In fact, the bad economy may actually be a net positive for mobile advertising, as companies are looking for ways to increase the ROI of their advertising campaigns—which is exactly the advantage that the highly-targeted mobile medium presents. But while its robust growth is receiving a flood of attention, less discussed are best practices for actually getting the most out of mobile advertising campaigns. At BuzzCity, we not only run one of the largest mobile advertising networks in the world, but we also run campaigns for our own business. Over the years, we have collected some best practices for mobile advertising campaigns—here they are.
Understanding the Medium
First of all, it is helpful to take a step back and consider how people access the mobile Internet and applications on their phones. Earlier this year, BuzzCity announced the results of a global survey of users across the more than 2,000 mobile web sites that comprise our mobile advertising network. Perhaps surprisingly, the survey found that most people who access the mobile Internet do not actually do so while “mobile.” Rather, they are surfing the mobile Internet while they are at work, home, etc.
Less than six percent actually use the mobile Internet while travelling, commuting or outdoors. In terms of usage, the survey found that most people use the mobile Internet and applications for communication with friends through chat, blogs and discussion groups—basically, social networking (60%). We found much smaller, but still significant, use of the mobile Internet for entertainment (16%) and for looking up specific information (10%). Advertisers can certainly learn a lot from surveys like this, with the first lesson being not to make any assumptions about the medium that may cause your mobile advertising efforts to lose effectiveness. These assumptions can include thinking that mobile Internet usage is tied to a certain demographic, or that it is most effective for local or location-based advertising—throw these out and start with a fresh look at the facts.
Once you have done your homework and know what you will be getting from a mobile campaign, we have found that the following four points are critical to consider:
Identify your Audience and Objectives
I know—it sounds pretty straight forward. But advertisers must really think about this point in the context of the mobile medium. Start from the beginning and ask yourself again who you are trying to reach with the campaign and the action you want them to take once you reach them. You no doubt thought about these questions when you conceptualized your campaign, designed ad banners and wrote copy, but taking a fresh look at these points will help you determine when and where to place the mobile ads.
Date and Time Targeting
Mobile advertising is particularly time-sensitive. What do I mean by this? It is important to think about the fact that mobile usage ebbs and flows by time-of-day and day-of-week. And mobile is a dynamic medium—meaning you want to reach users when usage is high (not too big of a stretch there), but also when they are most engaged and most likely to be open to clicking on a specific mobile advertisement.
Day-of-week and precise dates also have an effect on who you will reach with your mobile campaign. We’ve found that students, for example, don’t surf on holidays. From my experience at BuzzCity, two specific examples from the UK and Nigeria come to mind in this regard: In both of these countries, mobile users tend to check email messages early in the morning. Office workers don’t typically surf during their lunch hours (we’ve found that across the board lunchtime, in fact, is the least active period on our network).
Across our entire advertising network, the most surfing takes place during the evening hours. School holidays, festivals and public holidays will also impact mobile device usage, and should be taken into account when planning mobile campaigns.
All marketers are familiar with content targeting—which ensures that a marketing or advertising message is delivered to an audience that is most likely to respond to your message. This is where mobile advertising is most powerful and advantageous for marketers because the medium allows advertisers to utilize content targeting to an unprecedented degree.
For example, mobile advertisements can be targeted to appear on phones made by specific carriers or manufacturers (Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, etc.) and operating system/platform. The former is a particularly useful feature for e-commerce transactions that are tied to a specific mobile provider—something you will want to consider if your call-to-action is designed to result in an e-commerce transaction. You can also target technical features like Bluetooth, Flash and music players. This is something to keep in mind if your application requires a specific technology—like apps that work on GPS or if your graphical advertisement is designed to play in Flash.
And Finally…Test, Test, Test
Perhaps most importantly—especially if this is your first foray into mobile advertising, and before you formally launch your campaign or spend a lot of money, start small and test. Try different ads and types of ads, different copy and various targeting strategies to see which elicit the best response. Measure responses by reviewing site logs, survey responses and other mobile web site analysis tools. Testing with a small budget will also help you avoid falling into a trap of “over-targeting.” If you are too specific, the audience becomes small, your ROI may drop and you may not be able to have the ad served often enough to be cost effective.
Perhaps the best advice I can give is something that I constantly advise—to use a mobile advertising network that can instantly provide the scale and reach necessary to conduct truly successful mobile advertising campaigns. The mobile medium is growing by leaps and bounds and holds real promise for enhancing the marketing mix in ways previously unimagined. But like any effective advertising and marketing technique, strategic thinking is required to take full advantage of the opportunity and reap the benefits of mobile advertising.