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What to expect on the forefront of mobile commerce-enabled advertising

Mobile advertising is growing at a rapid pace and is moving beyond static campaigns, according to industry experts.

More brands and retailers are realizing the power of giving consumers a buying option inside an ad campaign and this tactic will be used more commonly in 2012. According to experts, mobile advertising is an ideal vessel for brands to load with commerce options because of the interactive nature of mobile.

“We have seen that mobile advertising can really offer consumers a way to explore the product that a brand is selling by being able to touch with your fingers and interact with it,” said Tina Unterlaender, mobile account director at AKQA, San Francisco.

“A mouse between the user and the object has a slightly different connection with consumers compared to a finger and the object,” she said.

Brand following
Brands that have traditionally been on the cusp of mobile are now adding commerce-enabled actions to their advertising campaigns to keep up with the competition.

According to a recent survey from Boston Retail Partners, approximately 33 percent of retailers operate a mobile channel, which is up from 12 percent last year, showing how more retailers are understanding how mobile can be used to drive in-store and Web sales.

As consumers become more comfortable using their devices to research and buy products, commerce will eventually become a necessity in any smart retailer’s advertising strategy.

However, mobile commerce advertising is not strictly limited to in-application or mobile Web banners. Applying buying features to other mobile initiatives, including out of home, SMS and mobile bar codes is also crucial for brands looking to leverage their campaigns.

Ebay let users shop the windows at Jonathan Adler stores via mobile bar codes

Additionally, the growing tablet market will open up opportunities to marketers in the coming year.

“Tablets offer a whole new experience that mobile can offer, and in some cases the experiences inside tablet world trump what a brand can do online,” Ms. Unterlaender said.

“There are lots of investments being used with tablets and understanding how to make the best use of them,” she said.

“We have gotten to a point where the technology to enable commerce into mobile advertising has led to a surge in more companies using it.”

Location first
The growth in commerce-enabled advertising can also be attributed to a growth in location-based services and giving mobile users relevant offers while on the go.

For example, PayPal-owned mobile ad network Where is able to target mobile ads to where a consumer is and combine it with the consumer’s past buying behavior.

The ad network can also use a mobile user’s public data, including weather and traffic, to serve users a hyper-local ad to match where they are.

“Consumers are more accustomed now to searching for the things they want while they are
on the go,” said Walt Doyle, CEO of Where, Boston.

“This presents an opportunity for brands to serve advertising that enables consumers to find what they want, when they want it,” he said.

In order to best equip their ad campaigns, brands need to understand the difference between geo-fencing and geo-targeting to target an individual mobile user more uniquely.

Geo-fencing is a broader area that marketers can use to target a larger area such as a city. Geo-targeting gives advertisers a more specific and smaller area to base a campaign around.

In 2012, brands need to focus more on geo-targeting versus geo-fencing in order to get the most interaction, per Mr. Doyle.

Bank on rich media
By the time a consumer gets to the point of purchase inside a mobile advertisement, they are expecting a rich experience.

As consumers’ confidence increases in spending via mobile, brands and agencies need to follow suite, according to an executive from mobile ad network Adfonic.

“Everyone we are talking to now says they are spending up to 25 percent of their budgets on mobile, depending on the company,” said James MacDonald, New York-based general manager of the United States at Adfonic.

“The bottom line is that brands and agencies understand what mobile is about and they are creating mobile-centric teams,” he said.

“Right now, more brands are looking at mobile as an engagement branding and resource tool.”

Adfonic has recently begin focusing more on the U.S. market after seeing a huge amount of mobile advertising play coming from the area.

Standard mobile advertising with campaigns such as click-to-download are still overwhelming prominent, but as the feature phone slowly drops off, rich media is becoming more used by brands.

“The power to browse and buy on mcommerce in terms of driving a purchase is massive,” Mr. MacDonald said.

“It is not about what people are buying on mobile, it is about following consumers to where they will find the best mobile-discovered product, regardless of price” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York