Key Differences Between Mobile & Online Display Advertising


Mobile display is in many ways similar to traditional PC-based internet advertising. Advertisers can leverage traditional display best practices to help build a successful mobile display campaign. However, running an exact replica of your current traditional display campaign will not work, because mobile has some key differences from traditional PC-based display.

The Major Differences Between Online and Mobile Display Ads

Screen Size

Screen size is a big difference between mobile and PC. Creative specs for mobile can be different from that of traditional display; mobile requires smaller versions such as 120×20 and 168×28. The size of a file is also very important. Some files must be less than 2KB. Text taglines may also differ (up to 24 characters for extra large images and 10 characters for the smaller sizes).

Click Through Rate

CTRs for mobile are generally between 2 – 5% while traditional methods are now less than 1%.

Number of Standards

There are more standards for traditional display such as IAB’s role, while the mobile environment has limited standards through the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), making it harder to implement one strategy across all devices.

Opt-Out Rates

Mobile devices do allow you to opt out of certain content however the options are more limited than those in traditional media.  Being able to opt out of risky content is essential to ensuring brand integrity.

Response Time

A banner ad on a mobile device  could result in a faster response than the delays we see in traditional media because it is consistently on. This would apply particularly to local efforts, such as coupons driving foot traffic.

Interactivity Across Initiatives

Mobile advertising allows for a lot more interactivity with offline initiatives such as print media and billboards through QR codes.

Targeting & Attribution

Attribution is a challenge with mobile campaigns because most networks do not allow you to supply them with adserver tagging. This hinders an attribution model that requires viewing data to track the full path to conversion. Mobile cannot drop a cookie. Some networks can tap into a unique “thumbprint” that is available on each mobile device, but this is not the norm.  This limits behavioral targeting on mobile devices, while behavioral and retargeting on traditional networks is currently the top method.

Method of Purchase

A large percent of mobile display ads can be purchased on a cost-per-click basis while most traditional networks still use the cost-per-impression method.

Integrating mobile marketing into other campaigns, rather than treating it as a stand-alone platform, can prove highly effective for traditional advertisers. With the explosive adoption of smartphones and tablets, mobile display advertising is not something you can ignore, and in fact if it is implemented effectively it can offer great rewards.


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