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What publishers can do to ride the mobile ad wave

By Jason Fuentes

In 2012, the advertising industry arguably was officially introduced to a brand new marketing medium: mobile advertising. It barreled onto the scene, took center stage, and quickly cemented itself as the marketing medium of the future.

The mobile industry had plenty to celebrate last year as the fabled ?Year of Mobile? had finally arrived. But its arrival also caused disruption, particularly for online publishers.
During a period when online publishers were already improvising monetization efforts to compensate for the rise of programmatic buying, mobile introduced yet another variable that would further cannibalize an already depleting bottom line, forcing a shift in focus.

Already squeezing every last cent out of online CPMs, mobile immediately made its presence felt as online audiences were no longer restricted to a computer screen as a means of accessing their favorite digital content.

Quietly but quickly, mobile advertising began cannibalizing impressions from the desktop impressions.

Digital publishers reliant on online advertising revenue were suddenly dealt with a brand new form of supply to figure out and monetize immediately, or face a slow death at the expense of mobile's rapid growth.
By properly understanding the psyche of the mobile user, and aligning approaches to meet what consumers demand, these basic mobile guidelines for publishers will not only help their properties produce a mobile experience that maximizes mobile audience engagement, but also the revenue stream that follows:
? Content is king, and this is especially true in mobile.

When determining how to slice and dice online content for the mobile screen, hone in on the content that matters to the publisher?s audience and make it compatible for their mobile viewing pleasure.

For this content to be considered mobile-compatible, at least two requirements must be met.

First, this content needs to be easily found and identified by the user upon initial visit and, second, it must be made native to the mobile screen.

Simply shrinking pre-existing content, which then requires the mobile visitor to pinch and zoom to engage with information, is a mobile property?s worst enemy.

In fact, a recent study commissioned by Google found that 79 percent of mobile visitors that find a mobile site difficult to use would immediately leave to find a suitable replacement. 

? Mobile is a need-to-know-now medium. Unlike television, radio or the PC, mobile users carry an Internet-connected device with them at all times. 

This reality feeds our instincts for instant gratification, so it is only natural that a mobile user is accustomed to immediately being able to access the desired content or information.

Within seconds, a mobile device can be leveraged to find the nearest food, access the latest sports scores, look up tomorrow?s weather forecast, watch a trailer, or buy movie tickets.

To reproduce a successful mobile experience for a publisher?s organic audience, their immediate asks must be met.

? Which is better, app or mobile-optimized site? Depending on who you ask, there is an argument to be made for either as each format comes with an inherit set of benefits and limitations.

When deciding on which to adopt, it is advised to let the content influence the decision-making.
For example, applications are conducive to rich content experiences. Publishers with an audience that primarily consumes video, music, images and social media are more likely to reproduce a favorable mobile experience for their audience through an app.

On the other hand, a well-designed mobile-optimized site may be best suited for content that is oriented to research or tasks.

Whereas apps are largely used for consumption of media or leisurely browsing, mobile Web audiences are typically on a mission in search of facts or specific information.        

? Monetization of mobile is very possible. For most publishers reliant on ad revenue, low mobile CPMs and ad fill rates are top concerns of this medium.

That said, many publishers who find themselves in this situation can look to experience immediate gains by examining mobile monetization shortfalls and adjusting appropriately.

For one, just because a site can be accessed from a mobile device does not make it mobile-optimized.

All too often, I come across Web-based properties simply trying to milk their pre-existing ad demand by serving online formatted banners within mobile-based viewing sessions.

Given that mobile traffic already accounts for 20 percent of all daily U.S. Internet traffic and, with sales of mobile devices also surpassing PCs, this shift in traffic from desktop to mobile is not destined to slow down anytime soon.

FOR THOSE ill prepared to fully absorb this continual transition, the good news is that it is not too late for publishers to adopt a successful mobile strategy, regardless of whether they are starting from scratch or purely looking to improve upon a current framework.

Jason Fuentes is senior director of mobile at RadiumOne, San Francisco. Reach him at