advertisers can use it to copy test mobile ads. "It's very quick and easy to get in and start testing," Ad Mob's Matt Shaw said. Spending approximately $20.00 and five minutes, Shaw tested a variety of different kinds of copy for the upcoming "Transformers" movie. "While click rates aren't all that impressive," Shaw said, "there might be up to a 20 percent opt-in for this sort of mobile campaign."
Why is there such a high response to mobile web ads? "People react to a WAP ad with intent," Enpocket's Mo Moore suggested.
"Conversion rates are ridiculous compared to an online world," agreed Omar Tawakol, chief advertising officer for Medio Systems, another mobile ad network.
Nethercutt then introduced Milward Brown's Mike Ripka to discuss what the research company is investigating with regard to mobile consumer behavior. These questions include, what media works in different parts of the funnel; how to plan media based on advertising effectiveness rather than solely reach; how different media work on the same brand metrics and, if TV generates awareness, how does mobile help me?
The company is convinced that the mobile web is just getting started in the United States. "We really believe that WAP is going to take off this year," Ripka said.
Right now, mobile is everywhere, Nethercutt continued. With "30 million users per month -- probably 3, 4, 5 million per day -- it's a question of who you buy it from and how many places you have to go to get" mobile inventory.
AdMob's Adam Schneider brought the session to a close with a clear statement: "There's no reason to wait to use mobile." Indeed, AdMob is so committed to enabling marketers to experiment with mobile that they are offering free or low-cost trials to marketers who contact the company via email at email@example.com.
Brad Berens is editor in chief and chief content officer at iMedia Communications. Read full bio.