The Year of Mobile Ads

CTIA: The year of mobile ads

Amid all the questions being tossed around prior to the upcoming CTIA Wireless conference, one that Andy Miller, CEO of Quattro Wireless, hopes not to hear is, “Will this be the year of mobile advertising?” It’s annoying, he says, partly because last year the answer was most likely no. This year, it’s a different story.

“The biggest [mobile marketing] trend is that a lot of us have a business this year,” Miller said. “Since the last CTIA, there has been dramatic growth in impressions -- available inventory. There’s a lot of folks on the mobile Web right now and in applications, like the iPhone and soon to be many more with Palm Pre, and all those new data plans out there with Sprint and Boost offering flat-rate data plans -- it has just led to an explosion in inventory.”

Quattro Wireless, which this week raised another $10 million in funding, saw its impressions grow 30 times from January to December 2008, with approximately 1000 new brand and direct response advertiser campaigns running across the network. The Quattro network now boasts 25 million unique monthly visitors. Quattro isn’t the only company benefiting from the mobile-ad movement either. With the recent explosion of application stores has come a subsequent explosion in mobile ads, said Mark Donovan, senior analyst with comScore. Sponsorships and various forms of advertising have become a common element of apps as a way to monetize free games and services.

Mobile is still a relatively new market for advertisers to tackle, so it’s understandable that it’s growing faster than its more established counterparts like print, the PC and TV, but the growth nonetheless is impressive. Advertisers are now also starting to get more creative with the ads they are using, moving beyond just the typical text advertisements or banner ads. Donovan noted that many are actually integrating ads into Flash to create interactive experiences or embed, and often disguise, the app with a mobile game to create “adver-games.”

Advertising’s mobile experimentation is good for everyone involved. It gives advertisers a targeted, always-connected audience. It gives consumers potentially relevant, helpful ads or coupons, and it drives revenue for app developers and operators faced with consumers who are reluctant to fork offer monthly subscription fees. If 2008 was the year advertisers got their feet wet with mobile, 2009 should be the year they delve deeper into the platform, with targeting, interactivity and creative advertisements that don’t clog up the cell phone’s relatively small screen.

So, you don’t even have to ask. It should go without saying that this year is, in fact, THE year for mobile advertising.

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