What mobile needs to do to have a great 2013

You might describe the last twelve months as being the end of the beginning of mobile marketing. In 2011 brands were testing mobile, with ad spend in the tens of thousands, this year has seen individual brand spend move to the hundreds of thousands. But with mobile representing just seven per cent of digital spend in H1 2012, we don’t yet feel that it has become a mainstream advertising choice. We expect 2013 to see continued strong investment in mobile display and other channels, but there is still some way to go before mobile reaches its potential.

From the marketer’s point of view, mobile must become easy, integrated, transparent and effective. So here are a few thoughts on the big challenges the mobile sector needs to address in 2013.


Establishing a mobile strategy has become a focus for many brands and this will be a key challenge in 2013 to which marketers, agencies and mobile platforms will all contribute.

Most marketers are trying to integrate strategies across all channels and the potential for mobile display advertising is huge, as more media becomes screen-based and more consumption happens on the move across many different types of device whether that’s smartphones, tablets, mini-tablets, netbooks, ultrabooks etc.

The arrival of 4G is also a milestone and while up-take of 4G in 2013 is likely to be relatively small, long-term it will have a big impact on mobile ad investment, because the mobile web will become faster and consumers will become more comfortable with mobile browsing. At the same time it will remove restrictions on using more engaging rich media ads, making functionality less of an issue.

But the major barrier to doing this is tracking and measurement, which is a problem across the industry.

Removing barriers to investment

Measurement is a huge challenge as at the moment most consumer mobile activity is in app and this audience is not trackable by cookies. And whilst the consumer continues to use apps, advertisers and marketers will continue to use this platform.

New measurement systems that can track audience browsing are still being produced. So by and large, I’d expect the issue of tracking to be cracked in 2013, which will make mobile campaigns far more measurable and therefore more attractive.


Every medium has benefitted when vendors and agencies have agreed a standard set of formats for advertising. Mobile will be no different. So a key challenge for the digital industry in 2013, should be to at least begin a dialogue on developing standard rules and sizes for mobile display, so brands and agencies know instantly what the options are.

Cope with the speed of change

It took decades for TV to move from being one channel to three and then 20-plus. It’s taken a decade for online display to become established as a primary medium; mobile has gone from zero to significant ad spend in the space of a year or two. We’ve experienced it first-hand.

So for brands, mobile platforms and agencies a key challenge has to be remaining focused as the sector expands and diversifies at high speed.

Getting to grips with Mobile RTB

Real Time Bidding (RTB) has made a big impact on online display and is bound to play a big role in the mobile space. But at the moment RTB is valuable because it hones in on audience behaviour; so until we can crack targeting on mobiles and tracking, RTB isn’t going to influence the market.

When RTB is implemented it will drive down the price of the bad advertising i.e. the small banners at the bottom of a page and it will drive up the price of valuable advertising.

Make mobile easier to understand

Everyone offering brands mobile advertising solutions should make a New Year’s resolution. Demystification of mobile advertising is not just good manners but good business too; the sector is awash with competing technologies and jargon, if the proposition becomes more accessible to decision makers who come from a broader marketing or media background, they’re more likely to get it and invest in mobile.

Richard Sharp Managing Director, GreyStripe UK

  • Pavitra Kumar

    Great post, Richard. I really see mobile real-time bidding going places in 2013. It gives advertisers what they want most – the right audience. Audiences will only act on ad relevance, so the draw for advertisers on a platform which we’re all spending increasing time on and where targeting is getting ever more intelligent, is huge.

    As ever, advertisers need to follow best practice and make it as simple for the target user as possible to engage with their content, remembering that the attention span for mobile is that much shorter. We looked at trends worldwide for mobile and the differences between mobile clicks and conversions on tablet and smartphone. People appear happier to research by smartphone and convert by tablet. Here is the data: http://www.kenshoo.com/2012UKEarlyEdition