The Promise Behind Mobile Ads

Companies' transition to the mobile world seem to dominate news around their product announcements and earnings.  Will that new messaging platform make the more mobile friendly?  Is their design optimized to show people information (and ads) on mobile?  How does the cost of an ad compare between the desktop version of the site and mobile?  These are just a few of the questions that trail Facebook, Twitter, Google, and many others as they chart their path of dominance.

One reason for these questions is the rapid growth in smart phones.  58% of Americans have a smartphone and it is very quickly becoming the primary way they interact with important online services.  However, while the goal of being in front of your audience is a key driver of mobile adoption, so is the extreme targeting allowed by these ads.  Below is a personal example that drove this point home to me.

Wholefoods Facebook Offer

On July 4th, I went to Whole Foods to gather some party supplies for people coming over to celebrate and watch some fireworks.  I did not check-in using any service, however, that didn't mean my phone didn't know where I was with its GPS system.  While still in the store, I got a Push alert to my phone and email to my inbox, advertising $10 off $50 spent at the store.  Alas, I didn't claim the deal, because I didn't check my phone while shopping.

Catching someone in the moment or at least mindset has long been the goal of advertisers and mobile is letting them do that like never before.  Imagine walking by a lunch restaurant and getting a Push alert that you can get free fries with a burger -- that would convince me to buy there.  We're still in the early stages of this transition, but it's going to progress rapidly.

Also, as consumers, it's important to understand that these type of ads coming directly into our life are the price we pay for all of these free services and for giving up personal information.  Some may find that creepy, and it certainly can be.  Advertisers will have to walk a thin line of not getting too personal, but I'm all for more Whole Foods savings when I'm in the store.