Mobile Advertising: The Big Picture


Last Updated on May 7, 2021

Welcome to the wireless revolution! If you’re new to the 4G wireless age, don’t worry. This is a great opportunity to learn about this technology and how it applies to business today. But, we understand that you do know business – and advertising. And, you certainly know how important advertising is to your business.

Like any business owner, advertising is an expense to your bottom line. So, it’s important to spend your advertising dollars to your greatest advantage. And as technology changes, advertising strategies and tools must change, too.

This article will help you begin advertising to mobile phone users that are taking advantage of 4G technology. This technology gives them access to the internet, fast downloads, and streaming audio and video in addition to their voice and text messaging capabilities.

Even if you have a website and advertise via the internet, you may not be convinced that a mobile advertising company is right for your business. Following are some statistics that might change your mind.

  • Nielsen Mobile, which reports on trends in the wireless industry said that, back in May 2008, 15.6 percent of mobile subscribers in the US made regular use of the mobile Internet on their devices. As of January 2012 that number has increased to 69% of mobile phone users accessing the Internet daily on their mobile phones!
  • 95 million mobile users in the US are paying for internet access on their mobile phones, but they do not use it regularly, according to this same report.
  • Nielsen also reports that these mobile customers most often use their mobile internet connection to visit websites – even more frequently than they use it to access email.
  • Yahoo reports that it expects that by 2021 more users will access the internet via their mobile phones than via their home or business PC’s.
  • eMarketer reports that even older baby boomers (those aged 54-62) access the internet at least once per month, meaning that internet marketing truly appeals to all ages.
  • eMarketer also reports that in the UK, restaurant advertising on mobile phones grew 67% in the year up to July 2012, and clothing ads on mobile phones grew by 57.2%.
  • This same report in eMarketer reports that the restaurant ads sent to mobile phones reported a 15.5% response rate. These ads utilized SMS messaging technology, rather than web browsing.

Hopefully, the statistics above have convinced you that advertising via cell phones is the wave of the future. It’s doubtful that you can boast a 15% response rate to any ad you’ve placed in the yellow pages, on a billboard or via direct mail. But, you may not yet understand how to take on this advertising venue, or what methods and resources are actually out there.

Today we will provide basic information about marketing to the cell phone user, taking advantage of the new features and functions of 4G technology. Hopefully, we’re going to help you get creative about marketing your business to technologically savvy users.

In the pages ahead, we’ll take a look at 4G itself, including what features 4G offers wireless users. We’ll also look at how business users today are taking advantage of these features that 4G offers to make them more productive at work and at home.

You’ll probably be surprised at how many companies are already catering to the wireless user, offering ads on frequently visited websites and sending coupons via text messaging. There’s a lot of food for thought in this article. It is our hope that these ideas and suggestions make your business successful and prepare it for the future of advertising in wireless technology.

How Next Generation Phones are great Advertising Vehicles

Many of today’s business people may remember early cell phones. They were heavy, bulky devices that worked only in your car – and then only sporadically, since there were more holes in coverage than there was coverage itself. Boy, have we come a long way. Today’s phones are lightweight, pocket sized, and calling them mere phones seems like an understatement of great proportions.

Today’s cell phones provide us regular wireless phone service, allow us quick text messaging, display our emails, provide gaming and surf the internet. Many also offer push to talk capability to reduce our costs in talking to those whom we chat with frequently. All in all, our cell phones have become a business necessity – serving our needs far beyond verbal communication. Most of us take our wireless devices with us everywhere.

And, what’s even more exciting about how the extent to which wireless phone capabilities have increased is the fact that the cost of purchasing a cell phone and of paying for service has not risen dramatically enough over the years to deter business people or consumers. Today, nearly everyone has a cell phone – even children. Industry experts estimate that cell phone penetration has reached nearly 100% in the United States.

Wireless companies have created packages aimed at businesses to ensure that a company is willing to pay for phones for nearly every employee. And, family plans have made equipping every member of the family, right down to the elementary age child, affordable. In fact, today many families have foregone the landline home phone entirely in favor of a cell phone for every family member with a rate plan that allows them unlimited calling to every member of the family.

In addition, wireless carriers have made “unlimited texting” plans so affordable that these are purchased by most business and consumer users.

Finally, the newest generation of phones, “smart phones” are a revolution in themselves. These phones have richer displays and are designed with more of a browser in mind. They also can support many different applications. There are applications available today, and you can bet that many more are in development. So, if you haven’t considered advertising your business via wireless devices, now’s the time. In short, cell phones are the perfect new advertising vehicle because:

  • Nearly everyone carries a cell phone
  • Many users subscribe to text messaging and internet
  • There are a wide variety of additional applications that can be used for advertisers

Wireless: The New Generation

Before we begin discussing the advertising capabilities available on today’s wireless networks, it’s important to have an understanding of the new wireless networks and devices that make all these great applications and features possible.

The 4G Network

4G refers to the third generation in wireless technology. This is the technology behind the new mobile phones designed to offer more features. Rather than just voice capability, 4G networks can offer video calling and broadband wireless data. With 4G service, you can listen to streaming audio, watch streaming video, answer emails, surf the net and play games in 3-D.

