Friday, March 20, 2009

In search of mobile advertising

Have you noticed that the advertising, mobile, and even mainstream media is going ga-ga over mobile advertising? So where are the banners for mobile websites?

I am trying to launch a mobile site with advertising and I am finding more road blocks than green lights. First, many existing ads on mobile sites actually point at big browser ads. This is O.K. for some mobiles, but not all of them. While all BlackBerries can display these pages beautifully, many BlackBerries are shipped with all of the requisite settings turned off. This means that the average BlackBerry user misses out on a real web experience because someone thought it was better to browse badly formatted sites fast than it is to browse a real site the way it was designed. On the other hand, Google will only provide mobile banners if you format your page exclusively for mobile browsers. Believe it or not, that means that your site won't work on some mobile browsers as well. Apple's iPhone can render a big browser page as good as any mobile device. Unfortunately it chokes on websites designed with WAP 2.0 which is the preferred platform for Google's mobile ad program. Google's own Android also looks down upon mobile formatted sites thinking that their 3" screen can substitute just fine for the 20" you have on your desk. Yea, yea, the battle between two apparent mobile web development camps; mobile formatted content and big pages on little screens, means that neither philosophy works for everyone.

With that in mind, I designed my page with basic HTML formatting so that it looks good on any screen, big or small. The problem is that because the page was written in HTML, I can't find an ad affiliate that will provide links that point at mobile ads. O.K., I am embellishing here. There is one affiliate program that supports, O.K., they promote, their mobile ad program. Here is an excerpt from their website:

"To help publishers stay on the cutting edge of shopping trends --------- now offers Mobile Links. Designed for those publishers that want to work with certain advertisers to create tracking links for mobile devices, --------- Mobile Links provides an easy to use technology framework for distributing and maintaining m-commerce links. ---------'s m-commerce tracking technology enables advertisers and publishers to reach and accurately measure the buying behavior of mobile consumers."

Wow, that is EXACTLY what I was looking for. I registered on their site, read their required exceedingly long publisher's agreement, and began to search for links. There was nothing for mobile. I went back to the website and found this:

"If you are a publisher that’s interested in building a site that is designed for mobile commerce and would benefit from --------- Mobile Links join the --------- Network to get started and share your plans with the --------- Network Development team."

There is no information on their site about their Network Development team, let alone how to contact them, so I called the publisher's support line. The rep was friendly, but told me that there was no way for me to contact them. She would take my information and have someone get back to me. Here is the response I got:

"If your mobile web page can be accessed with a normal web browser you can use any --------- links or banners. If it is exclusively formatted for mobile phone web browsers, the only advertiser that currently offers these links is"

One advertiser! One! Boy that's going to help me stay on the cutting edge.

So my search continues. I have a friend who recommended that I write a case study on finding mobile banners. The more I hunt, the more I think it will become a business plan.

If you provide an affiliate program with mobile banners, or know someone who does, I will happily sing your/their praises in this blog. I'll even give you/them as prominent a spot on the site as I am allowed to by contract.

SO, with this advertising drought, I may actually launch this page as a free app on an international mobile app store with NO advertising. Watch this blog for more adventures in mobile advertising.

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