How to Choose the Right Mobile Ad Network for Your Brand and Target Locally

Much has been written about Google mobile search ads (Click-to-call, Location Extensions, Ads with Offers and so forth), so it’s time to take a deeper look at mobile ad networks.

By 2012, according to eMarketer, 50 percent of mobile devices will be smartphones. Nine out of 10 smartphone users are already using their devices to find local information and connect with local businesses.

As we enter this new local-mobile era, studies show that mobile advertising investments and mobile ad networks are expected to take off along with the smartphone explosion.

Mobile advertising is an extremely fragmented market, with a lack of reliable or detailed data on ad network market share and revenue. There are three different categories of networks to choose from:

  • Blind networks: These generally work on a CPC basis, and are typically considered the largest in terms of publishers, advertisers and impressions. They provide options for targeting content channels, such as news and sports, but don’t permit advertisers to choose specific websites. Networks that may fall into in this category are AdMob (owned by Google), Madvertise, BuzzCity, Adfonic, Admoda/Adultmoda, and Mojiva.
  • Premium blind networks: These are usually mid-sized and offer more premium and high-traffic publishers, such as newspapers, broadcasters, or operator portals. They tend to draw a higher percentage of brand advertising on a CPM basis. Premium blind networks may offer blind or semi-blind targeting, as well as options to buy both search and display ads and/or specific spots on sites of your choice. Examples in this category are xAd, Hunt Mobile Ads, Millennial Media, Greystripe, Madhouse and Jumptap.
  • Premium networks: These are popular with big brand advertisers willing to pay top prices to get prime locations on premium networks with a CPM pricing model. They usually offer superior direct sales and support and a multitude of targeting options. Well-known in this category are Mobile Theory, YOC Group, Hands, NAVTEQ Media Solutions, Microsoft Mobile Advertising, and


Many criteria need to be considered in building a mobile campaign. You’ll need to shop carefully, as there are many variations to consider (e.g., geographic coverage, targeting capability, pricing).

Here are three tips to help your brand choose a network that’s a good match for your business model.

1. Look for a Network With Extensive Local Reach

It’s critical to find a network that is able to connect local business advertisers with a vast array of mobile local publishers. Ideally, your network should also serve a high percentage of local mobile search applications – more than 60 to 70 percent of them.

2. Choose a Network That Specializes in Localized Content

These will serve ads directly to the local consumer. It’s important to target your ads hyper-locally based on ZIP code level or radius around a location target and not just at the metro or city level. The key is that ads are both locally and contextually relevant.

3. Look for a Network That Offers Search and Display Ad Serving

You should consider, and be able to test, two approaches to your mobile strategy: search and display ad serving. While SMS (text message) and display ads currently are the most popular formats, the faster growing mobile search ad category is expected to overtake this soon. Look for a network that offers both options – not all do.


Although the mobile ad landscape is still a fluid situation, it offers vast possibilities to national brands that want to promote their locations in order to generate leads, sales and local awareness.

Related reading

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Google Ads 2019: What to look out for
mobile search and video in 2019: how visible are you?