By Tien Nguyen
23. Dezember 2021

Media explained - Part 1: Mobile

Media explained - Part 1: Mobile

In our new series, "media explained," we will take a close look at the most important media channels, drawing on our expertise and insights from our partners.

For each media, we will look into the usage trends, advertising advantages and constraints, specific ad formats available and measurement approaches for different channels. We will answer all these questions and more.

Let's start with mobile advertising.


It would be no hyperbole to say that mobile phones are one of the most important technological breakthroughs in human history. Survey results show that people would rather eat less than give up their mobile phones, or they might not go back to pick up the wallet they accidentally left at home but they would definitely return to pick up their phone. In 2014, the US Supreme Court passed a law establishing that a mobile phone is an essential part of an individual, an extension of their personality. And yet, it is just the beginning of the mobile device revolution, bringing multiple benefits for society. For example, E-commerce is raising the standard of living for millions of people in India, and residents of remote villages in Mexico are receiving professional medical treatment through simple add-ons. 

How is mobile developing?

Over the last six months, 79% of smartphone users completed a purchase with their mobile devices. More and more companies are opting for the mobile-first approach to their digital strategy in order to increase engagement and ROAS, and businesses are increasingly focusing on mobile marketing due to the growing number of mobile users and more active mobile web usage in general. Let’s take a look at a few more statistics:

  • According to Statista, mobile internet traffic represents 56,89% share of global total online traffic
  • There were 6,3 billion of mobile users on the planet in 2021, with 26,3% using iOS vs 73,7% using Android (Statista 2021)
  • As per eMarketer, the average US adult spent 3 hours and 43 minutes daily on their mobile devices in 2020
  • In the first quarter of 2021, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 54.8% of global website traffic (Statista)

There’s a reason why mobile is the preferred channel for digital ad spend in the US, and while the list of advantages is extensive, we picked a few key points that set the channel apart most significantly. 

What are the advantages of mobile advertising?

Consumers are increasingly relying on their mobile devices to support them in their daily life, be it communication, entertainment, or work. Unlike traditional advertising mediums such as newspapers, magazines, or television, mobile advertising gives marketers the opportunity to target users anytime, anywhere, and in a real-time context.

Mobile enables real-time scenarios

The majority of people carry their mobile phones with them everywhere they go, which allows an advertisement to reach them anywhere at any time. More than half of Americans are reported to spend five to six hours a day on mobile devices, which means the advertising can be tailored to the time and circumstances.

Personalized targeting

The granularity of data provided enables marketers to gain a deep understanding of usage patterns. In any mobile OS except iOS 14.5, the in-app SDK can provide extremely precise data on the frequency, time, and place as well as the length of app usage on each individual device. It supports better clustering of users for “mass-personalization” and leads to higher ROI efficiency, and there is an opportunity to follow up with users who have not opened an app for a while and targeting them with items related to their in-app purchases or past usage habits.

Extremely measurable

One of the key advantages of mobile advertising is that it is very easy to measure. In Android, every clicked advertisement can be tracked down (and it is an opt-in functionality for iOS users) and that empowers advertisers to make smart decisions about where to advertise. It also means they can create a great user experience for their current or potential audience. 

What are the constraints of mobile advertising?


There are always some constraints to take into account, regardless of the platform or channel that you choose to advertise with. People are exposed to an incredible amount of advertising every day, and mobile advertising is no exception.

Inventory limitation 

Another difficulty that mobile marketers run into is the serious competition. Because access to ad inventory is easy to get for any brand, competing to have your ad displayed can become very expensive. By measuring the results of campaigns that you run, you can work out how to best allocate your budgets.

Limited in-app measurement 

One of the main challenges that mobile marketers faced this year was the rollout of iOS 14.5 and the introduction of the AppTrackingTransparency framework. What this means for advertisers on iOS is that any user who opens their app has to “opt-in” to tracking. If they don’t give consent, their IDFA (the unique device identifier used for tracking) cannot be used.

"While opt-in rates are higher than expected, particularly in verticals like hyper-casual gaming where we’re seeing numbers up to 70%+ for cross-promoted users, or e-commerce where 17% is much stronger than early predictions of 5%, it’s meant that user acquisition (UA) teams have needed to revisit their entire strategies as they learn to work with SKAdNetwork and conversion values. It’s still possible to create excellent advertising for non-opted-in iOS users, the approach through which it's done is just very different, and Adjust supports clients at every stage of their SKAdNetwork journey."

Tiahn Wetzer

What types of campaigns are running on mobile?

There are three main types of campaigns that are run on mobile: acquisition campaigns to acquire new users, monetization campaigns to generate revenue and push for subscriptions, and engagement/re-engagement campaigns to either increase the amount of time users are spending in-app or bring them back more often. To serve each of these campaigns, it’s essential to identify the right ad formats for the particular needs of your app and the individual purpose of each campaign. Each ad format has its own unique benefits.

What formats are specific to mobile advertising?

