News Leadership 3.0

February 10, 2011

Mobile ads poised to hit big—are you ready?

Mobile advertising is likely to start booming in 2011. Smart news organizations can adapt their mobile sites and text alerts (and the ad-unit offerings they support) to this into a revenue opportunity.

This week ComScore published its 2010 US Digital Year in Review—a compilation of key statistics about the kinds of media and communication devices Americans are buying, how they’re using them, and predictions for the coming year.

Among the report’s predictions, this especially stood out to me…

By Amy Gahran

According to ComScore:

“While still in its infancy, mobile advertising will become an increasingly important component of the mobile landscape in 2011, as the convenience and nearly ubiquitous nature of mobile make this platform potentially extremely valuable for advertisers.

“Importantly, there will likely be an early industry focus on higher click-through rates on mobile ads—but this metric is somewhat of a red herring as curious consumers will be more likely to engage with new ad units in the early days of the mobile ad industry.

“It will be essential to understand the view-through impact and longer term brand-building that mobile ads can deliver. Brands must also remember that mobile media is not just an extension of PC-based Internet usage, but is itself a unique platform that by its nature will influence the how, what, where, why and when of consumers’ media consumption.”

Based on this, there are several ways news orgs can prepare to make mobile ads part of their business:

1. Learn about mobile ad units. This month the Mobile Marketing Association published its new mobile marketing guidelines. Download it and consider which of these ad units you might be able to offer.

2. Make sure you’re covering the low end of mobile tech adequately. Although most of the media business seems fixated on smartphones and tablets, that’s not where most of the potential eyeballs are—and in advertising, the number of eyeballs counts. According to ComScore, as of December 2010 the vast majority (73%) of all mobile phones in use in the US were still non-smart “feature” phones. Many (perhaps most) of these handsets have web browsers, and all of them support text messaging.

Buy a feature phone and check out your web site on it, so you can improve the experience for those users. Make sure that all links to your site will work for mobile users. Offer opt-in text alerts, and subscribe to text alerts from other media organizations via your feature phone. See how other companies are positioning ads in these contexts.

3. Make sure you count ALL of your mobile traffic. Talk to your web site administrator to see what kind of statistics you’re gathering about mobile traffic. Make sure it includes smartphones by platform, and also traffic from feature phones. Track clickthroughs from text alerts—to your site, and to your advertisers’ landing pages.

4. Don’t undercharge for mobile ads, especially on feature phones. As ComScore noted, while mobile ads are fairly new, clickthrough rates are likely to be higher. In fact, last April ReadWriteWeb noted research from Smaato which indicated that feature phone users “are far more likely to click on ads than those on most smartphone platforms, even though the user experience is likely to be far inferior to clicking on an ad on a smartphone.”

Therefore, price your initial mobile ad units aggressively—or at least optimistically. Don’t repeat the news industry mistake of the mid-1990s and assume that just because a medium is new that it’s less valuable (or somehow in competition with your existing offerings).

5. Educate and motivate your sale force. Prepare materials explaining the value of mobile advertising, including case studies from your audience. And give your ad sales reps strong incentives to start selling mobile ads. Don’t treat it as the poor stepchild to print and online ads.

The News Leadership 3.0 blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.


Very good information.. you have also posted statistics which is very easy to understand…
I am very much happy that I’ve learnt something new and good information…
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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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