If the AMC hit show Mad Men were set in 2015, it wouldn’t focus on commercials, magazines and billboards. It would be all about mobile marketing — the future (and present) of the industry.

In 2013, one of five people in the world owned a smartphone, and that was two years ago. Today, that number has exploded. Most people can’t name four people they know who don’t own a smartphone (and we’re not even including the other mobile device in the family — tablets). This means it’s the prime place to advertise, and here’s how it’s being done more in 2015.

Mobile Apps & Optimized Web

It’s one of the last places for a captive audience on the mobile platform. Unless an app offers a paid, ad-free upgrade, most free apps rely on advertising to generate revenue. And users who have no alternative than to settle for the free version will often sit through ads that pop up at the bottom of the screen.

For this reason, marketers invest heavily in mobile apps and optimized websites for smartphones and tablets the same way movie theaters still sell ad space in 2015 — the captive audience. Of course, every audience has its tipping point, and marketers are still careful to find the balance of effective and non-invasive.

A Global Audience

The mobile platform is assimilating quickly across the world, and even people of undeveloped countries are getting their hands on tablets and smartphones. No, marketers aren’t trying to sell ads in the third world, but a global audience unlocks a new opportunity to reach people not possible only two or three years ago. The Mobile Marketing Association estimated the industry at $220 billion worldwide in 2014, and that number has certainly ballooned this year. With more than 7 billion people in the world, there’s a chance to reach all of them like never before.

Location Services

This is already well implemented in desktop advertising. If you search for “Cardinals” on Google in St. Louis, you get the St. Louis Cardinals as your top hit. Do the same search in Arizona and you’ll see the Arizona Cardinals at number one. But where desktops can narrow down a city, location services on mobile can narrow down a building or venue.

iBeacon is an effective tool marketers use to advertise to mobile users based on very specific locations. Walk into a baseball stadium and get updates on deals at the team shop. Enter a marketplace and learn about some of the best restaurants. Marketers can now specify what they want to sell you based on the very spot you stand.

Social Media

All the targeted audiences, location services and optimized sites will never trump the power of organic search and sharing. Social media is still by far the most effective way to reach audiences in a powerful way. But it’s also the most difficult because it’s not advertising you can buy, it has to be genuine.

Even the most unsuspecting brands can make big moves on social media. Take identity theft protection service LifeLock, for example. It uses its Twitter account to educate followers about identity theft and prevention tips, instead of simply spamming posts with its services. That sort of strategy helps build a brand and makes social media more authentic to potential customers.


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