This Summer Could Be the Breakthrough in Mobile Advertising

Brands gear up

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With more smartphone users than ever, brands are preparing for what could be a break-through quarter in mobile advertising as consumers spend more time outdoors while constantly checking their iPhone or Samsung.

Mobile ad firm UberMedia aims to be a part of the mix, launching a new ad product called UberAds that targets app users based on their social media data and location.

“So if you follow Tom Cruise on Twitter and are near a theater, you could see an ad for movie tickets,” explained Bill Gross, UberMedia CEO.

NBCUniversal recently tested UberAds on UberMedia's mobile apps network for Cruise’s sci-fi flick Oblivion and garnered a 4 percent click-through rate (versus the industry average of below 1 percent).

Doug Neil, svp of digital marketing at NBCUniversal, said the Oblivion ads created 2 million mobile impressions while homing in on Cruise’s 3.9 million Twitter followers and other mobile app users. NBCU’s summer horror film, The Purge, during the coming weeks, will run UberAds, which pull data from Twitter for the interest-level ads as well as Pinterest and Instagram.

“We are able to zero in on people who have already talked about The Purge on Twitter,” Neil said. “We like that type of targeting capability.”

Live Nation and Expedia are among other brands that are spending on mobile with ad firm Amobee.

“We see long-weekend types of trips in the summer months,” said Elizabeth Dorrance, director of media and analytics at Expedia. “So people‚ while driving, are more likely to book hotels last minute on their phones.”

Del Monte is using mobile to sell more fruits and vegetables to picnickers and patio grillers. It has teamed with digital notebooks firm Springpad, which lets the brand offer outdoorsy foodie suggestions—think mango smoothies and veggie-dressed kabobs. In short, Del Monte’s notebook renders via Springpad and Facebook's mobile apps and is designed to help busy parents plan meals.

“Mobile is really big for us as we try to bridge the planning-to-purchase divide,” said Brian Ng, marketing director and lead for brand strategy and trademark development at Del Monte Foods. “Summer presents an unstructured environment, and mobile is very important.”

Researchers like eMarketer and Gartner report mobile ad spending data on an annual basis, not seasonally, so quantifying the ad outlay during the summer months is tricky. However, it’s reasonable to suspect that the more time people spend outside and away from their desktops and laptops, they rely more on their smartphones.

“The highest revenue days for us are always Saturdays, followed very closely by Friday and Sunday,” said Jim Payne, CEO of MoPub, a three-year-old mobile ad exchange. “When people are not chained up at the office and are out and about doing stuff, they use mobile.”

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.