Where Mobile Advertisements Roam

In a post today by Rafat Ali on MocoNews.net (Mobile Contextual Advertising: What About The Landing Page?), he wonders about text-based ads on basic WAP sites,

“So even if you think text-based contextual advertising is easily portable to the mobile, does it mean that the landing page from those contextual ads are also mobile-friendly? Unless they have been specially created for mobile, probably not. Just something to ponder upon…”

Text-based and other mobile advertisements are coming to a screen near you, as I conjectured in Opportunity on the Third Screen last September. Rafat raises a good question, though – who is going to use this medium and how are they going to do it?

All advertising eventually leads to some type of commerce transaction. However, there’s a spectrum along which advertisers fall that covers how immediate the transaction occurs. On one end, there’s metric-driven performance-based advertising which measures it success directly by whether or not commerce happens immediately (or in the trackable near-future). On the opposite end is brand advertising, which supports the general perspective and attributes of a brand, so that eventually a constituent who sees an ad influences a future purchasing decision, either individually or as part of an organization. And then there’s everything in between, where the ad isn’t direct response per se, but is still aiming towards a transaction sometime in future, to varying degrees.

My intuition and anecdotal evidence tells me that the first instances and early adopters of mobile advertising which Rafat refers to will be at the very ends of the spectrum, but not in the middle, and thus won’t face the problem he cites. Either the contextual advertising will be purely a branding building effort in that the mere mention of the company/product with a simple message is sufficient to get the point across, so that the need to clickthrough to a landing page won’t be high. Or, the advertiser will be offering a metric driven mobile transaction (e.g. ringtone, wallpaper, etc. or clickthrough to another mobile content site) where it will have a WAP site and landing page already set up regardless.

In either case, the quandary that Rafat is pondering won’t really be a problem until advertisers in the middle of the spectrum, who don’t have a mobile landing page, will need to create a presence. In other words, mobile advertising, at least in the short term, will be effective for those who gain a true advantage for reaching consumers in a mobile experience – because of the “undivided consumer attention” for pure brand advertisers and due to inducing performance-based transactions for direct marketers. Everyone else possesses better (digital media) venues as alternatives where they already offer a presence.

David Beisel

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As an investor in the digital media space, David was most recently a Vice President at Venrock and previously a Principal at Masthead Venture Partners. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, David co-founded Sombasa Media, an e-mail marketing company best known for its flagship product BargainDog. Sombasa was successfully acquired by About.com where David served as Vice President of Marketing. David holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University. He also founded and leads the Boston Innovators Group, an organization which holds quarterly entrepreneur events drawing a thousand attendees.

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