How Does Mobile Advertising Work?

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Tom has mobile customers. He needs mobile ads to reach those customers. Buy mobile ads, Tom! In this lesson, we take a closer look at how an why mobile advertising works.

On the Phone

We spend a lot of time on our mobile devices. In fact, statistics show that mobile device users broke an important barrier in November 2016: we now spend more time on our mobile devices hunting for information, making purchases, reading, and engaging with others than we do on traditional computers.

The increased use of mobile devices makes it a necessary advertising avenue for savvy marketers.
mobile advertising, tablet, smartphone

It only makes sense that advertisers, trying to win the attention and loyalty of consumers, would turn their attention to mobile platforms. But how exactly does mobile advertising work, and what is it?

What is Mobile Advertising?

Broadly, mobile advertising is a way for marketers to reach consumers on mobile devices with information about their products or services. That text you got from a department store? Mobile advertising. An ad you saw while reading the news? Mobile advertising. What about that new product you spotted while playing your favorite mobile game? Yep, you guessed it: mobile advertising.

Mobile advertising incorporates a variety of strategies including:

  • Text messages: Sometimes called SMS (or Short Message Service) messaging, these are ads received through the text message function of a smartphone. They can be text or image-based.
  • Banner ads: You're used to seeing ads on websites on your laptop computer, but these embedded images advertising different brands also show up on mobile websites.
  • Ads in mobile applications or games: Smartphone applications are those programs you download from an app store. They range from tools that make you more productive to ones that entertain you, like games or shopping apps.

How Does Mobile Advertising Work?

Here's how mobile advertising works, specifically. Tom is the chief marketing officer for a new brand of organic baby food. He wants to reach new parents with his company's message. Specifically, he is looking to advertise on mobile devices to reach families on the go. How will he proceed?

First, he needs to determine the best places to reach his target audience. That might be a popular parenting website or a mobile app for new parents. Next, he needs to buy advertising space in one of these venues. By purchasing ad space, Tom is paying to place his ad on that webpage or inside of a mobile app. Tom will need to design an eye-catching ad that works in the space he's purchased: on a website that might be a banner ad, or in a gaming app incorporating the organic baby food into the game play. Once Tom's ad is up and running, he can use multiple analytics tools to track the effectiveness of his campaign.

This type of mobile advertising works for a few specific reasons:

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