Pick the Right Mobile Ad Network for Your Company

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Ads on smartphones are the best way for stores to advertise their services to people actively looking for them. But the big question is where to spend your advertising dollars. If your company is looking at sheer numbers, Millenial Media’s recent report shows that Android handsets grabbed the lion’s share of mobile ad impressions at 56 percent, with Apple a distant second at 28 percent, while BlackBerry handsets saw 13 percent.

Apple iAd mobile advertising
Despite the numbers, the real question of which networks you should advertise on lies in the demographics. Apple is still a huge player, and that's reflected in the ad spending numbers. Forty-nine percent of the mobile ad spending went to Android and 41 percent to Apple.

Another stat cited is that 42 percent of Apple OS users have a household income over $100K. While a comparable stat is not cited for Android users, affluence like that is exactly what most advertisers are looking to target.

iOS Advertising Is Not for the Little Guys

When iAd was announced, it was touted as an exclusive experience, and Apple is living up to that. You have to contact Apple to get information on iAds to start with--and by contact I mean fill out a form, and they’ll get back to you. There is no phone number to call. If you have a small, local business, iAd is not the way to go. If you're at an ad agency placing a campaign for a corporation or you offer a particularly cool product, iAd is worth delving into.

Google Has Mobile Advertising for All

Google’s mobile ads are carried by both iOS and Android handsets through various apps. This is where most small businesses will have the budgets to play. Admob by Google allows you to piggyback your mobile ads onto your AdWords campaign, if you have one, and to track your metrics in the same way. Your budget can be as small or as large as you need.

Don't Forget Third-Party Mobile Ad Networks

Google Has Mobile Advertising for All
There are quite a few third-party mobile ad networks. (Millennial Media, which put together the report mentioned earlier, is one of them, but geared towards agency clients, and so out of small business territory.) MobiThinking has put together an excellent guide to third-party mobile networks if you want to go a little deeper than what Google offers.

According to the guide, if you are at the lower end of the budget scale, you would go with a "blind" network--one in which you don't know exactly where your ads appear. Google falls into this category, as do BuzzCity and inMobi, among others. Each network offers its own analytics service, which allows you to see exactly where your dollars are going and if your ads are paying off.

If you own a small, local business and seek to capitalize on mobile search, Google and the other blind networks are the best places to start. If you have a more significant budget, you’ll likely want to go to an advertising agency that has some expertise in the mobile advertising sphere rather than trying to stab in the dark on your own.

Angela West dreams of opening a Fallout-themed pub featuring wait staff with Pip-Boys. She's written for big insurance companies, small wildlife control businesses, gourmet food chains, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @angelawest.

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