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MMA Tries Again with Mobile Ad Format Standards

The Mobile Marketing Association is taking another stab at developing standardized mobile ad formats for the industry.

It issued two documents early in 2011–Mobile Advertising Guidelines (v5.0) and Universal Mobile Ad Package. By June, however, it acknowledged there were shortcomings to these guidelines.

Now it is rolling out its third attempt, standardized formats for a handful of commonly-used mobile ad types. MMA says this effort is particularly significant as includes collaboration from the sales side, including ad networks, rich media vendors and publishers, along with direct input from the buy side at global ad agencies. The proposed standards can be found here.

There is a comment period and then MMA hopes to introduce the six units next year. All the major ad networks have agreed to support the new standard set of units, MMA says.

iOS and Android Dominate

Not surprisingly, MMA noted that most of the mobile ad impressions are being delivered to mobile devices that operate on the iOS or Android systems. However, it added, it is aware that many advertisers will want to create and place advertising on devices that operate on Windows, Rim (Blackberry) or Symbian (Belle update) systems.

Tablet Guidance

MMA will also offer initial guidance as to what tablet ad unit sizes are gaining traction with both buyers and sellers. It will continue to offer refreshed guidance every 6 months going forward.

A Growing Market

It hardly needs to be said that the mobile advertising is growing rapidly.  Advertisers are expected to spend close to $1.23 billion on mobile campaigns this year, up from $743 million in 2010, according to eMarketer.

This spending is spread across an array of formats from banners, rich media and video to search and messaging-based campaigns. According to eMarketer, messaging-based formats are the primary mobile ad campaigns format this year, representing 36.1%, or $442.6 million, of spending. Next year it expects banners and rich media efforts to pull even with search, with each bringing in 33% of spending, or $594.8 million.

Messaging will slip to 28.2% and by 2015, search will lead with 40.2% of mobile ad spending, followed by banners/rich media, messaging and video.

Vendors Step Up

Little surprise then, that vendors have been developing their own units to target this market. In October, Google launched a series of mobile ad formats, including a click-to-download app to help users discover advertisers' apps.  Using this, advertisers can embed a link to their app, either on the App Store or Android Market, within their mobile search ads. It also launched beta ad unit that direct users to a page within a certain app, such as the checkout page.

It also unveiled Custom Search Ads, which that lets app developers include ads from Google within their mobile apps.

This year Greystripe also introduced two units under its Ad Boosters line: industry-focused and social-focused.

Incentivized Apps Mostly Discarded or Ignored

One mobile marketing mobile that may be falling out of favor—at least with consumers—is the application.

37% of smartphone owners who have downloaded an application for an incentive, such as free social or game points, say that they redeem the incentive and uninstall the app, while a further 25% receive the incentive and never use the app again, according to a survey by Harris Interactive on behalf of Pontiflex.

Data from the survey indicates that just 3% say they use the app often, while a similar proportion hardly ever uses the app (17%) as uses it occasionally (18%).

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