Global mobile advertising is set to top 244.57 Billion dollars by 2022. In its relatively short life span, mobile advertising has gone from sloppy and intrusive pop-up ads to geo-targeted, video, gaming and even Augmented Reality mobile ads.

How people interact with their phone is a lot different from how they use their laptops or watch TV. It sounds like a basic concept to grasp but when mobile advertising first came along most advertisers just treated it as a smaller screen and not a whole new realm of advertising. Mobile advertising was just plain bad, and it’s little wonder ad blocker usage surged.

It’s only really in the last few years that advertising agencies and brands have upped their game. As consumers moved from browsing on their desktop and watching TV to using their mobiles and streaming movies directly on their cell phone screens, advertisers took the leap to a new age of advertising.

With the shift in consumer behavior, brands insisted that advertising agencies explore new solutions to capture impressions, clicks and items at the Checkout.

What Consumers (and agencies) have now come to realize is that Mobile is a unique digital experience, like no other, in history, which captures our movement, schedules, wants and needs; as personal as they come.

A whole different mobile ball game

One major differentiation factor with mobile advertising as opposed to traditional platforms, is that it allows advertisers to see your exact location. This means that they’re no longer second- guessing what users want, when they want it and how to target them. Recent improvements in data have allowed mobile operators to pinpoint locations, gather data and analyze where and what people were doing, at the same precise moment.

Big Data was last year’s most overused buzzwords. The irony being that very few industries were using Big Data to gain insights into what consumers want and improve sales. The problem with Big Data isn’t collecting and storing information, the problem is that so much data is gathered it’s difficult to make head or tail of it all. But mobile advertising was one of the industries where data was being processed into action.

The rise of native advertising is allowing mobile operators to finetune their approach to targeting consumers as they move along the customer journey path. Challenges remain to mobile targeting, chiefly understanding the context in which consumers are using their mobile phones in what Google calls “the moments that matter”. The power of native advertising lies in delivering content in the context of the user experience. Both marketers and publishers alike are catching on to the fact that native advertising gives consumers what they want and that means more engagement and more ROI.

“The big idea in mobile native advertising boils down to using small parts of user’s mobile data signals to provide calls to action that are delivered at just the right moment, in just the right context, to inspire an m-commerce transaction,” says Aurelie Guerrieri, a leading global catalyst in mobile advertising.

Beacon technology is one way that mobile advertisers are beginning to understand context. It’s helping retailers to connect offline and online behavior in an effort to create a “frictionless shopping experience”.

Beacon technology takes geolocation to the next level by pinning down exactly what the user is doing in the moment they are doing it and sending useful information to their mobile phones to enhance the shopping experience. And Beacon technology is set for huge growth in the future as more and more retailers are understanding the benefits.

“For retail marketers, beacons can give a brand an edge in a world where omnichannel shopping is becoming the norm and consumers expect to get what they want, when they want it,” writes Peter Lewis, Product Manager at Google.

Trends in mobile advertising

Beyond improved data and targeting users’ movements and interactions, a range of next generation technologies are disrupting the mobile advertising game.

One of the more content-centric moves that advertisers have made is from boring banner ads to targeted video ads. People are choosing to consume video and video is an ideal medium for mobile. Video is great for business and 83% of brands believe it provides an excellent ROI.

Mobile video advertising is prompting a wave of platforms and startups that are creating tailored made video content and distributing it to new consumers for brands and agencies. “Startups such as LoopMe are using programmatic advertising, intelligent targeting and a full range of mobile video ad formats to deliver data-driven video advertising,” writes Melanie Ring, a mobile advertising columnist for Business of Apps.

Mobile ads in gaming is another great example of how advertisers are pushing the benefits of content. By 2020, it’s expected that 63.7% of the population will be using their mobile devices to play games. It’s a huge and relatively untapped revenue stream and often has the biggest uptake with gamers being willing to interact with an ad for free swag.

Chatbots are also taking off in a big way for mobile. They allow consumers to get what they want in real-time and provide a deeper understanding of consumer needs for advertisers. The Chinese app WeChat is one Chatbot service for retailers that is taking off in a big way and is leading the way in engaging with consumers.

Perhaps the most cutting age and exciting technology being explored in mobile advertising is the use of VR and AR. The interactive advertising solutions are the “next big thing”. This highly immersive is being picked up on by more advertisers as consumers demand high quality ads that they actively want to engage in.

Driving down the cost of mobile conversions

Programmatic ad buying has driven down Cost Per Acquisition for mobile marketers. Another much hyped version of programmatic buying is Header bidding. Header bidding has become the fastest growing bidding game from last year. However, it comes with its critics who say that it could be a disaster waiting to happen for programmatic buying.

“Header bidding allows publishers to offer inventory on multiple exchanges rather than filtering demand through a single stream. Most DSPs are connected to most of the leading exchanges. If a DSP registers the same inventory from four different exchanges, it is going to bid the same price across all four, potentially increasing its price,” says Managing Director of Applift, Maor Sadra.

Consumer behavior is the driving force behind all the changes to mobile advertising. Smart marketers focus on how and what consumers want to interact with and then tailor their strategies and creative solutions to make them consumable. In the age of ad blockers, it’s time we all start doing the same.

And key to understanding what consumers are doing and what they want is Big Data. Hype aside, Big Data is what will allow marketers to deliver ads that people want. Industry analysts tends to focus on the huge amounts of Data that the likes of Facebook and Google have access to but very little attention is given to the vast amounts of data that mobile operators have at the fingertips. When it comes to Big Data, mobile operators have the keys to the car but they need to put into gear. By working with tech companies, mobile operators have the opportunity to leverage the data they already have, benefiting both advertisers and consumers alike.