Beginner’s guide to Mobile Advertising Networks

One huge marketing channel for mobile is that of advertising networks. Many operate similarly to online advertising networks, but as this is mobile, there are certain nuances that marketeers need to acknowledge. All the networks below feature support for WAP, feature phone and smart phone handsets.

When deciding on which network to choose to advertise with, marketing departments need to acquire the relevant knowledge and information in order to maximise presence as well as return on investment. Before jumping straight in, there are three main facts you need to know:

  • No advertising network is currently dominant
    As with all channels within mobile, this is a disintegrated market.
  • Which advertising network is biggest is unknown
    Reading current market share or revenue of networks is mis-leading; they are usually based on relative guesswork. Bear in mind too that size isn’t always the best – choosing a network most relevant to your marketing strategy is much more suited.
  • Not all advertising networks are the same
    Choose networks that suit your marketing needs, target market, geography and marketing budget.

Mobile advertising networks can be primarily be split into three categories:

  • ‘Blind’ networks (normally operate on a CPC basis);
  • Premium ‘blind’ networks;
  • Premium publishers (normally operate on a CPM basis);

Below we go into more detail about each category of advertising network.

‘Blind’ networks

This category covers the widest range and number of publishers, advertisers and impressions available. Through this, you should expect high volumes of advertising presence on independent mobile sites and applications.

With regards to targeting, there are plenty of options to filter by country, content channels (news, lifestyle, gaming, sport for example) but don’t enable advertisers to choose individual websites to advertise on. The cheapest available method is to use RON (‘run of network’ – i.e. no targeting at all).

As mentioned, this category of mobile advertising network is normally based on performance or cost per click (CPC) – allowing marketers to gain an instant response through banners, straight to website to download, register or call. Understandably, CPC does vary with supply and demand – normally determined through a ‘self-service’ auction system on the network. As well as CPC, some networks do offer cost per thousand impressions (CPM) models, meaning you only pay for every 1,000 visit/download on through the network. This model is ideal if marketers want to ramp up branding exposure – possibly to increase awareness of a product or brand.

Publishers on the network normally receive a revenue share of 55% – 65% of what the advertiser pays.

Examples of ‘Blind’ networks:

  • Adfonic
  • Admob
  • Admoda/Adultmoda
  • BuzzCity
  • Inmobi
  • Mojiva

Premium ‘Blind’ networks

This category of mobile advertising network tend to be more medium in size, with a higher level of premium publishers (well known websites offering big traffic, such as newspapers, broadcasters or operator portals). With this, usage of this type of network is normally to encourage brand awareness – normally paid for on a CPM basis.

Much of the advertising will still be on ‘blind’ publishers, or ‘semi-blind’ (targeted at a particular channel). For a premium price, there are opportunities to buy a place on a specific spot on a website of your choice – however be warned, prices can be extremely high.

As with ‘blind’ networks, performance based CPC is available, as well as cost per acquisition (CPA) models on some networks – the client only pays when a visitor clicks through and buys, downloads, signs up etc.

Overall, advertisers should expect a mix of ‘self-service’ as with ‘blind’ networks, as well as direct sales and support with the network themselves – with lots of targeting options available to filter and target specifically.

Examples of Premium ‘Blind’ networks:

  • Millennial Media
  • Greystripe
  • Madhouse
  • Jumptap

Premium publishers

This category of  mobile advertising network focuses on premium, prominent sites – such as mobile operators and popular mobile destinations. Such sites as Nokia and AOL offer specific inventory internally.

As with most Premium networks, the main business model is CPM – with the majority of advertisers undertaking branding strategies. Be aware that most Premium networks attract the biggest brands who are more than willing to spend large amounts of money to advertise in order to secure prime locations on mobile sites and portals – with prices ranging from £5 – £75 for CPM.

With this, as an advertiser you should expect more direct sales and support, rather than ‘self-service’ offered with the ‘blind’ networks. Targeting is a huge part of using Premium networks, as most top sites and portals hold a lot of targeting options to use as part of a targeted marketing strategy. Deals are normally negotiated on a deal-by-deal basis.

Examples of Premium networks:

  • Hands
  • Microsoft Mobile Advertising
  • Nokia Interactive Advertising
  • YOC Group

Do you know of any other mobile advertising networks that aren’t mentioned in this post but should be highlighted? Let me know – in the meantime I hope this helps introduce the world of mobile advertising.

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