So many mobile marketing options are available... But where does one start? Is SMS still relevant? Should you focus on mobile search? What about mobile banner ads and video?
To help marketers navigate the ever-changing mobile landscape, here's a checklist of five key smartphone channels to focus on for the rest of 2014.
1. Social Media on Mobile
If your brand isn't on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn by now, you are missing a huge opportunity. But there is no cookie-cutter use case for social media; every business is different, and the "rules" of marketing via social media are constantly changing.
This year, marketers need to keep in mind that organic reach across all social networks has decreased as the platforms push their advertising products. What does that mean for you? Over a year ago, if you had 5,000 Facebook fans and you posted a photo on your timeline, over half of your audience would see it. Now, you would be lucky if 10% of them do. Brands now have to turn to paid alternatives to increase user engagement.
For mobile specifically, Facebook offers an "App Install" ad unit, making it easy to promote you apps and increase your user base. Other social media platforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest, also have mobile ad products for their own sites.
2. Mobile Banner Ads
The mobile banner ad is another advertising format that has undergone some big changes since its inception. In its earliest days, the standard mobile banner was a 120x20; it then grew up to 320x50 on some phones. Now there is more than one type, including expandable, sliding, and adhesion mobile banner ads. Each format offers different opportunities for advertisers.
In-app interstitial ads have also become a popular choice for advertisers. This format is triggered by actions within an app and shows the user a half or full screen interstitial that supports rich media. The format offers much higher engagement than traditional banner ad counterpart. In June 2013, the IAB released a few other great options for mobile banners, including the filmstrip banner and full page flex banner; they allow for rich content and videos all within the banner.
Traditional mobile banner ads will give you the greatest reach, since over 300+ mobile ad networks support them. But the new banner ad formats also offer advertisers a plethora of options for distinctive needs.
3. Mobile Video
The installed base of high-end smartphones is now at over 50%, and the large screens and fast devices make watching video on the phone an enjoyable experience. Accordingly, the popularity of mobile video advertising has increased. Several formats are available, including pre-roll, interstitials, even long form video. This relatively new opportunity is great for brands that want to extend the reach of their TV spot.
Social media has also transformed the way brands create and share videos. Facebook and Twitter both allow videos to be played natively within their apps. Facebook has enabled "auto play"—your video plays automatically, without sound—on mobile devices. Third-party clients for Twitter also allow for automatic video play.
Facebook and Twitter are not the only social media options for video delivery. Vine and Instagram have made it easy to create and share mobile video, and cutting-edge brands have found creative ways to use them.
4. Mobile Native Ads
Mobile native ads have changed the way publishers monetize their mobile sites and apps. Advertisers love native, because it allows them to show their message without interrupting the user experience. The format gained popularity first on the desktop; now it's on mobile.
Social media platforms have already adopted this form of advertising: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all have native ad products. Now other publishers are joining the party. Tango, AOL, and the New York Times have announced native ad formats for their mobile apps and sites.
If you want to take advantage of native, make sure you understand the audience of the publisher first so that you can tailor your campaign to that audience and help ensure success.
5. Content Syndication
Creating great content is only half the battle. If no one ever sees your content, then all of that time and effort is wasted. In the past, you could use social media organically to build an audience. Twitter's average tweet life, however, is between 8-19 minutes, and Facebook and LinkedIn have changed their algorithm for organic posts. That means advertisers can no longer scale an organic readership, so they must pay the high CPCs that come with "promoted posts." Content syndication is an alternative.
Content syndication will get your content in front of large audiences for a fraction of the cost of social media promoted posts. Using services such as Gravity or Taboola will allow you to share your content on publisher sites on their network. Content syndication is a cheaper alternative to social media promoted posts, and you get more scale for the price.
To get the most out of content syndication, your site should be responsive, so that your content fits on the mobile screen properly. If users can read your content easily, they are more likely to share your content via social media or email. At TapSense we have made use of content syndication, and we have seen both our traffic and our social shares and content downloads increase dramatically.
This article is based on an excerpt from "A Complete Guide to Mobile Marketing for 2014, Third Edition."