Mobile advertising in the marketing mix

While the universe is constantly expanding, the spread of new technologies and new media devices are speeding up. Digital telephony needed 75 years to reach 50 million users, the radio needed only 38 years. Television reached this size of audience in 13 years, which everyone thought was inimitable success at the time… until the internet broke this record under just 4 years. After this it’s not surprising that the first iPhone – launched in April 2007 – needed only 2 years and 9 months to reach 50 million users.

A few years back getting 50 million people to use your product or service was a huge achievement – in the recent past Draw Something app was downloaded by this many users in 50 days, Angry Bird needed only 35 days. Back in high school we’ve been taught, that ontogeny basically repeats phylogeny, just speeded up.

Could this be true for the internet and the mobile phones?

With certain limits, absolutely. Jacob Nielsen, “the pope of web usability” came to the conclusion, that the mobile web in 2009 resembles the desktop web of 1998. Slow load time, the scrolling as the most serious ergonomic problem, overcrowded sites are all problems, that made as feel like we travelled back in time. There is a resemblance from advertising perspective as well.

Recalling the national “memories”, the same advertisers (bank, telco, cars) began to dominate the web, who are now ruling the mobile platform. The amount of users is similar as well, but the growth of the mobile user base is far more exponential. There was little to none research material on the subject, and less websites with useful information.

At the time, when the first movie theatres were appearing, most people thought movies were just cheep substitutes for theaters. Later, they thought that television was just a “small movie theater”. We remember the first years of internet, when many people thought it was simply enough to just “stick” the content made for print media to the screen.

After this, it’s not surprising that people thought with the appearance of smartphones, that they are just small computers, and they determined the possibilities of the small screen according to this.

Only in the past 2-3 years began more and more people to realize, that smartphones are an independent medium, which needs a different frame of mind than other channels of communication.

The interpretation of mobile as the “smaller sibling” of the web lead to serious distortions. While in the past few years, time spent with content consumption on smartphones was growing radically, advertisers seemed to ignore this, and continued to use traditional channels. The reason behind this was the same thing in case of the web. Advertisers didn’t use it, they were afraid of it, and they were saying that “only college students and the IT people use it”, but in reality they were the ones, who didn’t understand it and therefore didn’t want to know, who actually used it. We already went around the topic, it was our favorite presentation.

A few years needed to pass for advertisers, media designers and media owners to begin to use smartphones. This way they understood the concept of mobile advertising and what’s it good for, how it appears on smartphones, etc.

To understand the place of mobile advertising in the marketing mix, wee need to get familiar with the characteristics of content consumption on smartphones. Mobiles can’t be seen as an independent channel of marketing. Instead of the previously mentioned media convergence, a new and complex environment was born using multiple channels and displays at the same time.
But mobile is still in the back rows of a media plan, where it’s easy to fall out.

But we are not afraid because time is working for the mobile, and for many customers, it’s already not in the last rows of the media plan.

We have two suggestions.

The first one is that you need to start from your target group; it’s important to have as much information about them, about their content consumption habits as possible. This way you can find it out immediately if they use mobile or if it’s worth to engage them on traditional platforms.

Secondly, it’s practical to use mobile as an extension to other media outlets, and integrate it in the media mix. (Which is a little bit difficult, because mobile sometimes is not a channel, but a consumer behavior.) These days there are a lot of examples showing that taking into account the features of mobile and integrating it into your existing toolkit leads to surprisingly successful results.

July 13, 2015
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