Mobile Native Ads vs. Mobile Banners Ads – A Side by Side Comparison

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Are you using banner ads now in your marketing, but thinking about switching over to native ads? Or maybe, you’re new to mobile advertising and what to know what all the hype is surrounding native ads? Perhaps you’re a digital advertising veteran, you remember all the excitement around Flash and you’re skeptical of trendy new ad technology?

To help marketers keep up with the rapid pace of change in advertising technology, we developed this comparison of the two ad formats. The strengths and weaknesses of mobile banner ads are as follows:

The Strengths of Mobile Banner Ads

  • Massive Reach: Mobile banner ads are currently supported by a large numbers of publishers. The format is also standardized and managed by trade associations like the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) and MMA (Mobile Marketing Association). This means advertisers can get massive reach through the format. Billions and billions of banner ad impressions are available on mobile daily.

  • Inexpensive Format: Relative to most channels, banner ads remain low cost. Search, sponsorships, print and television all have high price points and are almost impossible to buy in low quantities. Banner ads can be purchased easily in small amounts and available to advertisers with the smallest budgets.

  • Highly Flexible: The format supports a multitude of unique targeting options such from a variety of vendors. There are retargeting options, lookalike targeting options, data segmenting options, publisher specific targeting systems all available in almost every country around the world.

Mobile Banner Ads

The Weaknesses of Mobile Banner Ads

  • Accidental Clicks: Some estimates put the number as high as 50%. This number is not a huge surprise when the touch screen nature of most smartphone is taken into account. It does pose a problem for marketers, since a significant portion of those clicks are wasted, it skews brand measurement down and drives up cost.

  • Tiny Sizes: The limited screen real estate offers brands and advertisers a sub par creative experience at best. It’s a challenge to communicate any message more complex than a logo and tagline. The rich and captivating experience of television is the reason that the format still commands the bulk of advertising dollars.

  • Poor Performance: On mobile, banner ad performance overall has seen low click-through-rates and even lower engagement metrics. Performance starts to look real bad once you see that some of the clicks you do get are in-fact accidental. One study found that the average CPM pay out to publishers in mobile is a meager $0.75 (Kleiner Perkins). Another study found that users you’re more likely to die in plane crash then click on a banner ad.

While Mobile Native Ads are relatively new, the excitement around them has been significant. Facebook alone was able to scale Mobile Native Ads to over a Billion dollars in 2013. The strengths and weaknesses of mobile native ads are as follows:

The Strengths of Mobile Native Ads

  • Strong Performance: While the format is still new and data is limited, early test have show strong performance and significant return on investments for marketers. Facebook in only a years time, has been able to scale their native ads business to over a Billion dollars in revenue. Which means mobile native ads must be working extremely for a certain segment of advertisers.

  • No Creative Development: Most mobile native ad products don’t require a significant investment in creative resources. This is great for marketers who want to test with a limited budget and have limited resources. Creative development for digital advertising is a significant barrier for many marketers.

  • Targeting Options: Most native ad products have rich first party data targeting options that can be difficult to access through another method. For example, accurate / male female targeting is possible, as is relationship status targeting.

Native Ad Format

The Weaknesses of Mobile Native Ads

  • Currently Limited: Scalable native advertising models are limited. Outside of Facebook, most native ad products are still new and in early testing stages. At scale native ad buying and campaign management tools are still emerging.

  • Fragmented and Non-Standardized: The formats are not currently managed by the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) and MMA (Mobile Marketing Association). Each publisher is free to create their size, style, with different functionality and options. Which makes at scale campaign management tough.

  • Still Just a Trend?: Are mobile native ads here to stay? Or will they fade away like so many other promising and exciting technologies. Investing too early into a technology that goes the way of betamax or Flash is a problem. But if they take off it could prove to a massive competitive advantage to your product or company.