Costly Mobile Advertising Habits to Break in 2017

 Monty Wyne

Mobile advertising was shaped by traditional and digital media. Best practices for desktop ads played a big role. However, as media consumption shifts to mobile and engagement remains elusive, it’s time to examine these best practices.

Ad Formats

Traditional media made ad formats common practice, where it was easily determined by channel. This became more entrenched as digital formats evolved. With the higher level of complexity and higher CPMs, ad format became a defining construct for campaigns.

The format-first approach worked quite well at first, because there was a laptop or desktop user on the other end. This increased the likelihood a consumer would engage with advertising. Why not shape a campaign around it?

Unfortunately, that approach fails in mobile. Today’s consumer is on the go and you might catch your target standing in line at the grocery store or kicking back at home. They might find a 360-degree product tour or short video disruptive.

That’s why mobile advertising has to be more fluid with formats. Build format-flexible campaigns, which increase engagement. Not only does this contribute to your consumer experience, it’s more cost effective.


Next question? How can an advertiser determine which ad works best with a given mobile experience? The answer, of course, is targeting. Despite its strengths, however, ad targeting can’t handle the nuances of mobile behavior. Targeting criteria doesn’t make it easy to react to a consumer that’s anywhere in the world performing tasks in what might be a quick mobile session.

Location targeting has been an effective innovation. If you know a consumer is at home or at work, it provides valuable context. But more data in the targeting equation isn’t enough; you need to use smarter data. The data should identify patterns in behavior, like what ad format best serves a given moment, or the impact weather might have on performance.


There’s been enough debate as to whether or not click-through rate is an effective measure of success. A better question is whether too much reliance is placed on these metrics when evaluating.

The greatest value of a campaign may not be the click-through rate on an ad but the insight it gives you on mobile behavior. What can be concluded about the mobile experience as relates to campaign performance? Or ad receptivity? Then, how is that applied to future campaigns?

Mobile is a channel in flux. It will continue to be so as more variables, like IoT, and virtual and augmented realities build relevance. The industry needs to constantly check best practices to ensure they aren’t getting in the way of better practices.

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(This article is an excerpt from “Ad Age,” Jan. 9, 2017 edition,