The use of mobile devices has exploded in recent history.

That means that while there are literally billions of people using mobile phones and other devices to access the internet, marketers have not had very much time to finetune their strategies for reaching those users.

Marketers have to adapt their messages to the way mobile users access content, including their reading behaviors and the limitations of the medium. Marketers also have to find ways to overcome software that blocks ads and other marketing messages.

By conducting research and focus groups, marketers can find ways to reach this growing audience segment. Fortunately, many groups are already doing this research, so marketers need only remain aware of the latest research.

Here’s what a new mobile marketing report from Nielsen tells us:

Mobile Ad Campaigns are Getting Better

The Nielsen research found that marketers are getting better at reaching audiences with their mobile ad campaigns.

Specifically, the research looked at the number of impressions marketers were getting with their target audience, known as the on-target percentage. In the first quarter of this year, the number of ads viewed by the target audience was 60 percent of the total impressions. That’s up from 49 percent during the same period the previous year.

Last year, Nielsen found that the total on-target percentage for ads in all digital formats – not just mobile – was 61 percent. This year, it’s looking like that number is going to close out at 59 percent.

The mobile numbers have quickly jumped to reach the same level as the overall digital numbers. That shows that marketers have become much savvier about their mobile campaigns, figuring out techniques that get them the same level of success as their other campaigns.

Specific Groups

Nielsen also broke down its numbers by specific groups to better understand if any particular campaigns have been more successful than others.

The research found that campaigns aimed at people ages 18 to 34 or ages 25 to 44 were more successful on mobile than on desktop. In contract, ads targeted to people ages 18 to 49 were more successful on desktop.

Even though the two age groups in mobile cover the same ages in the desktop group, the fact is that the campaigns were segmented for those particular audiences, rather than appealing generally to the wide range of audiences in the bigger group. The increased targeting helps make the campaigns more successful.

Nielsen found that broader campaigns were more successful at reaching men, while campaigns with better targeting were more successful at reaching women.

Mobile was also a better medium for reaching women, while desktop was the better choice for reaching men.

Nielsen also found that marketers were more successful running their ads through individual publishers rather than through an ad network. The research did not break down the success of these ads by mobile or desktop.

Adapting Ad Campaigns

In order to get the kind of success with your ads as seen in the Nielsen research, you need to understand how mobile users behave online.

Typically, mobile users are looking for information when they are on the go. They are either reading an article on the train commute into work, or they are looking for a restaurant recommendation or local movie times, for example.

Your ads should be crafted to appeal to that desire to find answers fast, whether it’s a solution to a problem or an appeal to an emotion that encourages an impulse buy.

Ads with video and images have also been shown to engage users better, but it is important that you optimize those videos and images to load quickly and look great on a mobile screen. Large graphics will slow down load times, and they will require the user to scroll from side to side to see everything.

CodeFuel’s own research has also shown that ads need to have a timely and relevant offer in order to engage users. That means having a limited promotion like a discount code that can only be used within the next 24 hours. Or it means offering a sale on a movie that has just been nominated for an Oscar or that has just been remade.

Compelling ads that include emotional appeals, strong claims, and promises also attract more attention and get more engagement.

Many of the strategies you use for all your ads will be effective with mobile users, but you will have to make some tweaks to see results. Many of the changes have to do with how information appears on a mobile screen, but some have to do with the behavior of mobile users once they get online.

Explore our research and other mobile research to get more insights that will help you create mobile ad campaigns that will get results. You’ll soon see your on-target percentages exceeding those in the Nielsen research.