The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Mobile Ad Campaign

More people than ever are living their lives on smartphones. Your future clients are literally around the corner of your store. How do you plan an effective mobile ad campaign that can get them in your door?

Many brands and businesses expect the use of mobile advertising will increase their sales. As an ad agency, your clients may have the tactical marketing plan, but you need to help them envision how mobile would fit into those plans.

Proper planning is crucial to creating a successful mobile ad campaign. It delivers better results and create happy customers.

In this article, we will cover a step-by-step guide on how to plan, set up, and launch a mobile ad campaign. Hopefully, it’ll help you as you dive into the mobile rich media ad project. - The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Mobile Ad Campaign

The First Step – Do Some Background Planning for your Mobile Ad Campaign

When you start any ad campaign, you should begin by asking the following questions:

1. What is the objective of this campaign?

You need a clear goal for your mobile campaign. There are a variety of marketing reasons your client wants to run an ad campaign.

  • To raise awareness
  • To establish branding
  • To boost sales
  • To drive web traffic to the site or landing page
  • To drive visitation to your store
  • To promote a special deal

The objective will set the direction of your preparation and execution. Hence, it’s critical to be clear of where the ad is heading.

2. Who is your target audience?

Your target audience dictates the effectiveness of your mobile ad campaign.

You need to have a clear understanding of who they are, what they need or like, and how they view your ad. With this, you can deliver the right message at the right time in the right location.

The trends and opportunities you learn from the trending mobile landscape and users behavior can help you better prepare for the mobile ad strategy.

  • Consumers have come to expect a certain amount of contextual relevance from ads
  • Four in five want search ads to be customized to their city, zip code or immediate surroundings
  • 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find products, services, or experiences nearby
  • More than 60% of consumers used the local information in an ad, specifically the link for directions and the click-to-call button (or the local address and phone number if on a computer or tablet).


Based on the global mobile internet users, users’ primary locations while accessing their mobile are at home (33%), public place (27%), while traveling or roaming (23%), and at work (17%). (source: Global Web Index)

Think deeply about what it means to serve mobile customers. Smartphone or tablet users differ from one another and are different from desktop users. Avoid from adapting a desktop strategy to fit mobile. It will impact the effectiveness of your message and the results of the execution.

Here are some patterns that may help.

  • Mobile users of your target group will be at a specific location at a certain time. For instance, working class group will be on the road in the evening.
  • Tablet users expect higher quality creatives and often use the tablet at home during evening or weekend with WiFi connection. So you’ll need to work on the high-quality creatives that render well over WiFi connection. You also need to time your ad correctly for those types of target users.

You can use the tools to understand mobile consumer and study your target audience.

  • Consumer Barometer
    • The Multi-screen World – to quantify and understand Internet usage and attitudes across various devices
    • The Smart Shopper – consumer purchase journey and role of the Internet in making purchase decisions
    • The Smart Viewer – insights into people’s recent online video use across different devices
  • Google Analytics – study your usual customer behavior
  • Facebook Audience Manager – access the Audience Insights tool to analyze the people who have bought from you
  • Twitter Audience Insights – to figure out the different interests, demographics, occupation, lifestyle, consumer behavior, political affiliation, etc.

Identify target audience immediately after you define your campaign objective(s).

It helps to ensure that you tailor all elements of the ad strategy specifically to this audience, enabling you to communicate meaningfully with these customers.

A good way to identify a target audience is to create a profile of a sample member of this group. Answer the following questions to get started:

  • Who would have a need for the particular product or service you are trying to market?
  • What is the ideal, manageable size of your primary target audience? Avoid being too specific (e.g., “32-year-old women executives living in Singapore”) or too vague (e.g., “millennials”) to find an audience that is the right scope for your campaign.
  • Which methods of communication would work well in connecting with this audience? Look at demographic information about which age groups and types of people use mobile devices, and how they use them. You can use the links mentioned above.

Make sure to research your target audience thoroughly before making other plans. Different groups of people respond uniquely to what they see and read. Their tastes and preferences will affect how well they respond to the type of communications they receive.

Additional Resources:
What is a Mobile Ad Server & Why Would You Need It
How to Create HTML5 Animated Ads
What is a DSP and How Does it Work

Second Step — Develop Your Campaign Approach

3. What is your communication strategy for the mobile ad campaign?

Now that you have a clear objective and target audience, you can start planning your campaign strategy.  You should decide the communication methods you want to use in your mobile ad campaign.

