Francis Bea

Mobile poses an unusual obstacle that advertisers have been trying to navigate but many are clueless about mobile. The issue is that ads displayed on mobile devices are visually different from how they’re represented on web pages and the user engagement is affected by style of the ads on different platforms. There is however one clear consensus that panelists speaking at ad:tech reached - advertisers need to build ads first for mobile devices.

The “mobile first” mentality is beginning to take shape and appears even to be the solution for advertisers. The strategy parallels today’s trend with emerging startups and the reason that Twitter has found its stride earlier than its competitor, Facebook. Due to reluctance and a lack of understanding, brands have been developing ads first for the web and then scaling the ads down to size when fitting them to mobile devices. Of course this doesn’t mean that advertisers will have to create different ads for every single screen size. It’s just that advertisers need to keep in mind that advertisers should be creating ads for mobile screens and blowing up the size of the ad when using it for the web.

But before this trend takes root in all advertising campaigns, it’s evident that first advertisers need to realize that mobile devices are just as frequently used today as desktops. Unfortunately, as Maarten Albarda, former VP of Consumer Connections, Global at Anheuser-Busch InBev, presented at ad:tech, advertisers are struggling with advertising on mobile. The mobile advertising spend will reach $2.6 billion by the end of 2012 but that’s less than 2 percent of total ad spending. He would agree that advertisers just don’t understand mobile advertising.

He revealed that 47 percent of advertisers are “dissatisfied” with mobile marketing and its processes. 37 percent of marketers are evaluating the effectiveness of mobile marketing and most alarming of all is that only 14 percent of advertisers are “happy” with the results from mobile advertising. But advertisers are thinking of this all wrong since they’re measuring traffic as the key performance indicators.

But in fact, consumers are using mobile as a “starting point” for online activities, although this does result in advertisers paying less for ad spots on mobile devices. For example, 25 percent of mobile users will browse for products on their devices and make the purchase on their desktop computer. In retrospect since mobile is a “starting point,” it’s difficult to figure out what KPI to use to track the ad’s performance because you can’t be sure that a consumer has made an offline purchase after viewing an ad.

Despite the fears that advertisers have when wading into the murky waters of mobile advertising, what’s clear is that advertisers have to think long and hard about their mobile strategies to keep up with the pace of users consuming content on mobile devices.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest digital marketing and technology conferences and expositions. Check out for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech New York event coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.