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Choosing the Right Tool Is Key for Mobile Advertisers

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Text messages and banners on the mobile web are the most noticeable kinds of wireless ads, according to new research from Parks Associates, but mobile video and click-to-call campaigns draw the best response from consumers. Such contradictions underscore why advertisers need to use a variety of tools as they deploy their mobile campaigns.

Text-only ads generated the highest recall rates of 11 types of mobile come-ons, with 49 percent of respondents saying they noticed such pitches all or some of the time, the market research firm said during a webcast today. Ads at the top of a mobile web page were the second-most noticeable, with 45 percent of users recalling them. Click-to-call ads fared worst, with 27 percent of people noticing them, and movie trailers were recalled by only 31 percent.

Fascinatingly, though, the least-noticed ads drew the highest response rates in Parks’ study. Movie trailers drew a 38 percent response rate, outperforming all other ad types, while 35 percent responded to click-to-call campaigns. Meanwhile, text-only ads managed to draw responses from only 26 percent of users, and ads atop web pages generated a 30 percent response rate.

Parks’ figures highlight why advertisers need to have a wide assortment of weapons in the mobile arsenal as they try to target users via their phones. Nearly every phone on the market supports text, allowing advertisers to potentially reach broad swaths of mainstream users via SMS (GigaOM Pro, sub. required), for instance, but advertisers also have a chance to engage tech-savvy consumers via mobile video and to encourage would-be customers to call them directly with click-to-call ads.

Mobile advertising has long underperformed amid excessive hype, and the space will continue to endure growing pains over the next several years. But Parks predicts the North American market is poised to take off as the economy recovers, exploding to $1.5 billion in 2013 from $208 million this year. For those figures to become reality, though, advertisers will need to employ a number of tactics — and pick the right ones based on what they’re trying to sell and who they’re trying to reach.