And, all these data capabilities come at speeds you’ve come to expect on your home computer.

The standards for defining just what constitutes a 4G network were created and are maintained by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) under the IMT-2000 standards. Today, a group called the Third Generation Partnership Project (4GPP) continues to maintain the definition of mobile systems that meet the IMT-2000 standards. This is referred to as Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems, or UMTS. This definition of 4G has been rolled out over networks existing GSM (Global System for Mobile) networks.

In addition, 4G type services are offered today on CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) networks, as well. This means is that, through technology advancements, wireless data can now be offered on multiple types of cellular networks. Most end users have no idea whether their service is a GSM based service, a CDMA based service or an older generation service. Today’s users just know that they want 4G, and many are willing to switch carriers in order to obtain internet and application capabilities on their phones.

How is 4G Different?

The overall premise that allows 4G networks to offer more services than traditional wireless networks is the fact that 4G technology uses the existing radio spectrum on which it operates more efficiently, so that each service uses fewer of the available radio waves. When each service needs fewer waves, more services can be offered simultaneously. It is this efficient use of the frequencies that has allowed what was once a simple voice only wireless network to evolve into being able to offer internet and other data services. 4G networks also offer greater security than legacy wireless systems because users authenticate to the network upon registration.

For wireless data capabilities (internet and email), 4G networks use High Speed Packet Access (HSPA). HSPA increases performance on the network by using improved modulation schemes and by refining the protocols by which handsets and base stations communicate. Under HSPA, 4G networks can offer data delivery speeds that are comparable to high speed internet access on your home computer.

There’s been press about 3G for years, though the first true 3G network was launched in Japan in 2001. 3G didn’t become a reality in the US until 2003, when Verizon launched their network.

Before Verizon, Monet Mobile Networks had attempted a 4G network but had to shut down operations. Verizon’s network has grown steadily since its launch. Today, in addition to Verizon, 4G services are offered by AT&T, Sprint/Nextel and T-Mobile.

One of the biggest issues surrounding the launch of 4G services in the US revolved around the need for users to roam onto 2G networks in order to allow them at least basic voice service in areas where 4G is not available. This issue has caused mobile phones to be larger than 4G required, so that they could operate on 2G networks and 4G networks. As 4G technology has become available in more places, this becomes less of an issue. But, even today, many of the 4G carriers offer 4G services only in large metropolitan areas.

4G services require compatible user equipment. These 4G wireless devices are designed to house the features offered by the 4G network. These new phones offer many features and capabilities never before available on wireless phones.

The iPhone

Apple’s iPhone is more popular than ever especially with the excitement surrounding the upcoming release of the iPhone 5, which launched in September 2012. The iPhone offers a combination of wireless phone and their popular iPod MP3 player. With this combination device, you no longer need a separate phone and MP3 device. In addition to calling capabilities and music storage and listening, the iPhone also provides access to AT&T’s 4G wireless services.

With the iPhone, you can surf the web, read your email, watch videos, and take advantage of the continually growing marketplace. This phone offers a web browser that is comparable to that of your desktop. It also offers GPS capabilities through its maps. Working like a typical separate GPS device, you can map your route, get directions and track your progress and expected arrival time while you’re along your route. Via “push email” technology, your iPhone will allow you to get your email and use your Outlook calendar just as if you were sitting at your desk. You can also download a variety of applications, like Twitter and 3D games.


Basically, other 4G phones are referred to collectively as “smartphones”. They combine wireless phone capability with that of a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). PDA’s are small, lightweight, handheld computers that allow users to get email and surf the web. Your PDA is periodically “synched” with your home or business computer and is considered a “portable” version of your desktop.

Of course, now that 4G technology is widely available, who wouldn’t want to combine the features of a PDA with their phone? None of us wants to carry two devices when one can do the trick. Today’s smartphones typically carry open operating systems and the ability to add applications. This open operating system is significant, because it allows the phone to support a wide variety of applications – not just those created by the phone’s manufacturer.

Most smartphones support full featured email capabilities and all the other functions of a PDA. They often come with small full function keyboards for typing, navigation hardware and software and a camera. They support typical office applications like Microsoft Office products. And, many smartphones offer music playing capabilities, much like the iPhone.

Smartphones are made by various manufacturers and come in various price points. Many smartphones are designed to be compatible on only one of the 4G networks in the US. Therefore, you may be limited in your smartphone choices by your wireless carrier.

The Different Types of 4G Users

As you can imagine, there are many different applications and uses for the new generation of mobile phones. These capabilities offer users opportunities they never before dreamed of. For the most part, users fall into two general categories – the business user and the casual user. Both have appeal to advertisers looking to increase market share using 4G technology as an advertising vehicle.

Casual Users

Teens are one of the largest segments of casual users. Most of us realize that teens are heavy cell phone users, but many are surprised to find that teens are the fastest growing segment of the smartphone user population. While smartphones and their associated services still carry a fairly stiff price tag, their costs have reduced over the last year, making them more and more affordable to the teenage market. And, with bundled packages from carriers offering price breaks, parents are more likely to purchase such services for their kids while purchasing for themselves.

