How to Reach Mobile Users in 2018: Best Practices for Brands


User acquisition on mobile is an integral part of any working marketing strategy nowadays, along with the digital advertising.

But even for experienced marketers, it can be hard to follow all the nuances of mobile advertising and successfully implement them to attract paying customers. Reaching out to mobile users in 2018 entails knowing the ins and outs of programmatic advertising, being able to choose intermediaries and optimize campaigns in an efficient way. So what are the main challenges that advertisers should pay their attention to?

Finding the right ad format: display or video?

With the opportunities that the contemporary technology provides, advertisers may get overwhelmed with the choice of ad formats. Successful promotion isn’t only about creative deliverables and presenting the product in the most attractive way. The chosen ad format will also dictate the budget allocation and the choice of partners for running advertising campaigns. Publishers also have a major impact on how ads are presented in the context.

At this stage, it’s important for advertisers to decide which ad formats they want to use for their product. Essentially, the choice is between the two: banner ads and their variables and video ads. In general, these two formats require different technical capabilities from publishers and advertising platforms, so advertisers have to make sure that their partners support the chosen ad format.

Display ads can be served both on the websites and in the apps. Banner ads are generally less expensive, comparing to video. Additionally, there is a variety of formats to choose from: interstitials, banners, dialogue ads, expandable ads, etc.

On the downside, users would not be happy with banner ads that interfere with the app flow. And there’s also the issue of banner blindness (users being so used to the advertised content that they unintentionally cut it out of their vision) — so advertisers need to take that into account. To get the full value out of the display ads, advertisers should work with quality publishers, who know how to place ads strategically into the natural intermissions of content.

Video ads can be served in-stream (before or after video content in a video player) or out-stream (if a banner appears on top of the content). First of all, video ads require better bandwidth and faster internet connection. Advertisers that want to focus on video should make sure that their target audience has the right devices and will be able to load video ads without latency and delays.

Some video ad providers are already able to show HD quality even to users with slow internet connection. Whether their advertising partner can offer such service is up to brands to find out before setting up the campaign.

Publishers that support VPAID or VAST tags can achieve two essential goals. Firstly, they are able to display ads in a correct manner across all devices. And secondly, they let advertisers track the results of their campaigns. This is another point that brands need to consider when working with user acquisition partners. Only having gathered the data on the campaign run, brands can make informed decisions about campaign optimization. Therefore, video tags are extremely useful.

As for the cost, video is, in general, more expensive than banner ads. This is explained by high efficiency, view rates and popularity of this ad format.

There is no definite answer as to which ad format works best. Brands have to choose the one that works for them and helps achieve their goals within the allocated budget. The key advice here is to find a reliable partner that can provide access to great publishers and through them, the relevant audience.

Distinguishing between the programmatic methods

Another important element in the mobile advertising strategy is choosing the method of buying ad placements. Brands can manage this in-house or delegate the task to advertising partners. In any case, it’s crucial to be acquainted with the basics of traffic purchasing, because there is a direct correlation between the type of platform and the quality of audience and the required budget size.

The brands that want to conduct scalable ad campaigns and attract large volumes of traffic can turn to programmatic and work by the CPM payment model. There are several options for programmatic trade:

  • RTB marketplaces. These are the exchanges where Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) bid against each other in an open auction. DSPs compete for inventory on the behalf of advertisers. Brands should sign up to a DSP to purchase inventory in an open auction. The marketplaces provide access to thousands of publishers in real time. It takes a couple of seconds for bid to win and for an ad to be shown. The advantage of this method for advertisers is in the volume of traffic that can be attracted and the price of the campaign, which is lower than it would have been with other methods.


  • Header bidding. This method intends that publishers with the most desirable inventory open it for bids from selected advertisers. For brands, this method of programmatic trade guarantees better quality of placements and more control over the context where ad is placed. On the downside, advertisers can only get a limited volume of traffic, because the number of partners is fixed. The quality of traffic is supposed to be better, but the cost of impressions will be bigger too.


  • Private Marketplaces (PMPs). Buying impressions in private exchanges means trading only with selected partners. Advertisers get access to vetted and classified inventory from premium publishers, which helps reducing brand hazards. With the better idea of the audience and content that publishers provide, private marketplaces are more reliable than open RTB exchanges. But more expensive too, with access to a reduced number of potential users.

Brands can choose one of the aforementioned methods or their combination, to achieve the balance between cost and quality of purchased traffic.

Getting the full potential out of analytics and optimization

  • Realize that fraud is a problem. Ad fraud is a massive concern for mobile marketers. Reportedly, $7-$16 billion is taken from advertisers through ad fraud every year. Advertisers need to allocate time and resources to detecting and combating fraud, to reduce the amount of revenue lost due to fraudulent traffic. It is recommended to check whether the traffic provider utilizes anti-fraud solutions from trusted brands.


  • Pay attention to conversions and the quality of traffic. Always keep a close watch on the traffic and the conversion rates that each partner is able to deliver. Track down the sources that don’t perform well and switch them off. Get updates about the campaigns, and discover the audiences and ads that generate the best CTR rates, reach and engagement.


  • Make adjustments in real time. The advantage of technology that is capable of delivering ads in real time is the availability of data just as users view the ads. Using these stats is essential for correcting the course of an ad campaign and adjusting the budget to focus on the traffic sources that deliver the best results.


  • Optimize for context. Carefully curating the context in which your ad is placed is essential for brand safety. When advertisers are not being highly selective about context, there is a loss of brand perception. There is no need to seek out exclusive placements, not all brands require special context. But paying attention to the ad environment is crucial for successful ad campaigns. The best use of online advertising is to reach out to the right audience and lead its interests towards your product.


With a combination of the right ad formats, channels and user acquisition partners brands have solid chances of success. But even with all the technical advances, the main requirement for advertisers is to know their target audience well and be able to pinpoint their interests, reach out to them with a relevant message, turning a user into a paying customer.


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