Why Mobile Web Sites Are Critical Tools for Advertisers

Now Serving Mobile"Now Serving Mobile" is a column focused on the audience-buying opportunity in mobile advertising.

AdExchanger.com asked Michael Nevins, Senior Partner at Breakpoint Digital, a digital consultancy, to break down the mobile display advertising channel. This is the second in a series of columns devoted to mobile display and its parts.

In my last post, Mobile Display Advertising:  Not Just Tiny Banners, I made the point that mobile websites are a critical piece of a mobile marketing strategy for almost any brand.  For this post, I’ll expand on those points in hope of making an even more compelling argument as to why brands – even those without a "mobile strategy" -need to arm themselves with a mobile web site.

1)   Mobile internet will inevitably eclipse wired Web

There are many sources of data that predict the growth of mobile data use.  Some of my favorite recent predictions:

2)   Wired websites fail on mobile handsets

A disappointing user experience puts any brand at risk.  If you’re buying mobile media, driving mobile users to a wired site is ill-advised.  It also misses some of the opportunities offered by mobile.  Here are four reasons you should be concerned:

  • Wired websites typically do not display properly on mobile phones (this includes Iphone and Android phones).  Have you tried viewing your wired site on a mobile handset?
  • Most mobile phone browsers do not render Flash.  If you have Flash elements in your site navigation or elsewhere, your site will be broken on the vast majority of mobile devices.
  • Without a mobile-optimized site, you not only risk a sub-par user experience, but you also miss out on mobile-specific opportunities such as click-to-call a phone number and share with a friend via text.
  • A mobile site use-case is often very different than that of a wired site.  A mobile site can – and should – present content and features that are priorities for mobile users.  A simple example is putting address or store locator options up front.
  • Not sure if your audience is on mobile?  Analyze the traffic to your wired web domain.  Many marketers are very surprised to learn how much of their wired website traffic comes from mobile devices.  Every one of those visitors is getting a sub-par user experience when they do.

3)   As media buying becomes more automated, advertisers need to be ready for mobile

  • Brands are increasingly buying audiences through networks, demand side platforms and exchanges.  As these platforms mature, media planners buy impressions that span wired web and mobile.  In order to fully exploit this opportunity, brands should have a persistent mobile web presence or campaign-specific micro-sites.

4)   Mobile web provides a unique opportunity for customer insights and targeting

Mature mobile web technology platforms can glean quite a bit of useful information from a user’s handset.  Some of the items most useful to marketers include make and model of the phone and the mobile carrier.  When combined with targeted mobile buying, this can be quite powerful.

  • For example, a marketer of Bluetooth headsets for Blackberry devices can target Blackberry users on a certain mobile network.  A mobile landing page can be targeted to the specific handset model.
  • A marketer of mobile apps or games can target his mobile web buy to just the handsets that can support the app or game.
  • Don’t leave it up to an ad network.  Control your own mobile landing site and optimize conversions.

While their study emphasizes the growth of mobile web, my take on the dotMobi “Mobile Web Progress” study is that there is still much work to be done.  I think we might see even smaller percentages of mobile-friendly sites if campaign-based sites were factored in.  According to dotMobi:

  • 40.1 percent of the top 1000 websites within Alexa were mobile-friendly
  • 29.7 percent of the top 10,000 websites within Alexa were mobile-friendly
  • 19.3 percent of the top 500,000 websites within Alexa were mobile-friendly

There really is no good reason for a major brand to ignore their mobile audience. Simple mobile sites can be built and maintained for a very low price.  Site building platforms are now mature and user-friendly enough for any digital shop to jump in.

Not every brand needs to fully replicate their web experience on mobile, but campaign-length landing sites and permanent mobile user-centric utilities like store/product locators and “click to call” are a must.

Follow Breakpoint Digital (@bpdigital) and AdExchanger.com (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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