To maximize the efficiency of mobile advertising, make sure your content is as brief as possible, personalized, and targeted to specific user groups and segments. Depending on the type of app that the user is engaging with, as well as what they are doing specifically within that app, there are many formats that can be used to make the advertisement as effective as possible. For example, when someone plays a hyper casual game, it might be better to cross-promote another game from the same developer to them by using a pop-up or in-game advertisement. If the user is on a social media app, a native advertisement can make the most impact, or if it is an e-commerce app, gamification works incredibly efficient.

  • Banner ads: Inherited from desktop marketing, banner advertisements display an embedded image and text with the key purpose of generating clicks. Less intrusive, they can be ignored but they do help raise top of mind brand awareness among those who already recognize the brand. The formats for banner ads are small: 320×480, 300×250 and 320×50 pixels for smartphones.
  • Native ads: Native advertisements adapt to the environment where they are displayed while still preserving a common look and feel. This ensures a less intrusive user experience - and that’s essentially what makes native ads so popular: in 2020, they made up 63% of the total mobile display ad spend.
  • Interstitial ads: Similar to banner ads in terms of the concept, interstitial ads are full-screen videos or images. They usually generate a higher click-through rate (CTR) versus traditional banner ads, which can be largely attributed to their size. These ads are successful because of the straightforward experience offered to the user. You either click on the ad’s call-to-action (CTA), or you exit and continue using the app.
  • Video ads: Video is becoming more and more prominent and important every quarter. For instance, the rise of social commerce was largely attributed to the effectiveness of short-form videos. Mobile video has proved to have a 2x better CTR than native, and a 3x better CTR than banner and interstitial ads. These ads are usually full screen 15 to 30-second videos.
  • Rewarded video ads: This type of video advertisement works by offering the user something in return for viewing the ad (in game currency, lives etc.), which increases the publisher’s advertisement revenue and gives the user incentives to view videos. A recent study showed that 77% of users are willing to watch a 30-second video in exchange for discounts from a retailer.
  • Playable ads: This is another extremely effective ad format. An eMarketer study found that agency professionals in the US determined playable ads to be the most effective in-app format. Functioning as a “try before you buy” style offer, playables give users a chance to access interactive gameplay before choosing whether or not to install. Once their limited time is up, they receive a CTA to install with a link to the app store page.

How is mobile advertising measured?

Mobile campaigns offer the same metrics as other digital campaigns: typical options include click through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), cost per thousand impression (CPM), return on ad spend (ROAS), conversion rate (CR), retention rate, and customer lifetime value (LTV).

Mobile attribution is essentially the science of matching two data points, such as attributing ad spend to user engagement or installs based on certain variables. Put simply, attribution identifies whether a user installs an app after seeing an ad, and keeps track of how they behave post-install. And these two things are the key to success in measuring the total performance of advertising campaigns run on mobile. It allows marketers to discover where their users are coming from. Some installs might come from video ads displayed in-app, others from campaigns run on social media. Attribution tools record and reveal this information, and then hand it back to the marketer in an objective and easy-to-understand format.

4 tips for mobile advertising:

  1. Cut the stutter - it’s really important not to advertise too much. If you’re using a push notification strategy for example, sending multiple notifications throughout the day, this could easily lead to user fatigue or simply annoy the user — which wouldn’t be ideal for branding. It’s best to advertise at the right moment and with perfect creatives. Again, it’s performance metrics that will help you find out where your audiences are and how to best reach them.
  2. Price model - While this is very simple, it’s been shown consistently that banner ads are effective and even outperform native ads when looking at metrics like post-install engagement. One of the restrictions of this format is “banner blindness”: users are exposed to so many banner ads throughout the day that they simply don’t notice them anymore. We recommend implementing banner ads based on the cost per click (CPC) model to counter this potential downfall.
  3. Appropriate CTA - In almost all cases, there is a five second waiting time before a user gets the option to close the ad – those first few seconds are vital and that’s where the key message of your creative needs to land. For the best results, a clear CTA is essential, as is ensuring that the full-screen ad is presented at the most opportune moments within a user journey. Pick the key points of contact, and target audiences carefully.
  4. KPI per vertical - The importance you place on each KPI will differ significantly depending on your vertical and on the purpose of a given campaign. In hyper casual gaming, for example, driving high volumes of users to a game with the lowest CPC is essential, whereas an e-commerce app might focus on LTV, and a health and fitness app might be looking for subscriptions. Campaigns can be assessed in terms of how successful they are in achieving these KPIs and at what cost.


Mobile device usage will only continue to grow as more people rely on them. It’s crucial for brands to understand how and when their customers are using smartphones in order to develop matching advertising and marketing campaigns. The speed and relevance of marketing and advertising campaigns will be greatly impacted as smartphone data collection and analysis technologies become increasingly sophisticated. Therefore, consumers must be reached with relevant messages at the right time through appropriate mobile channels.

How MMT could help you
To plan, manage and buy advertising campaigns - mobile included - more effectively, advertisers could use MMT Mercury, our end-to-end media management platform. MMT Scout provides clients with smart dashboards tailored to their individual needs so that they can see how their mobile campaigns perform and optimize them on the run. Our ready-to-use products and specially crafted services enable direct cost savings and lay a strong foundation for your company’s digital transformation by allowing you to address your needs in a future-driven manner. Book a free demo to learn more!


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