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Mobile ad spend to accelerate as consumption increases

NEW YORK ? Mobile ad spend in the United States is 3 percent of total ad spend, which is surprisingly low compared to consumption on mobile, according to a Millward Brown Digital executive at Mobile FirstLook: Strategy 2014.

In the grand scale of spend, mobile is a tiny piece, according to Jennifer Okula, senior vice president at Millward Brown Digital, New York. Yet as mobile ad spend grows, it increases digital ad spend.

"When you take a step back and look at just mobile advertising, when we look at the share of digital ad spend and how mobile plays a role in that in 2012 mobile ad spend was 7 percent of digital ad spend," Ms. Okula said. "The share of digital ad [spend] with mobile is getting a bigger piece of the pie.

"Taking a higher look at total ad spend, U.S. total ad spend mobile was only 3 percent of total ad spend," she said. "That's real surprisingly low compared to the consumption of mobile and the percent of consumption that mobile has, which is growing rapidly year-over-year."

Ms. Okula was among panelists at the "Advertising: Why Isn't the Pie Bigger?" breakout session.

"A trend in mobile advertising is as smartphone use continues to increase the key trend will be advertising, richer advertising, rich media advertising, advertising, engaging advertising within applications, and some of these companies that do more rewards-based type advertising within apps will continue to trend as well," Ms. Okula said.

Rich media ads contribute to increased traffic.

Increasing mobile traffic is a trend that speaks for itself, according to David Hewitt, Atlanta-based vice president and global mobile practice lead at SapientNitro.

"I try to be careful not to say mobile is a channel that is one of the challenges that marketers face is that we're chasing mobile as a channel," he said. "I think we need to not treat mobile like a channel and say we're taking real estate from one place and moving it to another."

Consumers exhibit different behaviors in various situations.

"Mobile offers the opportunity to combine online and offline and to think about how those behaviors change and how those advertising messages and content can be better integrated," Mr. Hewitt said. "So we need to shift our mindsets from not just moving inventory and not just thinking about mobile as a channel.

"It's that personal computer that's always in our pocket," he said. "It's that always on consumer."

Social media sites Facebook and Pandora have helped increase awareness of mobile traffic.

"You've seen CNN start integrating content into itself," Mr. Hewitt said. "At that point, you're getting content in an advertising interacting with the flow of that content.

"At Buzzfeed, we don't distinguish between mobile and desktop advertising," said Jonathan Perelman, vice president of agency strategy and industry development at Buzzfeed, New York. "If you do a program with us it runs across all devices.

"I think we're going to start to see more," he said. "I hope we're going to see more of that. 

"It's that we're not always distinguishing between the two. Yes, there are differences but it should work."

According to Mr. Perelman, the first year of mobile was around 2007 and it is still the "year of mobile."

"I hope in 2014, we're going to see the overall strategy not being the same strategy," he said.

For example, it is important to analyze consumers' behaviors, such as those who are "bored in line, bored at work and bored at home."

Each consumer group looks at content differently, whether they are skimming it quickly while waiting for their lattes or watching videos on their tablets while sitting on their couches at home and also watching TV.

"What we're focused on is understanding those different behaviors," Mr. Perelman said. "It's the same person, what kind of content are they consuming on their devices at different times?"

Final Take
Kari Jensen is staff writer at Mobile Marketer, New York