Mobile Advertising: From Print to Web to Smartphone?

A new AdAge article says “Mobile Advertising Is Still Failing”. And they’re right.

45% of Americans now have a smartphone and they are now spending more time on those smartphones than they are any other form of media. The largest brands in the world, and the cutting-edge agencies that represent them, are desperately trying to reach these masses. So why can’t anyone figure it out?


Adam Kleinberg, CEO of Traction, says the “reason for this is not overly cautious marketers, however. It’s because the mobile platform simply isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

He’s right. The smartphone has not turned out to be a natural extension of every other platform that came before it breaking a trend that’s been serving us well for decades: Selling blocks of ad space worked in print so we put them on webpages. Commercials worked on tv, so we found ways to serve them on websites. Now we have mobile and we want desperately to be able to serve slight variations of same basic ad units on smartphones— but that strategy is failing miserably.

“Mobile advertising vendors will roll out jaw-dropping presentations showing amazing “app-like experiences” replete with digital awesomeness. Auto brands, you can take a virtual test-drive to an astonishing new level, they promise.

But it’s completely meaningless when the fulcrum point between big data and big experience is a 120×20 pixel banner ad vying to interrupt your game of Paper Toss.” – Adam Kleinberg, AdAdage, Don’t Let Growth Fool You: Mobile Advertising Is Still Failing

It’s not all bad news though. There are a lot of examples of advertisers and publishers innovating themselves out of this conundrum. Kleinberg names Facebook and Foursquare as two publishers who are achieving remarkable results by abandoning the traditional display ad model and offering additional value to their users through non-disruptive advertising.


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