programmatic mobile advertising
Even seasoned advertisers have had trouble transferring their desktop programmatic success to smartphones and tablets.

Though programmatic mobile is one of digital advertising’s fastest-growing categories, many brands and agencies are still struggling to get it right. Whether due to mobile’s unique creative environment or the targeting challenges it presents, even seasoned advertisers have had trouble transferring their desktop programmatic success to smartphones and tablets.

Fortunately, we’re here to help. Here’s a quick guide to the “SHOULD” and “SHOULDN’T” of programmatic mobile advertising.


1. SHOULD Use Cross-Device Targeting and Attribution:

cross device targeting
Cross-device targeting allows marketers retarget their audiences and set frequency caps.

Mobile empowers brands to reach their customers inside an intimate, interactive environment, but mobile audiences are nonetheless more likely to convert on desktop.

With cross-device targeting and attribution, performance marketers can retarget their audiences once they’ve switched to desktop, while ensuring that the mobile ads will get credit for moving the user closer to purchase. Cross-device targeting also allows you to set frequency caps so you don’t oversaturate consumers with too many ads across multiple devices.

2. SHOULD Use mobile-optimized creative assets: Mobile provides a completely different user experience from desktop devices, so it’s important that your creative assets are developed with mobile delivery in mind. For best results, use small-screen sizes like 300×50 and 320×50, as well as mobile-specific interstitial ad formats. Since video completion rates are relatively low on mobile, make sure to keep your video content short.

3. SHOULD Run in-app and mobile web campaigns: Programmatic mobile web and in-app advertising offer two very different environments, often with very different audiences. Maximize your scale and reach by utilizing both.

4. SHOULD Make sure you’re driving consumers to a mobile optimized site:If you’ve ever had to pinch and zoom to read something on your smartphone, you know just how annoying it is when companies try to serve their desktop websites to mobile users. Chances are that your customers feel the same way.

5. SHOULD Strategically utilize data providers and analytics partners like Adsquare and Factual:

data provider partners
Let’s working with partners to learn more about your audience.

It’s impossible for any one advertiser to have all the data they need. Working with partners can help you learn more about your audience, find new groups of likely customers and even figure out how many of the people who saw your mobile ads went on to make an in-store purchase.




1. SHOULDN’T Use the same KPIs that you use for other channels: Your programmatic mobile campaign goals need to reflect the fact that mobile performs differently from other channels. For instance, people rarely apply for credit cards on their mobile devices, and there’s no way to track in-app conversions.

Instead, consider metrics like Click Through Rate (CTR). Framing your programmatic mobile campaigns to drive in-store or digital traffic will likely be more fruitful than solely expecting mobile conversions.

2. SHOULDN’T Forget to take full advantage of mobile-specific signals like device make, model and phone carrier: These might sound like broad categories, but they could give your campaign an edge. As an example, a hotel brand could use device model targeting to serve ads for its luxury properties exclusively to owners of the latest smartphone model.

3. SHOULDN’T Expect mobile to be a “one-size-fits-all” solution for all your campaign goals:

Marketers shouldn’t expect mobile to be a “one-size-fits-all” solution for all your campaign goals


It’s crucial to tailor what you’re trying to achieve to the strengths of mobile devices. To this end, programmatic mobile is a particularly strong channel for direct response, branding and geo-targeting. You should also consider using it to synchronize your linear TV buy with a second-screen native video campaign.


4. SHOULDN’T Treat mobile web and mobile optimized-web the same: The mobile-optimized web offers a superior user experience and much higher engagement rates than the standard mobile web. It’s usually worth paying a higher price to reach consumers in this environment.

5. SHOULDN’T Forget about all of the touch points you can use to reach your audience: The mobile ecosystem contains countless social networks, gaming apps, news sites and streaming services you can use to find your target audience — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Craft a holistic programmatic mobile plan that engages your customers across their customer journey.

While a fully developed programmatic mobile strategy requires a little more nuance than one blogpost can provide, these tips should give you the building blocks for a successful small-screen media plan. And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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