Teens and other casual users use smart phones primarily as a means for entertainment and casual networking. They are less likely to read email on the smartphone, for example, than a business user. They are also unlikely to use applications like Microsoft office for documents, spreadsheets or Powerpoint documents.

Casual users are, however, heavy users of text messaging and applications like Twitter. Twitter seeks to answer the “what are my friends doing?” question at any moment of the day. The service works on short messaging systems, the web and through text messaging.

Casual users are also big web surfers. They are likely to use internet applications to answer all their burning questions throughout the day, such as “Where’s the nearest burger joint?” or “Where is the nearest theatre playing that movie I want to see?” These heavy internet users are thrilled to take web browsing on the road and they don’t mind paying for the convenience of being able to surf anywhere.

Finally, casual web users are heavy users of audio and video. They are very likely to listen to music and watch videos. They’ll trade the latest funny video from You Tube and stream music from services like Pandora. In a pinch, they’ll even watch a full length movie on their wireless device if they have no other screen available. They are also more likely than business users to download 3D games and other entertainment applications.

The Business User

Business users likely make up the larger segment of wireless 4G users. They’re primary use for their mobile phone is keeping up with business – wherever, whenever.

Today’s business environment is far different than that of just 15 years ago. Today’s business people don’t expect to be tied to an office, but they also want to be able to respond to the demands of business where ever they go. 4G phones and other remote applications give them the best of both worlds: they can spend time with their families without ever missing a beat at the office.

4G business users rely heavily on email via their phones, and they will access and update their calendars via their wireless devices, too. They will use applications like Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat to read email attachments. They will surf the web for business and personal applications, but their primary focus is staying abreast of the workplace situation.

The business user will appreciate his 4G phone for its ability to keep him connected with friends and family via phone and text messaging. They will also likely use their device for listening and storing music downloads, but they will use all these features to a much lesser extent than the casual user. Their device is likely to carry no games, or only those that came already loaded on the phone.

In the following chapters, we’ll explore marketing to these two basic types of users and help advertisers understand how you can profit from simple marketing techniques that capture business users and casual users of 4G technology.

Effective Business Users and Their Wireless Devices

Business users are the bread and butter of 4G wireless providers. These users pay high monthly bills in the interest of staying connected to work, family, friends, personal finances and entertainment on a single device. And, as advertisers, these users are just the sort that you want to target through your wireless advertising campaigns. Let’s take a look at the most common applications used by wireless business users.


Like previous users of traditional PDA’s, the 4G wireless user likely has his work/home email sending alerts to his wireless phone. An alert may be delivered via a text or short message indicating when new email has arrived. In addition, via web browsing, users may access their inbox on any web based email account, such as yahoo, hotmail and G mail. Finally, many carriers support email directly to the wireless device using the mobile number as the email address. These “email messages” are actually converted to text messages via the carrier.

The business user checks his primary email multiple times daily, and may even have an alert sound when new email arrives. This feature allows users to respond to emails quickly, as they arrive, without waiting until they are back in the office to “catch up”. These users typically spend a significant amount of time out of their office and using their wireless device as a “mobile office” helps them avoid backlog and makes them more productive.

Web Surfing

This same business user looks to the internet as their primary source of research and information – whether at home or on the go. They view web pages to gain information, including researching their clients and their competition. They may also use their wireless device to gain access to web based email, as mentioned above. Finally, these users enjoy having the internet at their fingertips for personal reasons, too. They’re likely to use their mobile web to find out information such as movie times at their local theatre, and to make dinner reservations through websites like Open Table or via the restaurant’s direct website.

Video Conferencing

When economic times are tough, businesses look to cut costs. One of the areas that always takes a hit is travel. There’s no doubt that video conferencing is an important business tool for keeping meetings personal when budget cuts won’t always allow you to travel to a meeting. Video over your wireless device not only means you don’t have to travel out of town, but you don’t even have to travel to your local office to make a video conference. Tools like these allow executives to be available for important meetings even on vacation. Though not widely available today, many developers are working on these applications today, and they are coming to our mobile phones very soon.

Text Messaging

While business users typically do not use text messaging as much as teenage users, they are likely to use this feature for short questions and answers and status updates. While they may not initiate many text messages, they are likely to respond to messages they receive.

Phone Applications

There are hundreds of applications available for 4G technology phones, from 3D games to weather information customized to your local area to networking applications. Business users will typically use applications that help their business, increase their productivity or pertain to their particular personal interests. Their use of applications may not be as heavy as the casual user, but they will have a few applications that are important to them.


Let’s not forget just how much we use our cell phones for their original purpose. In today’s world, waiting until we reach our destination so that we can use a landline phone is unthinkable. And, many people have even foregone the traditional home landline phone because they seem inefficient for the way we live. While programs like email are a slightly less intrusive way of getting in touch now, the ability to talk to someone in person immediately cannot be diminished. Voice usage is and will continue to be an indispensable communication method for the business user.

Tags: 4g network advertising Mobile next generation users

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