Mobile advertising has long been seen the next big thing, a sector with huge potential but not quite the finished article. Taking into consideration the fact that the amount spent on mobile is already almost on a par with print advertising, or that it is forecast to overtake TV ad spend in the year 2016, and you begin to wonder just how much longer it will take us to collectively realise that it isn’t the next big thing – it has rapidly matured and is already there.
 
Here is why:
 
Handset technology
 
It is amazing to think how far mobiles have come in the last five years, driven partly by consumer desire for quicker and better technology but also by advertising. Bigger and higher resolution screens suit both fat thumbed consumers (ahem) and media space owners alike. Faster processors and greater access to higher speed connections mean one thing…
 
Video
 
Q: What is the second fastest growing advertising format after mobile?
A: Online video.
Good, effective online video ads are expensive, but then, so is good, effective TV advertising. Bigger brands (like say, Disney), who want to reach their target audience know that a combination of mobile, video and millennial friendly formats (like Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr) have the potential to be irresistible.
 
Facebook
 
Facebook is making mobile advertising work like no other media space owner. In fact it now makes 70% of its revenue from mobile (up from 11% in 2012). The social network/content facilitator/ad agency has created perhaps the biggest ever display advertising space in the world, measuring not so much performance and direct response (a la Google), but offering highly effective branding and impression advertising – much more like print and television ads. The crucial difference is that Facebook ads are display ads. They are there, primarily, to be seen (and not necessarily clicked) by a well selected audience, and Facebook have seamlessly integrated them into their mobile services.
 
Where next?
 
More data. As every phone comes with a heart rate monitor and is connected to every electrical device in your home – advertisers and media space owners are going to have a lot more data. We would expect that to be used to target ads more effectively.
 
Cheaper hardware and more aggressive product marketing. Over time, content (and the hardware it comes on) tends to get cheaper for the consumer so as to satisfy mass advertising needs. It has happened with newsbrands, TV and it will soon with mobile phones too. Cheaper for consumers and a more controlled advertising environment for media space owners. Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook all tried entering the market (with very mixed results) in the last couple of years and they did so to sell adverts, not phones.