What is mobile marketing, and why brands need a strong mobile strategy


Mobile is the new first screen

Smartphone users have their devices with them at all times, making mobile the only marketing channel with potential for 24/7 receptivity. More importantly, as multiple device connectivity becomes our daily reality, audiences are now using and consuming data from multiple screens at any given time. Meaning marketers could complement digital and TV marketing channels with mobile; if your customers are on multiple screens, you should be too. But what is mobile marketing, and what does marketing on a mobile device entail?

Mobile marketing can encompass any means of communicating a brand message via a mobile device, either with in-app and mobile web adverts, push notifications, SMS campaigns, app monetization strategies, social channels…while digital advertising is limited to side panel ad space or at best native ads, mobile as a platform enables much more room for marketing creativity. Whether a brand is entirely mobile first, such as app developers and publishers, or just getting started with mobile in its overall marketing strategy,

The mobile advertising breakdown

Beginning with SMS campaigns in the dawn of time pre-smartphones, mobile marketers realized that a audience is quick to categorize mobile advertisements as spam. As a result, the Mobile Marketing Association and IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) have put in place strict regulations for mobile marketing campaigns. These restrictions both protected consumers, and enabled marketing messages to be more effective, by stipulating all messages can only be received by users who have opted in, thus ensuring they are bringing value by reaching this self-admittedly receptive audience.

Let’s break down the mobile advertising ecosystem to its 3 major components: the demand side, the supply side, and the ad exchange process between that drives mobile advertising.


The Demand side ( marketers seeking to promote their product via mobile ad campaigns) passes through the auction-based ad network in order to obtain ad space (inventory) from other app publishers who are selling their ad space.

A mobile ad network connects various mobile advertisers to quality supplies of mobile ad space both within mobile websites and apps that want to incorporate ads in their monetization strategy (publishers). A mobile DSP (Demand Side Platform) serves to navigate and automate the exchange process to acquire ad space at the lowest price directly from publishers with available inventory. On the other side, mobile SSP (Supply Side Platforms) work for publishers to facilitate the auction of ad inventory within the ad exchange marketplace. Why the need for DSP and SSP partners to navigate the ad exchange system? Mobile ad campaigns run on an ad exchange network conducted via real-time bidding (RTB), an auction based system in which advertisers acquire mobile ad space. Mobile RTB means ad impressions are purchased and sold in the time it takes to switch screens in an app or load a web page, every millisecond makes a huge difference in impression quality. In-house app marketers typically do not have the resources, knowledge, or data insight to properly monitor ad acquisitions in such an overpopulated marketplace. These partners have developed technology that aggregates mobile data points to generate automated insight, indicating what ad traffic is most effective at reaching a targeted audience.



DMPs (Data Management Platforms) serve as a database to house the millions of datapoints of user and publisher information. But how to best obtain insights and apply such large amounts of data?

Programmatic technology allows the automation of the RTB acquisition process. As in traditional advertising, not all ad space is created equally, so how to ensure your message is displayed in strategic ad spaces, placed before users with high receptivity potential? Ad networks increase mobile campaign quality by machine learning algorithms to ensure that the ad space obtained in RTB media buying processes is coherent with defined mobile target audiences. By creating targeted mobile audiences, programmatic insights guide advertisers to optimize media buys and ad creatives to ensure strategic messaging is placed before receptive users on all their favorite devices.

Ad campaign attribution

As each mobile ad campaign is set up, strict targeting parameters are defined based on data points such as geographical location, performance metrics (CPI or CPA), and daily spending caps. Once each specific campaign has been established, an attribution link is associated to the campaign. This unique attribution link allows app marketers and the DSP partners to track the source of the click, and provide valuable campaign insights such as when and where the specific ad click took place, with what creative, and via what kind of ad space inventory.

Mobile feedback loop

For a brand looking to reach a specific target audience, mobile is a must. As mobile campaigns progress and drive conversions, whether they be an app install, coupon redemption, or account registration, the information generated based on these ad impressions constantly serve to further optimize campaigns and increase scale. This feedback loop provides clear measurable KPIs, making mobile one of the channels with the most easily measurable ROI.

For those that need to visualize, Luma Partners and others create annual mobile landscapes like this one, though it’s incredibly difficult to keep up with such a fast-moving industry filled with so many specialized players.