Types of Communication for Your Ads

Video or Animation

  • Communicate your message by enticing your target audience through a short video or interesting animation.
  • This method allows you to convey a compelling message or build a real connection with your target audience through user experience.
  • Example: Ford releases a short video about users driving experience

Product or Service Promotion

  • Compelling campaign messaging that reaches out to specific target consumer in an attempt to induce the customer to use a service, purchase the product or visit the store.
  • This method works best using a pull-based campaign to convert potential buyers into actual sales more effectively because it expects consumers to act on the message immediately.
  • Example (pull-based): KFC challenges you to taste and rate the spiciness level you can take with their new special hot sauce.
  • Executing it in a push-based campaign means you will just be sending out to customers and hope they respond by purchasing your product/services.
  • Example (push-based): KFC introduces the latest meal promotion.

Public Service Communication

  • Informs and educates your target audience instead of pitching.
  • This method is useful to develop an emotional connection with your target audience.
  • Example: Lifebuoy educates the public on the needs of protecting your loved ones from germs.

Guerrilla Campaign

  • This is usually an unconventional advertising method that invites your target audience to participate or interact with the campaign.
  • Sometimes this type of execution requires gamification.
  • This method needs more planning and effort to execute.
  • Example: Emirates invites users to participate in a quiz to win free flights.

The types of communication can also be determined by whether you want to push information to customers of pull them to you to start a dialog.

Points to ponder when deciding your communication strategy.

  • What is the overarching campaign goal, branding or performance? With rich media ads, you can do both branding and performance-based campaign simultaneously. A well-defined campaign goal gives you more precise communication design.
  • Is the communication strategy aligned with my campaign objective(s)? Countercheck with the established objective(s) you have done in the first step.
  • Which type of communication works best to achieve the best results?
  • Do I have the budget and time to execute the communication strategy I have selected?

4. How long will the campaign run?

Once you’ve specified strategies for your mobile ad campaign, the next step is to decide how long it will run. These are the types of questions you should be asking.

  • Will your campaign be a one-shot action, or will it be a series of actions?
  • Will you need different types of content for the length of your marketing campaign?

The length and duration of the campaign will affect how you design it. If you want this campaign to run for an extended period, be sure to plan your advertising activities. Otherwise, customer response or the momentum of the campaign will slow to a halt.

For example, you want to run a marketing campaign for your new product launch. You have the marketing umbrella message done. Then, a series of activities planned, like roadshows, online/offline social events, TV commercials, and digital advertising. You have broken down the campaign into three sections: (1) Awareness, (2) Participation, (3) Conversion. You will need to align the ads with the activities. To achieve that, you will need three sets of creatives because each section will have its specific objective and results you want to achieve. Then, plan the ad schedule to execute timely.

5. What platform or device will you be using?

With the campaign strategy and execution planned. You will also need to consider the platform or device you want to run the ads. As mentioned above, people are living on multiple screens today. So, try to go for multiple screens—desktop, tablets, and mobile—to get the best results. It also helps to increase your brand recalls.

You will also need to decide to target your ad in mobile applications or on websites.

In-App vs. Mobile Web Ads: Which platform is better?

In the U.S., more than 80 percent of mobile users’ time is spent in native apps like Facebook, Game of War, Tumblr, and the list goes on. If you are targeting other countries besides the U.S., you might want to consider mobile web. According to Opera Mediaworks’ Q2 state of mobile advertising, mobile web ad impressions is still high in other regions.

planning mobile ad campaign: in-app vs web ad impressions

Image Credit: Opera Mediaworks

6. What are your budget and schedule?

Now that the preliminary planning phase is complete, it’s time to look at the numbers and scheduling. Ask these questions to help you determine the budget you’ll need to produce your mobile ad campaign, and how to schedule it:

  • When do you need the campaign ready to start?
  • How much money do you intend to spend on mobile media?
  • How much do you plan to spend on rich media creatives?
  • How many impressions are you planning to achieve?

7. What will you measure?

Next, you need to determine your measurement metrics. Build clear objectives and key performance indicators into your campaign from the start. If you design your mobile ad correctly, it is very easy to measure.

Mobile rich media ads can give you more than just impressions and clicks. Furthermore, the touchscreen nature of mobile devices can inflate click-through rate (CTR) results as it may include up to 40% accidental clicks or taps (source:

Additionally, initial click activities do not adequately measure post-click engagements. It does not measure secondary actions that occur following the click, which will show you deeper engagement and intent.

So you need to think beyond CTR. Think about real business results or look for an integrated solution. There are many vendors you can engage with for integrated solutions such as They provide comprehensive analytics for mobile marketing.

