Mobile_body.jpgBy Heather R. Johnson.


On busy sidewalks, in the grocery store, even at the gym, more and more people have their gaze fixed on a tiny, multifunctional screen. According to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ 2013 Internet trends report, people look at their phones up to 150 times a day.


At a time when nearly one third of web traffic comes from smartphones and tablets, small business owners must rethink their media strategy to take advantage of this rapidly growing market. A recent report from eMarketer shows that global mobile advertising will hit $101.37 billion in 2016—a 430 percent increase from 2013. 


Even small businesses with limited marketing budgets can incorporate mobile into their campaigns. “Look at other mediums you are using and carve out underperformers,” advises Julian Lewis, director of account management for Fiksu, a Boston-based mobile marketing agency. “A small business should understand how their users engage.”


Keep budget in mind, as well as the tips to follow, to maximize your mobile ad spend:


Native advertising gets results

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms use native ads—ads that match the form and function of the platform on which they appear—as well as publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Forbes. A study from software company Sharethrough and marketing agency IPG found that consumers viewed native ads 53 percent more often than display and banner ads. “The format resonates with users because it resembles content that they are used to consuming,” says Lewis.


Mobile_PQ.jpgQR codes may not

We see those funny quick response symbols everywhere, but do they work? One study showed that only 21 percent of American smartphone users have scanned a QR code. “A short URL that users can remember easily can be just as effective, if not more,” says Lewis. For example, users may be more likely to visit when they see it on a promotion than to scan a QR code.


Search engines and social media remain strong

Small businesses can target a highly specific audience through social media as well as find new markets. With a well-placed ad on a search engine, a business can get its name in front of local customers that are searching for its niche.


Don’t ignore display and video

BI Intelligence data shows display and video as the fastest-growing mobile ad formats, with a compound annual growth rate of 96 and 73 percent respectively. “For a service that is difficult to describe, a video spot that explains benefits to the consumer can be very effective,” says Lewis.


Network and experiment

Connect with fellow business owners to share ideas. Lewis also recommends that business owners test multiple channels and ways to buy mobile advertising. Investigate ad exchanges and demand-side providers, which can put online ads in front of a selected target audience via a bidding process.

Regardless of the path, Lewis recommends small business owners diligently research before launching a campaign. “Don’t spend on mobile just to spend on mobile,” he says. “You have to learn something from it.”

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