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Mobile social advertising makes quantum leap forward

Facebook is not the only social media site moving aggressively to improve its mobile advertising offerings. Twitter and LinkedIn also recently took steps to move mobile social advertising forward with better targeting and business-to-business offerings.

With social media use increasingly taking place from mobile device and smartphone adoption continuing to grow, the convergence of social and mobile holds out significant promise to enable marketers to deliver more contextually-relevant ads. Taken together, the recent advances made by Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are helping mobile social deliver on that promise.

?Mobile advertising on social media is exploding,? said Deb Hanamura, director of marketing at Metia, Seattle, WA.

?As the number of Android activations outpaces the U.S. birthrate, the use of mobile devices has created a new and compelling channel for advertisers who are trying to capture the attention of users who are passively engaged with their devices,? she said.

?Advertising to people in line at bus stops, waiting for movies to start and while they sit in doctors? offices is an exciting opportunity that can?t be ignored.?

Better targeting
Facebook recently introduced a way to target mobile ads based on the products and brands that users buy, which is already helping it attract big brands such as GM to mobile advertising on the platform. This is a significant move forward for mobile social advertising because behavioral targeting is already a popular strategy in digital marketing.

The social media giant is not stopping there, either.

Per Ms. Hanamura, Facebook is planning to release a new auto-play video ad platform this summer that may also be available on mobile.

Twitter is also improving its mobile advertising offerings.

Twitter said last week that it is giving advertisers a way to target ads based on words that appear in users' tweets for the first time. This will enable marketers to deliver ads that are more relevant to users, an important advancement as relevancy is one of the things consumers frequently say they want from ads.

?Twitter has taken a more conservative approach, but one that might actually play better on mobile devices,? Ms. Hanamura said. ?Twitter?s keyword targeting ad product allows advertisers to promote content based on a variety of interest graph signals in the hopes of optimizing relevance for the user.

?The dovetail between better CRM and a more nuanced targeting model from Twitter could have strong long-term potential,? she said.

Hashtag marketing
Hashtag marketing is another way to take advantage of the convergence of social and mobile, with many mobile users engaging with the content categorization tool via their mobile devices and open to marketing campaigns built around hashtags, according to a recent report from RadiumOne.

This potential is only enhanced by Twitter?s introduction of keyword targeting.

?Keyword targeting is very significant and that's why RadiumOne introduced hashtag targeting across out platform earlier this year,? said Doug Chavez, vice president of marketing at RadiumOne, San Francisco.

?As consumers express intent, platforms like RadiumOne, Twitter and Facebook have the ability to deliver on real-time marketing to reach consumers in the moment,? he said.

?I see this as less about competition between Facebook and Twitter and more of defining ability that separates the pack of ad platforms - if you can't do this, you're going to be a the back of the pack.?

B2B marketing
Also last week, LinkedIn unleashed the first major revamp of its LinkedIn app in nearly two years that adds in sponsored content.

This could be a significant leap forward in how business-to-business marketers are able to harness the convergence of mobile and social as they look to target executives on the go.

?Considering how challenging social media can be for B2B marketers, LinkedIn is a cornerstone of many B2B social strategies, and offering a better engagement model for advertisers is something worth paying close attention to,? Metia?s Ms. Hanamura said.

?Advertising only accounts for a third of LinkedIn?s revenue, but as more B2B advertisers get on board, the opportunity could be huge,? she said.

Challenges remain
Despite these advances, marketers do still face several challenges when it comes to leveraging social media for mobile users.

One is the potential for ad fatigue. Social media is a very personal experience for most users and it is not clear yet just how much advertising they will tolerate from this medium.

Already, there is some concern that Facebook is putting too many ads in front of mobile users and a move towards autoplay video ads could result in a backlash for the company.

?The autoplay of video on Facebook could be risky ? users are already growing tired of the promoted posts and the real estate that they are taking up on the page,? Ms. Hanamura said. ?When you shrink that down to a tablet or phone screen, you?ve got a potential recipe for disaster.

?Facebook started as a place to connect with friends, and it?s starting to look like Times Square,? she said.

Cross-channel campaign management
Another challenge is the need to integrate increasingly complex content strategies into advertising programs.

Additionally, marketers face the fact that the regulations surrounding social media are likely to be fluid for a while and the need to work out some of the kinks in the analytics tools provided by social media platforms.

?The main challenge for mobile-social advertising is cross-channel campaign management,? said Bodhi Short, senior vice president of product and operations at Integrate, Scottsdale, AZ.

?Most systems don?t have support for social listening, mobile push notifications or location-based campaigns,? he said.

?Marketers also need to reflect consumer preferences ? 53 percent of U.S. online adults are already annoyed by the amount of ads they see, and 37 percent would rather not be contacted frequently by brands.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York