Mobile advertising essential, but poorly done, say experts

by David Needle

November 2 2012

Mobile ads can be disruptive, but not always in a good way.
Mobile ads can be disruptive, but not always in a good way.

As growing numbers of people move to mobile devices as their primary computers, mobile advertising becomes increasingly important to the success of mobile websites and some mobile apps. But experts say mobile advertising is far from as refined or effective as it needs to be.

A good exhibit A of the importance of mobile advertising is the fact that Facebook’s struggling stock jumped over 10% on news that it earned 14% of its third-quarter revenue from mobile ads, up from almost nothing in the first quarter.

But, asks Bloomberg Businessweek, if mobile has such potential, why are the ads so mediocre? 

“Most mobile advertising is done as an afterthought,” says Eric Picard, CEO of Rare Crowds, an ad technology company. “Immature designers have just sort of slapped banner ads in there.”

When most users encounter a mobile ad it’s disruptive, but not in the positive way that business gurus breathlessly use the word,’ notes Businessweek.

“When I see an ad pop up on my phone, I get scared,” says Al Rotches, a Web ad designer who has worked on Internet campaigns for Barack Obama, Honda Motor, and Trojan Brand Condoms. “When I’m on my phone, this is my thing,” he adds. “I don’t want to be tracked, I don’t want to be interrupted.”

Facebook is especially keen to capture more mobile advertising because over 60% of its users access the service via a smartphone or tablet. It chalks up its recent growth in mobile ads to “native advertising” that’s integrated with a site’s regular content.

Web rival Google has been developing enhanced ad services like click-to-call buttons, which allow people to contact an advertiser directly about an offer using the phone in their hand.

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