Mobile ads can be big for small businesses

A young woman sits and drinks coffee while reading her smartphone

Consumer's mobile usage is not slowing down and large corporations and small businesses are taking note.

Spending on mobile advertisements is expected to surge 50 percent in 2015, reaching more than $28 billion, accounting for nearly half of all digital ad spending, according to eMarketer [1]. The rising percentage of mobile ad spending is cutting into the total share of desktop advertising, and that should continue in the coming years. The total cost of spending on mobile advertisements is expected to reach nearly $66 billion by 2019, which would account for 72.2 percent of all digital advertisement spending.

"However, local mobile advertising has, thus far, really only been open to larger brands with big budgets," Andrew Waber, a spokesperson at the online ad network Chitika, told Mobile Marketer, a leader in mobile marketing and commerce [2].

But how should growing small businesses tackle this booming advertising method if it has been primarily used by large corporations with massive advertising budgets?

Elie Sakhat, owner of the family-owned El Basha Restaurant, said she's recently found success with mobile advertising through an affordable mobile ad application designed by Chitika.

"I've been running five separate ad campaigns using Cidewalk for several weeks now, and I have really been amazed," Sakhat said. "For each, I picked the highest price point at 5,000 views for $5, and it was well worth it. I have had a bunch of customers come in during that period saying they saw my ad on their phone, which is the most you can hope for. Plus, I get stats showing the number of views and exactly where the ad was seen, which I really like."

Proximity market can be huge for small businesses
These relatively new marketing applications allow businesses to make investments through creating their own mobile ad. The ad can appear in a selected town across more than 10,000 mobile apps - from Major League Baseball and Weather Channel to games such as Angry Birds. For example, if a consumer is browsing a certain mobile app within close proximity to a store or restaurant, those potential customers will see a hyperlocal advertisement informing them about deals in the area, according to Mobile Marketer.

Small-business owners can count on proximity marketing being here to stay because powerhouse corporations such as Coca-Cola are pushing ahead with similar tools. Zoe Levine, senior manager of digital marketing at Coca-Cola, told Mobile Marketing Daily that Coca-Cola's intention is to know the location of its customers [3]. 

"We believe knowing where a person is in relation to where they can buy a Coke is going to be big for us," Levine said.

She added that mobile ads are largely social, and mobile activity data tells marketers "where you are, who you are and what makes you happy." Those are three vital details for marketers looking to enhance market share.

It's also incredibly useful for a small business to know the location of where its ads are being viewed. These mobile channels allow small businesses to see where people are relative to their venture, which is especially important for brick-and-mortar operations looking to improve foot traffic. If a successful business is getting a ton of leads from a particular area, they might want to consider expanding into that hotspot.

Mobile advertisements are strong promotional tools
Sakhat, who also recently bought billboard space to advertise her restaurant, said she hears from more customers about her mobile ads than anything else. Despite the billboard being much more expensive, Sakhat said she's received more business and garnered more interest from running mobile ads.

Another popular application that small-business owners should consider is Foursquare. This app spurs customer engagement, as it allows customers to start conversations and recommend small businesses they visit, according to Business News Daily.

[1]. Mobile Will Account for 72% of US Digital Ad Spend by 2019

[2]. Small businesses target hyper-local mobile ads via brands' apps

[3]. Yep, Mobile Ads Suck!: Coke, Kraft, Papa John's Know Why

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