The best metrics for mobile ads, by far, are secondary action rates (SAR) and store visitation lift (SVL). It gives you better insights into your ad execution tactics and your users’ behavior through SAR and purchase intent through SVL.

Here are some of the secondary actions tactics to compel deeper user engagement.

  • Easy tap-to-call for quick access to customer services like appointment or inquiry
  • Access to map and driving directions to store location
  • A simple tap to landing page after a video for a complete user buying journey
  • Targeted product listing based on users’ product viewing history

Essentially, SAR enables you to build impactful campaigns to drive more awareness, deeper engagement, and high conversions like in-store traffic and sales.

Based on a study by xAd, they have released performance benchmarks for CTR, SAR, and SVL for the three most impacted verticals.

performance metrics for mobile ad campaign: CTR, SAR, and SVL

Image credit:

Additional Resources:
What is a Mobile Ad Server & Why Would You Need It
How to Create HTML5 Animated Ads
What is a DSP and How Does it Work

Third Step — Develop Content and Production

8. How will you design your mobile ad?

Now, we’ve reached one of the most critical parts of your planning phase. Designing and developing a creative that aligns with your campaign objective is critical to achieving the results you want.

Here are some best practices to follow.

  • Use high-resolution graphics to capture the attention of mobile consumers and drive impressions for more clicks. This will lead to higher secondary actions and increase your chances to achieve your campaign goals. This is crucial especially for interstitial and rich media banners.
  • Create clear, concise and compelling content to capture mobile audiences’ attention. Mobile screens are small, unlike its counterpart, desktop. Simple and clean content helps user to focus on the important elements.
  • Use clear and compelling call-to-action (CTA), such as “Tap to view”. Do high contrast and larger button so the visibility is greater for more engagement.
  • Optimize your landing page specifically for the campaign. Landing pages with clear calls to action are critical in driving conversions. Integrate tracking into landing pages to measure consumer secondary actions.
  • Minimise touchpoints on the consumer’s journey to purchase. Ideally, apply less than 3 touch events that end with user purchase or payment.
  • Engaging content that promotes touch and swipes like videos or playbook drive higher conversion rates. It gives better consumer experience. With better engagement it drives more secondary actions.
  • Consider haptic feedbacks to increase user experience and drive higher secondary actions. Getting little vibration after a user touch or swipe on specific element provide engaging consumer experience.
  • Encourage consumer participation such as do a quiz and share the results, share purchase/product experience on social media platforms, and many others. Participation will increase your brand/campaign awareness.
  • Include online/real life store experience with product information. It is proven that consumers have higher confidence in your product when there are feedbacks from other users (be it positive or negative). It is even higher if the reviews are positive feedback.
  • Increase your campaign relevancy by using location to find and build the right audience for your campaign (hyper-local targeting). Reach consumers based on multiple data points or by the type of content they consume, language, age or gender, and (DCO or programmatic creative).
  • Offer discounts and promotions to create consumer intent and increase secondary action rate by giving reasons to purchase.

9. Which ad format will you use?

With a clear design and development plan, you will need to select an ad format that works best for your objective. There is no such thing as the best ad format but only best ad format for achieving specific results.

  • Standard banners / Rich Media Banners should be sharp, clean and compelling to encourage mobile users to click. The design must have subtle eye-catching yet not too distracting content. Highlight key features or offerings with a clear, concise call to action. Avoid bright colors, too much text or mediocre graphics.

mobile ad format banner

mobile ad format banner

mobile ad format banner

  • Rich media banners are interactive ads that drive higher engagement. Rich media ads come in various types and sizes, such as full-page interstitials, video and expandable banners. They are customizable and can have multiple CTA.
    • Interstitials are full-screen ads that take over a mobile user’s screen. Size does matter when it comes to mobile ads. Hence, interstitial banners tend to drive more views and higher CTR.
    • Video Ads or Videostitials are banners or interstitials with video. Short videos that are less than 15 seconds can be exceedingly compelling to drive engagements. The video should include enticing screen grab in the beginning and clear CTA at the end.
    • Expandable banner is viewed as a combination of a standard banner and an interstitial in one ad. It is a high-impact strategy to overcome banner blindness. It gives less intrusive experience as the expansion appears right on the app itself, rather than bringing users to a landing page.

mobile ad format video ads

  • Dynamic banners are mainly used for site retargeting but are also used for contextual personalization and continuous optimization. It can drive in-store traffic by displaying the nearest store location and displaying the realtime distance from each individual consumer. Dynamic banners are very effective for geo-conquesting: driving foot traffic away from competitor locations to your store.
  • Native ads match the form and function of the platform on which it appears by mimicking the content space around them. Users treat the ads as a new content in their information flow, thus driving higher user engagement and CTR.

