Sorry, but I have to say it: the mobile advertising industry is getting more complicated by the minute, and it may be time (yet again) to rethink your mobile ad strategy.

If only we could go back to when simple radio and print advertisements were the norm; it was so much easier for a brand to reach its intended audience then, right?

Well, not so fast.

While ads that targeted broader audiences were once the go-to advertising tactic for many marketers, this content targeting method of reaching key consumers is seriously outdated due to new advancements in mobile ad tech.

Yes, content targeting once ruled the advertising world, but statistics show that both interest and investment in mobile audience targeting continues to rise. This means it may be high time  for your brand to pass the mobile ad crown to the new kid on the block.

But is mobile audience targeting really a more effective way in which to reach your intended audience? Should you still use content targeting tactics, too? Only your budget and analysis of your ad campaigns can tell you for sure, but the following information may help you choose the best course of action.

Content Targeting vs. Mobile Audience Targeting

What is Content Targeting?

Content targeting was once the marketing strategy of choice for every marketer – and for good reason.

Back in the era when radio, television, newspapers and printed magazines were prime sources of entertainment, it was quite an effective way for advertisers to target practically any type of consumer. Even as technology evolved and consumers began looking to their mobile devices as a means for entertainment, content targeting was still at the forefront of marketers’ minds.

In the mobile world, content targeting is the term for placing ads on specific mobile apps and websites.

The idea behind this mobile advertising strategy is that people who fall into certain demographics are likely viewing these particular pieces of content. For example, a young mother to a toddler will likely be an avid reader of an online parenting magazine. Thus, advertisers will place ads on the parenting site that target not only this mother, but other consumers like her.

So, does content targeting still work? In theory, maybe. But there are cons to this mobile marketing strategy. Let’s take a closer look.

The Cons of Content Targeting

It’s a Blind Sell

For many years, content targeting was the way to advertise. Digital advertising was display-based, and could technically be described as one-to-many. Advertisers would sign IOs (insertion orders) with huge Internet publishers like or and buy placements within these media channels to advertise to groups of people who would likely be interested in the publisher’s content.

While this method of advertising could potentially reach a brand’s intended audience, the ads they were running on certain sites and apps were also broadcasting to anyone who was viewing the content – even if they fell far outside a brand’s target demographic.

It Comes at a Cost

One-to-many targeting may be designed to reach a larger group of people (including channels like television, billboards, and radio), but this method also creates a lot of waste. This is because one-to-many targeting comes at a high cost in terms of not only your advertising budget, but the sheer fact that the right people may not be seeing your ads. So, you could be blowing a whole lot of cash.

But while that ad for discount designer handbags you’ve placed on a parenting lifestyle site may in fact entice a woman in her 20s to click, it will also fall upon blind eyes and deaf ears. Because, yes, even a guy’s guy reads parenting magazines from time to time, and let’s face it: he doesn’t care about handbags or what’s hot in women’s fashion.

All of this means that if you’re still using content-based targeting methods on mobile, you likely aren’t speaking to the right audience, and are limiting your reach to other relevant buyers.

And that’s where mobile audience targeting comes in.

What is Mobile Audience Targeting?

Mobile audience targeting is the new way of targeting your brand’s key consumers by relying on data points about mobile users in order to deliver relevant ads to them – no matter what site or app they’re using.

The Pros of Mobile Audience Targeting

It’s Ultra-Specific

As desktop technology evolved into mobile technology, mobile ad tech companies gained the ability of audience targeting. The audience targeting method uses underlying data about an individual person, or, to be specific, their deviceID which can include certain demographic information and even geographic location for more effective and engaging ads.

This advancement in mobile ad tech allows advertisers to be ultra-specific about a type of consumer they’re attempting to reach. This is called one-to-one targeting, and much more effective than one-to-many targeting because this strategy reaches an individual person with an individual message.

It’s Contextual

While one-to-one targeting doesn’t offer quite as much scale that content targeting offers, it is a much more precise way to reach relevant consumers and targets exactly the kind of people mobile ad companies want with a message tailored to an individual; whether a young mother is reading articles on a parenting site, playing Bubblewitch Saga or catching up on world news.

In a recent auto campaign, we went head to head with some of the top automotive content providers. Employing audience targeting, we were able to direct consumers to act on our client’s KPIs at a fraction of the cost our client expected.

In short, mobile audience targeting offers a huge advantage over content targeting, and this is why many more brands are adopting mobile targeting methods over content targeting.

With more and more ad dollars quickly shifting from desktop to mobile advertising, interest in mobile ad targeting isn’t showing signs of slowing down. It also isn’t the only thing that is changing how you’re spending your advertising dollars. Stay ahead of your competitors by downloading our free mobile advertising 101 guide and discover what mobile ad targeting and other mobile ad solutions can do for your brand.