top of page

Media Planning & Buying For Mobile

2020 may not have been easy for everyone, but for mobile advertising, it wasn’t a bad year at all. According to the sell-side platform, PubMatic, the volume of viewer impressions on desktop computers fell during the coronavirus pandemic, but it remained steady for mobile devices. This increase in phone use - or rather, a decrease in desktop use - by consumers only accelerated the shift in media buying to mobile from desktop platforms.

Most marketers expect the advertising gurus to continue to look upon mobile favorably, even post-pandemic. So, if you’ve been hesitant to commit any of your budget to mobile advertising under the belief that optimizing campaigns for desktop achieves the same result, allow our media planning & buying experts to humbly set you on the right course.

Media Planning & Buying for Mobile

Many people believe that mobile advertising is the same thing as advertising on the web, but that ignores many of the nuances of mobile that make it such a distinct channel. One of the most important distinctions is the way users are tracked online. On desktop, users are usually tracked with the help of cookies, which we all know are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Mobile, on the other hand, uses a unique device ID in addition to cookies to identify and store user information. This is not only a more stable tracking method, but it allows advertisers to learn much more about a user.

Just as important as the mechanisms that allow you to successfully advertise in this environment are the mechanisms that allow you to efficiently plan campaigns and buy media, though.

Buying Methods & Programmatic Ad Tech

There are, of course, many aspects of mobile advertising that are very similar to advertising elsewhere on the web. The mechanics of media buying is one such area. To do it right, a manual approach to mobile media buying is almost always a foolhardy idea. There are just too many data points and metrics that need to be considered to ensure the impressions you receive are high quality and appropriate for your brand.

A programmatic-based approach will enhance results by helping the buyer to measure relevancy, better understand an ad’s context and continually optimise campaigns. Mobile programmatic ad tech allows media planning & buying professionals to automatically buy and sell ad inventory. This ecosystem replaces more traditional methods such as the request for proposal (RFP) process, in-person negotiation or the insertion order (I/O) system, and it’s much more efficient and affordable.

Through the bidding process, you’re able to find the best possible price for inventory at any given time, maximizing the value of each ad dollar spent. You can target your intended audience across a variety of publishers using a variety of different methods. Geotargeting, for example, is a popular buying method for mobile in which you serve ads only to users in a certain area. Using this method, you can buy ads programmatically across as many publishers possible.

Ad Units & Sizing

The primary ad units for mobile advertising are very similar to those for desktop. You’ve got your graphic banner ads and your in-text link ads. (Note: for simplicity’s sake, mobile paid search ads and in-app advertising are being excluded.)

Text link ads are in-text advertising that turns individual phrases into links. Oftentimes, you see these links embedded into the text of articles on blogs and other publisher sites. They are an excellent way to ensure you’re targeting the right audience by placing your brand in relation to relevant information. If the goal is clicks rather than impressions for your ads, text link ads are the best option for seeing ROI.

Graphical display ads are placed throughout a webpage in designated locations. Banner ads, for instance, are always served at the top of a webpage and take up the full width of a screen, but they may also appear alongside content. The nice thing about running these ads on mobile is that they take up a larger percentage of the screen compared to their desktop counterparts. They are a great option when you’re trying to build your brand and generate brand awareness. Even if people don’t click on them, you can still measure the number of impressions as a win.

In order to ensure that the best graphical ads are served for an enjoyable viewing experience by users, there are four different ad sizes recommended so they can be easily optimized for different phone screens. However, two sizes seem to dominate in the ad game.

The most popular size, the mobile leaderboard (320x50 pixels) accounts for 52.16% of all display impressions delivered via mobile advertising, according to a study by AdTech Insider. The medium rectangle size (300x250 pixels) accounts for 34.37% of mobile impressions. Together, mobile leaderboard and medium rectangle ads make up more than 80% of the total revenue from mobile, accounting for 48.64% and 41.19% respectively.

The ad size with the best clickthrough rate (CTR) is actually one of the less common sizes, though. According to AdTech Insider, the 336×280 ad unit typically has a better CTR than the mobile leaderboard and medium rectangle, but because it’s a little too large, most mobile sites avoid it lest it disrupt user experience. Thus, it receives only about 3% of mobile impressions.

Cost of Mobile Ads

Programmatic technology has helped tremendously to shrink the overhead costs of mobile media planning & buying. This has helped mobile advertising to become an affordable option for many smaller advertisers and larger brands alike.

Mobile text link ads are usually sold on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis, meaning you only pay for the ad when someone actually clicks on it, while graphic ads are generally sold on a cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) basis. Depending on the industry, the audience, the organization you buy from and other factors, mobile ad CPMs range from about $10-$50.

One nice thing about mobile ads compared to their desktop cousins is that all mobile banner ads are priced the same regardless of size. When you buy for desktop, bigger banners will cost you more money, but since mobile sizes differ so much, the ad that is the best fit will be the one dynamically served to a user.

Your Mobile Media Stewards

For 2020, eMarketer expects mobile to account for 68% of all digital ad spend, which is actually slightly lower than their pre-pandemic forecast of 68.3%. It has certainly proven to be a durable advertising channel, and media buyers serving across a range of industries are taking notice. If you’re ready to make your ad dollars mobile, contact the media planning & buying experts at The Ward Group.

bottom of page