Succeeding In Mobile Advertising: The Journey Begins

With all eyes on mobile, columnist Rob Rasko shares what he’s learned about mobile vs. desktop ad effectiveness and what works best for mobile advertising creative.


Our industry is on a journey. Digital media is growing up, and as mobile becomes the predominant way people consume content, marketers are learning the best ways to incorporate it into a broader offering.

Mobile’s ascent to market dominance has been one of our industry’s fastest shifts to date. According to eMarketer’s research, published in Direct Response Tactics Take Majority of US Marketers: “In 2014, mobile advertising spend versus desktop reached an all-time high of 41 percent of all US digital advertising spend.”

ComScore’s 2015 US Digital Future in Focus study found that “approximately 31 percent of all traffic to the top 10 digital properties was mobile-only visitation.”

These numbers continue to tell the story of how mobile is making the digital media pie larger as American users engage online on more occasions each day. Combined with cord-cutting and cord-nevering trends and the continued increase of video consumption, we’re rapidly transitioning into “A Mobile, Mobile, Mobile, Mobile World.”

Like most people, I’m still trying to shift my mind to mobile. Following the last Marketing Land article that I published on mobile advertising, I called upon my digital media colleagues to help me compare the current state of mobile versus desktop ad effectiveness by participating in a survey fielded by my team and me.

I wanted to learn more about what’s best for mobile advertising creativity: What works and what doesn’t? How effective is mobile versus desktop? How do the CPMs on mobile compare to those on traditional desktop display?

Here is what I learned.

Mobile Vs. Desktop Ad Effectiveness

Sixty percent of respondents to my survey said that their static mobile advertisement click-through rates (CTR) were higher than desktop click-through rates. This response did not surprise me, considering ComScore’s 2015 US Digital Future in Focus study found that “in 2014, Facebook saw mobile revenues surpass desktop revenues, signaling a shift towards mobile as the primary digital media platform.”

Marin Software’s Mobile Advertising Around the Globe: 2015 Annual Report noted that the average global click-through rate for search was 2.81 percent for smartphones, surpassing desktops with a CTR of 2.09 percent. CTR for social on smartphones also surpassed desktop rates, coming in at 0.60 percent above desktop social CTR at 0.42 percent.

Increasing media consumption combined with rising user engagement seems like a good reason for brands to continue to increase their investment in mobile ads.

Difference In CPMs On Mobile Vs. Traditional Desktop Display

Cost is another metric to use to compare mobile versus traditional desktop display. In their article, What Factors Affect Mobile CPM Prices?, eMarketer recently reported:

On the whole, cost-per-thousand (CPM) averages in 2014 were on par or above 2013 rates, despite the dramatic rise in impressions that occurred over the same time period. In an environment where supply outweighs demand, steady or higher CPM averages are an indication advertisers are finding greater value in mobile advertising.

As the number of mobile devices continues to grow, and larger brands allocate more of their ad budgets to mobile advertising, it’s evident that there’s not much slowing down mobile’s momentum.

Native ads on mobile also fared well, compared to desktop display: More than half of respondents to my survey saw an average CTR on native mobile ads that was higher than native desktop ads.

Making Sense Of Mobile

During my interviews for chapter one of a mobile white paper for my employer, The 614 Group, I spoke with Kate O’Loughlin, general manager of Tapad’s advertising business, who made some insightful points about giving marketers a unified view of consumers across all screens.

“Marketers are buying mobile, desktop, video and TV, but they aren’t marketing to the consumer as a holistic individual who happens to use multiple gadgets,” she told me.

She emphasized how looking at individual users in silos across devices creates its own set of analytical and attribution challenges.

The notion that marketers can maximize their digital media investments when they have a unified view of their customers is precisely the reason I decided to write this paper.

My hope is that the research my team and I have done will educate the market on how to maximize the mobile component of their digital investment while maintaining a holistic view of their overall digital marketing efforts.

I look forward to learning and sharing more on mobile and the evolution of digital media as our research unfolds. It’s sure to be an interesting journey.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

(Some images used under license from


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