Mobile & Apps

Mobile Advertising: Say, Does That Smartphone Make Phone Calls?

The Weather Channel's mobile ad for their new series "Life Guard"

If you’re like me, you’re attached to your smartphone just about 24 hours a day. So it probably comes as no surprise that many marketers view mobile advertising as an exciting opportunity to reach new customers. Data from the IDC shows that $630 million was spent on mobile display advertising in 2011 – a small number compared to the nearly $300 billion spent on advertising overall, but an impressive figure given the market is still only a few years old. Plus mobile display advertising is just one piece of the puzzle – there’s also mobile search, SMS, MMS, mobile games, location-based services, QR codes, and many other avenues for generating mobile leads.

Part of the driving force behind the growth in mobile advertising is that it is extremely easy for users to engage with a business from a smartphone, especially when the desired action is a phone call. Shocking, right? I mean, it is a phone after all.

But it’s more that that. Your phone knows your precise geographic location. You can search the Internet by asking it a question (literally). You can trigger a phone call with the swipe of a finger. It all adds up to an effective way to capture and track new leads. So what does this mean for marketers? Is mobile another place we should consider adding to our marketing plans? A recent article in CNN Money mentions a few success stories from companies that have incorporated mobile into their advertising mix:

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  • 1-800-Flowers says its customers were two or three times more likely to click to make a phone call from a handset than to click on an ad on a desktop computer.
  • Since starting to use mobile ads in June Comcast says it has seen 270% greater click-through rates on mobile than desktop devices and mobile ads now drive over 10% of the company’s online sales.
  • Esurance claims mobile click-to-call has resulted in a 25% increase in efficacy of its marketing campaign.

Those are impressive stats by some big names. And it’s not just large enterprises that are finding mobile to be a viable channel — SMBs are also warming to the idea of using mobile to drive new leads. A recent survey of SMB marketers by Borrell Associates found 48% of respondents “likely” or “somewhat likely” to incorporate mobile elements into their advertising efforts this year. So how do you get started?

A good place to begin is by taking a look at the mobile advertising guidelines published by the Mobile Marketing Association. They do a nice job covering the overall landscape and describing current standards. It may help you determine which types of mobile ads are right for your business. If you’re interested in mobile paid search advertising, this article in Search Engine Land is a nice primer. And no matter what approach you take, make sure you have the tools in place to track your results and hone your strategy.

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