In this fast-paced digital world, advertising professionals can no longer afford to focus on just mobile web advertising. This is because the production of mobile apps continues to rise and, in turn, offers marketers like you a great opportunity to reach your perfect target audience — and at the perfect times. Current research says that in-app mobile ad spend will reach $16.9 billion by 2018 because that’s where mobile users are spending much of their time.

So, are you saying that mobile web advertising is dead?

Not exactly. 

In fact, both mobile web and in-app ads can be a part of a smart mobile advertising strategy.

A better question to ask is this:

Where should I spend most of my mobile ad budget?  

Just as different mobile ad types and sizes offer their own unique advantages, mobile web and in-app advertising methods have differentiating benefits. But they also come with their own sets of drawbacks that you should take into consideration before funneling your cash into one or the other.

So, where should your brand allocate its mobile advertising dollars? The following information I’ve provided below will help you wise up to the advantages and disadvantages of mobile web and in-app advertising so you can make the smartest decision for yourself. 

Mobile Web vs. In-App Advertising

Benefits of Mobile Web Advertising

Cross-Platform Compatibility

One of the biggest advantages of the mobile web is that mobile sites can be responsive in their design. This is good for marketers because you can reach your mobile web audience across a variety of platforms using just one version of an ad.

Responsive design automatically adjusts to each device’s display capabilities — whether a customer is browsing the web on the tiniest of smartphones, or on a large tablet. This creates a better user experience for the customer, who will be more apt to click on an ad that looks like it belongs on a site, rather than something that’s bulky, clunky or doesn’t fit quite right.

Low-Cost Development & Maintenance

Because mobile web offers you the ability to maintain just one version of a site or ad, you will have less trouble when operating system updates occur, or new smartphone and tablet screen sizes and resolutions are introduced to the masses. This, in turn, can save your company money and precious time as there won’t be a need to create new ads in differentiating sizes.

Mobile Web Advertising Drawbacks

You May Not Reach Your Target Audience

One of the biggest downsides of incorporating mobile web into your advertising campaigns is that it can be more difficult to track user behavior. Because mobile websites aren’t as interwoven with customers’ devices, advertisers and publishers simply can’t leverage all of the important data about key demographics that mobile apps are able gather.

This means you may miss out on big opportunities to connect with relevant customers — especially if you are allocating a large part of your budget to mobile web.

Your Customers Could Turn a Blind Eye

No, your customers aren’t trying to ignore you. In fact, you may have created the most perfect ad ever, but if it is placed mostly on the mobile web, it may not be seen by consumers at all. This is due to not only the adoption of mobile ad blockers (419 million people worldwide now use ad blockers for the mobile web), but the sheer fact that most users’ online mobile time is being spent in-app.

Mobile In-App Advertising Advantages

Customers Will See Your Ads

In-app, you have a captive audience who will see and click on your mobile ads. Nearly 90 percent of consumers’ online mobile time is now spent using mobile apps, so making sure your ads are there for them to see is crucial to increasing ROI and reaching your mobile advertising goals.

In-app ad placement can help your brand ensure that its grabbing the attention of the perfect consumers and encouraging them to click.

Better Attribution Abilities

If you’re a marketer, you know the importance of mobile ad attribution as it can help you measure a user’s interactions within a mobile ad. Realizing this user behavior offers the ability to shape your marketing campaigns to produce more conversions and higher ROI.

While you may also be able to identify sources of traffic volume by placing ads on mobile websites, attribution is much easier in-app due to the capabilities of  Data Management Platforms (DMPs) that can collect key consumer data points found only in-app. 

Mobile Audience Targeting Options Galore

One of the biggest reasons why mobile in-app advertising works well is because your ads can be enhanced by the collection of key data signals. This is important in not only understanding the context and engagement with your ads, but offers significant opportunities to target key customers on a highly personal level.

Mobile DMPs can help you reach highly targeted audiences based on their location (where they live, where they go), what makes them tick (personal demographics), how they use their phones (context) and much more.

Mobile In-App Advertising Disadvantages

Mobile Ad Types Aren’t Created Equal

If you want the highest conversion rate possible, you have to decide which in-app mobile ad types and sizes resonate better with your target audience. While standard mobile banner ads may be the most popular due to their lower cost and larger inventory, they also have the lowest engagement rate. This is because mobile users succumb to “banner blindness” where they unconsciously resist clicking on your mobile ads as they appear at the top or bottom of their screens.

So, for your in-app ads to be the most effective, you must think about adding full-screen interstitial ads into your advertising strategy — along with video ads, banner ads and other mobile ad types.

If you know anything about marketing, you know that testing advertising strategies is key to finding the best solution for you, your brand and your clients. When it comes right down to it, mobile advertising — whether in-app or mobile web — is worth your time and investment because you’ll receive higher returns, gain better insight into your targeted audiences, and be able to reach more of the right customers.

So, where should you spend most of your mobile ad budget? In the end, that’s up to you to find out. I can’t give you all the answers, now can I?