What Is Mobile Advertising? [All You Need To Know]

Nero Peña
Nero Peña

Updated · Feb 07, 2023


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Wondering how you can reach your target market? 

Here’s an idea – mobile phone advertising.

Did you know that there are now 3.8 billion smartphone users worldwide? 

Clearly, now’s the best time to do advertising on mobile devices! In fact, 75% of clients prefer to receive SMS offers.

But what is mobile advertising, anyway? 

Read on, we’ll show you all there is to know. 

What Is Mobile Advertising?

First of all, what is an advertisement?

It’s the magic of getting people to notice your product or service.

Mobile advertising is one of the most popular techniques in digital marketing. It simply focuses on advertisements designed for mobile gadgets - smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices.

A mobile ad can be displayed as:

  • SMS or MMS offer 
  • Phone notifications
  • Website banners or headers 
  • Mobile app advertisements

And many more.

How Mobile Advertising Works?

There’s more to mobile digital advertising than meets the eye.

That clothing ad that popped up on your screen? It wasn’t placed there out of anywhere.

Brands generate these phone advertisements based on several digital marketing practices. That includes social media marketing, email marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), etc. 

These techniques help ad networks identify the proper demographics.

But wait – what’s an ad network?

It’s an entity that connects publishers and advertisers. 

Let’s say you want to run an ad for your new clothing line. You’re gonna need a dedicated network to buy media from a publisher. This is called an ad inventory, which refers to the spot you’ll use for your mobile ad campaign.

Once you’ve secured your mobile media from a publisher, you can start producing your ads.

What about targeting? 

Ad networks can do that for you, too.

They use behavioral targeting to reach the right market.  They utilize user data to display ads based on browsing history, purchases, etc. In other words, online habits become the basis of tailored advertisements. This increases the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Besides this, also offer other mobile advertising services like tracking, reporting, and analyzing your campaigns.

Now you’re probably wondering: 

How do advertisers pay for these ads?

Mobile Advertising Business Models

Okay, so we just covered how advertising works on mobile. Let’s move on to the different payment schemes involved in the process.

I’ll introduce you to several business models:

  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) - As the name suggests, a payment is made when a user clicks on a single ad. PPC is typically used for campaigns involving paid search ads, such as search engine marketing. Others call this payment model Cost per Click (CPC), too. 
  • Cost per Impression (CPI) - Payment is made every time a user views an ad.
  • Cost per Action (CPA) - You get paid when a customer takes a specific action,  like signing up for a website.
  • Cost per Mille (CPM) - In this setup, an advertiser pays for every 1,000 ad views. Publishers often go for this payment scheme. Why? It’s the one that pays the most ad revenue. It is best for phone advertisement campaigns that aim to increase brand awareness.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR) - Marketers pay based on the number of clicks on a particular link, per number of impressions.
  • Install Rate (IR): Advertisers pay based on the number of users who installed an app or program. 

So, that’s basically how to advertise on mobile apps and devices.

Now, we’ll show you the different ad formats you can use for your campaigns.

Types of Mobile Advertising

Whether to boost their branding, generate leads, or get more sales, digital marketers rely on good mobile advertising.

This comes in many formats, fit for a particular use case.

Here are the different types of mobile advertising:

In-app Advertisements 

As the name hints, these are ads displayed within a mobile app.

It can be a small banner announcing a sale, or a full autoplay video of a mobile game advertisement. These campaigns heavily employ marketing methods such as data tracking and user targeting.

In-app advertising is a massive venture that allows monetization for mobile publishers. Did you know that in 2020, app revenue stats recorded a whopping $581.9 billion in earnings? 

Advertisers can rely on it as a proven way to reach prospective customers through the apps they use. In a world where everyone opens at least two apps every day, it’s hard for a mobile app advertisement to go unnoticed.

Banner Advertisements

Mobile banner ads are the oldest of the bunch, but still a goodie. Also called display advertising, it’s widely used in websites and apps because they’re simple, cheap, easy to pull off. 

These ads can either be static images or animated visuals. When users click on one, they get instantly redirected to the advertiser’s page or app. In-app destinations usually lead to the App Store or Google Play store.

Mobile Video Advertising

Fact – 79% of people would rather watch a video than read about a product. 

It’s way more engaging than those long-ass product descriptions that drive away clients!

That’s why video advertising is one of the most sought-after techniques in mobile ad production. They’re also the most expensive, though.

Videos play either automatically or by customer request, on affiliated apps or websites. Reward Ads are great examples, wherein a user gets a reward for watching a non-skippable video.

Push Notifications

These are alerts that show up on your mobile device. When you install an app, you can allow it to send pop-up notifications at any time – ads included. Users don’t have to use the app to get them. You receive them like text messages. Only installed apps can send them to you, however.

Gamified Ads

What is gamified mobile advertising?

It lets users interact with ads like a game, making them highly engaging.

