Mobile In-App Advertising. What is it, how does it work?

As a digital advertising platform, “mobile,” also commonly known as “mobile in-app” or “mobile geofencing,” is one of the fastest growing solutions around. The term “mobile in-app” refers to ads that are served specifically through smartphone devices.

Companies are pouring more of their advertising budget into mobile because people spend more time with their smart-phone than with any other device, possession or even other people. With the kind of face-time mobile devices get, it makes perfect sense that companies of all sizes are investing in mobile ads. As a digital ad agency, mobile advertising is a big part of our business. We execute mobile campaigns for clients from a wide range of verticals, from car dealerships to restaurants. Mobile is included in most of our plans, and we are often asked about how it works and how to use it. Below are answers to commonly-asked questions.

  • What kind of creative is used for mobile? Mobile banner ads are most typically 320 x 50 and 300 x 250 in size. There are other options available, including screen-takeovers and, of course, video.

  • Where are mobile ads served? Mobile banners are served either on mobile websites, through browsers such as Safari or Chrome or in applications.

  • How are mobile ads purchased? There are a variety of exchanges that offer mobile inventory and can be purchased programmatically. Advertisers can purchase ad space directly from publishers. The most common way agencies and media buyers purchase mobile space is through a Demand Side Platform (DSP).

  • How can I target mobile ads? You can target ads by geofencing locations or by audience segments. Geofencing is a popular targeting tactic based on the consumer’s physical location. The term “mobile geofencing” simply refers to how ads target people on mobile devices. Geofencing is a very hyper-focused strategy you can use to target your ads to a relevant audience. Geofencing goes beyond the standard of geo-targeting, which is usually done on a DMA, city or zip code level and gives advertisers the ability to target down to a radius around a building. Typically, geofences are set to a mile-or-so radius around a specific location. You can adjust this radius depending on how populated the area is for delivery scale.

  • How can our clients use geofencing? Our client identifies locations of interest (say competitor locations or areas where their target audience frequents). Then we geofence those locations to serve ads to people who are visiting that location in real-time. Additionally, you can retarget consumers based on locations they’ve visited within a given number of days. For example, if a local car dealer wants to target prospective car buyers in their market, geofencing competitive car dealers is a perfect way to reach prospective car buyers in real-time, since people who visit car dealerships are likely in the market to buy a car. Retargeting people who have visited a car dealership lot in the last 5-7 days is a great way to re-engage prospective car buyers.

  • How do you target using audience segments? These ads are geographically targeted according to Designated Market Area (DMA). You can build consumer profiles by compiling locations a device frequents. So, for example, if a device is seen over and over again visiting local restaurant’s between the hours of 8 p.m -1 a.m., that device ID would be classified as a “late-night diner.” It would make sense for anyone looking to reach late-night diners with their message (Uber/Lyft, other restaurants open at that hour, etc.) to target that device. There are dozens of pre-qualified audience segments available for targeting and the list is always growing.

  • Where should I link these ads? Whether you link these ads to a landing page or a website, make sure it’s optimized for mobile devices or you are just lighting your money on fire. If your website is not mobile-friendly, make it so immediately. According to the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of U.S. adults own smartphones. Those people are visiting your website on their device. If your website is not mobile-friendly, they will certainly write you off. I recommend designing a landing page specifically for the banner ad. The viewer’s destination should match that offer and theme of your banner ad. The days of sending people through to your website homepage are gone (and have been for a while). If a consumer sees a banner ad for your lunch special featuring your world-famous egg salad sandwich, then when they click on the banner, the landing page should prominently feature your world-famous egg salad sandwich, along with directions to your restaurant so they can get their hands on the sandwich, a click-to-call button so they can order ahead, reviews from your customers about how good the egg salad sandwich is and possibly a video of you making the sandwich and happy customers eating it. Your destination URL needs to be about whatever content your ad features — otherwise you’ll just end up disappointing the consumer and they’ll bounce off your website.

Above are the basics of a mobile ad campaign. Remember, like any ad campaign, you need to know your audience — where they go and where they’ve been. Create a compelling ad that clearly communicates your offer, link those ads to a landing page that explains your offer in more detail, and give the user the ability to take action on that offer.