To read more, you can check out our article on the 

Additional Resources:
Rich Media Ad Examples & Ideas
Best Mobile Ad Formats & Sizes for Your Display Ad Campaigns.
How to Create HTML5 Animated Ads

10. What’s your production strategy?

We’ve reached the end of your planning stage. It’s almost time to execute your production. However, the last and most crucial step is how will you execute your plan. There are a few things to consider, here are some questions to get you going.

  • Do you have the capacity to build the ad in-house?
  • Do you plan to engage a third-party vendor?
  • How do you evaluate a fitting rich media vendor?

Here are some production options you can find in one of our blog articles on ways to get HTML5 ads.

  • Engage HTML5 rich media vendors. Outsourcing your creative production is one of the most common practice. You don’t have to worry about MRAID, VAST & VPAID and many other mobile ad operations. The vendor will take care of these for you. Just know the general details and ask the right questions to evaluate the 3rd party vendor.
  • Hire HTML5 ad developers. Unless you have an experienced operator and designers in-house, do not just hire ad developers. You will end up spending lots of time and effort in getting your operations right.
  • Get a self-serve HTML5 ad builder. Usually, mid-to-large agencies with the capacity to build a campaign in-house will go for a self-serve platform. All they need is just the right ad creator, and some in-house designers to work on the production.

Questions you may ask to evaluate rich media third-party vendors.

  • What kind of creative capacity do they offer, video and HTML5 formats?
  • Are the ad formats compliant with industry standards that can run across major traffic sources? i.e. MRAID, VAST/VPAID
  • Are the ad and ad tags platform-agnostic and device-agnostic?
  • What kind of groundwork do they usually execute?
  • Do they test their ad tags and check for disparities with the supply traffic sources, DSPs, and ad exchanges you are working with?
  • How do they manage discrepancies?
  • What are their tracking capabilities?
  • Do they have integrated workflows, such as ad serving and reporting services? If no, what type of integrated solution do they offer?
  • Do they have legacy support or solution in place for platform and devices that do not support rich media?
  • Are there any audience or creative targeting features?
  • What kind of technical support do they offer?
  • What is the lead time?
  • What are the ad serving fees involved? Other hidden costs?

Additional Resources:
How to Create HTML5 Animated Ads
Create Rich Media Ads with’s Ad Builder

Fourth Step — Execute and Measure Your Campaign

11. Test Your Ad

Remember to fully test your mobile ad campaign before running it at full force. Here are a few things to look out for when you test the ad.

  • Are all your rich media elements rendered and displayed properly?
  • Have you run a quality check on the graphics and content?
  • Are all the events tracked correctly and are capturing data?
  • Are the planned features and links working as expected?
  • Have you run a cycle of user experience check?
  • How long does it take for each element to load or the video to play?
  • Did you test the ad in a real environment instead of test app?

12. Measure and Optimize Your Next Campaign

With the measurements you’ve collected, you can know the success of the mobile ad campaign you have thoughtfully planned.

With the collected the data, you can also use it for your next campaign. You can build and optimize your next ad for the same target audience, or perform retargeting on a specific group of the target audience based on their secondary actions.

The Bottom Line: Mobile ad campaign can be very powerful. It connects you to your customers through a medium that is always on; it is always available, and it is very personal. Moreover, implementing a mobile ad using rich media components can easily turn prospective customers into sales. Your prospective consumers are living lives on mobile, making it easier than ever for you to reach out to them. Why not implement a mobile ad for your next campaign?

Additional Resources:
What Is Viewability & Why Is It Important For Advertising Campaigns
– How to Measure Viewability Using MobileAds’ Audit Tool
How to Identify Bad Inventories in Display Ad Campaigns

Tip: If you are an SMB or have multiple outlets in many locations, an Online-to-Offline (O2O) platform solution can be a perfect extension of your mobile ad campaign. By offering coupons or product samples to drive foot traffic to stores, retailers can track and attribute different marketing channels to the success of the campaign

If you wish to evaluate us as a third-party rich media vendor or mobile advertising solution for your next project, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].


Alvin is the Founder and CEO of He is a go-getter, and adventurous guy who believes in working smart to gain success in his business ventures and in life. He also founded and

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