From quick problem-solving videos to treasure hunts, this option works wonders for marketing apps. It’s also a good way to generate user data and profiles for future campaigns.

Native Advertising

Native ads look pretty similar to banner ads, but they are more subtle. They aren’t conveyed directly as advertisements, as they don’t appear “overlayed” or “embedded” on the screen. Instead, they blend in with the app or site’s main interface. 

In this case, they are less likely to be victims of ad blocking.

Facebook features a lot of native mobile app advertisement examples. They appear as you scroll through your screen, joining the mix of content on the news feed.

SMS Ad Campaigns 

Advertisers often use SMS marketing software offered by a mobile advertising company. 


Because they want their ads to have a massive reach. Text messaging is part of everyone’s daily life, so placing SMS and MMS ads in personal inboxes can be effective. They’re supported by network carriers. 

From discount coupons to event announcements, text ads are very common these days.

Some programs even have targeting and campaign automation tools you can use to fast-track the process.

Although cell phone ad messages have massive potential, those that are poorly designed lead to negative results. Plus, keep in mind that users must first opt-in before you can send them SMS ads.


These are the types of mobile ads you can use for your campaigns.

Now, is it worth investing your ad budget in these techniques?

The Benefits of Mobile Advertising

There’s a reason why businesses have a strong demand for mobile digital advertising.

In the US alone, companies allocate 11.2% of their marketing budget for mobile marketing efforts.

Why is that?

Let’s take a look.

Wide Reach

We mentioned that there are billions of mobile device users worldwide, right?

Besides that, mobile advertising is able to reach a massive audience because of accessibility. People use their mobile devices almost all the time. Unlike TV, radio, and other traditional media, mobile ads can reach users anytime, anywhere. 

Better geotargeting 

Speaking of accessibility, advertising on mobile apps also makes it easier to target consumers based on location. Laptops, PCs, and other traditional media don’t allow location marketing as much as mobile devices do. 


Here’s another fact – the average internet user checks their phone 58 times daily. So, it’s safe to say that prospective clients stay glued to their phones for time-sensitive notifications. They could be waiting for alerts on special events, offers, and other ads on mobile. 


A smartphone advertisement is much cheaper than a radio or television ad. You can be reaching twice – even thrice – as much of your target audience too, for a fraction of the price.

Compared to desktop advertisements, mobile ads are also more cost-effective. PPCs on smartphones cost about 24% less compared to desktop clicks. Mobile app ads also have a 40% higher click-through rate than desktop ones.

Mobile Advertising vs Mobile Marketing


What’s the difference between mobile advertising and mobile marketing?

Mobile marketing is a more general concept. It uses several methods and datasets to execute its practices. For example, it uses location services to tailor a cell phone advertisement. In this case, users will only be able to view an ad if they’re within a geo-marked area.

On the other hand, what is mobile advertising?

It simply refers to the process of running ads on mobile devices. Through dedicated networks, marketers can purchase mobile media from publishers so they can place ads on their platforms. They focus on programmatic bidding process. So, marketers can optimize campaigns using several key performance indicators (KPIs). These come in the form of business models like pay-per-click (PPC), cost per impression (CPI), etc.

So, are these two concepts the same?

Definitely not, but they are in line with each other.

Mobile marketing is an umbrella term, and mobile advertising is just one aspect of it.

Wrap Up

Everyone's hooked on their mobile devices these days.

That explains why mobile phone advertising is on the rise.

Text offers, video promos, and app advertisements now lead the marketing revolution.

The best time to jump on the bandwagon is today.


What is mobile app advertising?

It refers to any form of advertising displayed on mobile apps. It can be a video, banner, or pop-up promoting a product or service. When you click on mobile app ads, you get redirected to the marketer’s dedicated page or app.

Why is mobile advertising important?

According to advertising stats, the US alone has an annual digital advertising expenditure of over $33 billion. This, along with the fact that there are billions of mobile phone users worldwide, explains why advertising is important in this medium. Traditional ad platforms such as television and radio have a limited reach compared to mobile digital advertising. In addition, prospective consumers also spend more internet time on their smartphones than they do on computers.

What is mobile marketing and advertising?

Mobile marketing is the general term, and mobile advertising is its subset. The former uses more complex methods, such as location services. This is the key to designing ads that are based on geolocation, consumer habits, and user preferences. Now, what is mobile advertising? It’s the actual process of running ads on mobile devices. Marketers use ad networks to purchase ad spaces from publishers. Here, various business models are used to determine how ads are paid. Some examples are Pay-per-Click (PPC), Cost per Action (CPA), Cost per Impression (CPI), and more.


Nero Peña

Nero Peña

Nero is an all-around wordsmith with a degree in Communication Arts— not the vicious emperor you might know in history books. He's an avid reader. A frisky writer. A tech enthusiast and occasional binge-watcher. He likes long walks on the beach. Enjoys deep thinking and shallow conversations. Hates ketchup. Panic! At The Disco.

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