Mobile Marketing & Why it Matters

The Mobile Landscape

While the rest of the country focuses on the election results, I decided to write my blog on something different – mobile marketing.  Coming from a digital marketing background, mobile marketing or promotional activities through smartphones or other mobile devices like tablets has been top of mind for me for the past few years.  Since about 2010, there have been many predictions that mobile will be the “next big thing” or this year will be “the Year of Mobile,” yet most companies have remained hesitant about investing heavily into this medium until recently.   Moreover, many companies and marketers still view mobile as a sub-category of digital media and most do not customize customer experiences for mobile devices.  This is an interesting phenomenon, however, because of mobile’s staggering statistics and growth predictions.


Currently, over 2/3 of Americans own a smartphone.   A typical US Adult spends over 3 hours daily on mobile devices and that number is steadily increasing.  Additionally, more than half of all web searches are occurring through a mobile device and consumers are spending more time with mobile apps than television.  By the end of 2016, there will be 4.8 billion individuals worldwide that own a mobile phone and smartphones will be used by 46% of the global population.  Thus, it is no surprise that mobile advertising has continued to increase rapidly since its inception and is considered one of the fastest growing media channels in history.”  It is predicted to surpass desktop’s advertising spend this year and continue to have double-digit growth for the foreseeable future.


In terms of mobile advertising spending, in 2015 mobile display was the highest out of all categories at $14.67 billion; however, mobile search was not far behind at $12.85 billion. In the next three years, both are expected to increase at a similar rate, but mobile app spending is predicted to make up the majority of the display growth.  Major reasons for this are because in-app advertising gives brands a unique opportunity to use engaging ad formats like video and rich media to get in front of captive audiences. Additionally, it allows them to be where the customers are since consumers are spending an increasing amount of time on mobile apps.  Mobile web and search are also predicted to increase in the coming years, as well as the other category, but mobile messaging is expected to slowly decline.


Loyalty programs, apps, and social media also make up the mobile marketing landscape. These, in addition to advertising and websites, are important aspects of a consumer’s mobile journey.  Many companies have moved their traditional stamp loyalty program to mobile apps.  This change has increased customer convenience, but also allowed companies the ability to track and gather more information about customers who are using the app.  Moreover, it gives companies another channel to engage and interact with its customers.  However, it also increases customers’ expectations of the speed and level of attention they should be getting from brands.


Best Practices for Brands

So, with all of these different options, what should marketers do to create an effective mobile strategy? First, and most important, it is essential for them to fully integrate mobile into their marketing strategies and not just treat it as a sub-category.

Second, in our new data driven world, consumers crave personalization and customization. Currently, mobile experiences fall short of expectations. Brands need to improve these mobile experiences and serve consumers where they currently are – not where it is convenient for brands.  Marketers need to utilize storytelling through multiple mobile ad formats.  It is important to make sure a clear story is woven through each format.  Additionally, it is imperative that marketers not only embrace these, but they also develop creative assets and content specifically for each format.  For example, in-stream Facebook and Instagram ads should differ from display and video ads or streaming ads on Pandora.


Third, a brand’s mobile engagement and automation is essential for mobile integration success.  As consumers are using their phone as their primary device, it gives brands a great opportunity to capture consumers’ attention at the right moment.  Marketers need to take advantage of this opportunity by tailoring the context and personalization of their communications, giving the right consumers the right information exactly when they need it.  A few ways marketers can execute this tactic is by mobilizing coupons, instituting loyalty programs, allowing mobile pay in stores, and using beacons to observe how people navigate store. This customization will not only produce better return on investment, but also improve the overall consumer experience.


Fourth, mobile web and apps are distinctive and it is important for marketers to understand their differences and utilize them effectively.  Currently, consumers spend 78% of their mobile time in app and 22% in the web.[i]  While apps have many advantages like the ability to send push notifications and customize user experience, the mobile web has its benefits as well.  Most users search the web to find apps and modern technologies are helping to make the web browsing process faster and more streamlined.  Marketers should embrace apps for engagement and the web for acquisition.  Utilizing each differently will help brands capture the most value from each format.

Lastly, to fully integrate mobile into a brand’s marketing strategy, marketers must increase their mobile investment.  The ideal amount brands should be allocating to mobile ranges from 8% to 20%, with more strategic brands planning to invest about 20% of their budgets.[ii]  It is important to make sure mobile is positioned to help major business objectives, but its impact should also be measured across the broader marketing mix of TV, Radio, Print, Outdoor, etc.

 2016 Mobile And App Marketing Trends, T. Husson, Forrester, January 25, 2016




  1. Great post! I actually used to make ads for the company I interned at and I had to make these display ads (that were horizontal banners) for mobile and they were always a huge challenge because the screens are so tiny and you can only fit in about a sentence before everything gets blurry and awful, so I can definitely imagine it being a challenge to optimize display ads for mobile. I also like how you mentioned mobile rewards apps such as Starbucks, as that’s an app that I’ve used a lot and have found that I actually am more likely to give in and order something from Starbucks since I do have this rewards app and I know how easy it is to order and that I can get rewards towards free drinks if I do purchase.

  2. cattybradley · ·

    Great insights into the mobile marketing space! One thing you mentioned that I have noticed in recent years is the rise of loyalty programs in the mobile app form. Sweetgreen is one example that comes to mind because you earn rewards with every purchase plus you can pay in store using your app (which is nice being that some of their stores are now cashless operations). Additionally, you recommended that stores customize the user experience which I think is super important. Again I think this is showcased in Sweetgreen’s app. Users can save custom salads so they don’t have to always make the same changes to their order. Overall, I really liked your recommendations for best practices and I am excited to see how mobile marketing continues to grow and influence how users interact with stores.

  3. michaelahoff · ·

    Great blog. So many companies still seem to miss the point on mobile. Especially for the ever-key young demo, mobile is so much more than a part of digital strategy, it should really be the only, or at least main, digital strategy.

  4. Great, in depth post!

  5. Great post! I appreciated the in depth analysis you did here. You brought up some great points! So many companies are still missing out on the magic of mobile. The force behind mobile e-commerce and reward systems is massive. Today in class I am giving a presentation on Chinese E-Commerce and mobile E-Commerce is a major factor in the overall success of Chinese E-Commerce. Great post!

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