Making A Mobile Ad Plan

Read Time: 6 minutes

Although we’ve talked about responsive advertisements before (and keeping ads fast, and how banners work), I realized the other day that we haven’t talked about mobile ad serving. Those other topics are all tangentially related, but they’re really skirting around the bush on how you should work with mobile, whether you’re inside or outside the AdButler ecosystem.

Having a mobile plan for your ads is integral to making good advertisements. And if you don’t yet have a mobile plan, well, let’s build one together.

Where to start?

Let’s backup with two basic points:

  1. Mobile is important
  2. Mobile is becoming more important every year.

Simple, but really, really important. You know the drill: People spend more time on mobile than desktop. Ad dollars spent on mobile are growing exponentially. Mobile ads open up new avenues (like making use of sensors or location data) that wasn’t possible before. Mobile users are more sensitive to disruptive ads (like interstitials or popups) and speed. Responsive websites require more design work. Screen sizes now range from 3 inch to 30 inch.

Mobile is the reality of our industry (and really the internet), but luckily, it’s easier than ever to accommodate, especially with a good plan.

An array of different screens
We have more than two audiences, and have for a while.

What is a mobile plan? It’s a philosophy or series of ideas about how you want your mobile audience to interact with your product, whether you’re selling or buying ad space. First you’ll need to know how your audience interacts with your page, what kind of device they’re using, and how much of your audience is on mobile. Things that I can’t tell you right now, but you can start collecting that information if you don’t already have it. You’ll want to look at the situation you’re in and the environment you’re working in. Maybe you’re on a website, or launching an app, or aiming to be preroll.

Once you have a general idea about your situation, you can move onto the three key parts of the plan: targeting, deploying, and displaying. You need a way to tell if people are on mobile, a way to get ads to those people, and a way to display them without breaking everything else.

Know Your Audience

Targeting is the most flexible part today. If you like, you can just use AdButler’s built-in platform targeting to make sure the right campaigns and banners show up on the page, whether you’re aiming at desktop, mobile, tablet, or whatever. Even better, if your zone doesn’t have any mobile banners in it (say a rather wide leaderboard), AdButler won’t display anything, the zone will collapse, and no one will be the wiser.

But maybe you need more granular controls. Maybe you’ve figured out that not only do you have a heavily mobile audience, they’re evenly split between phones, tablets, and phablets. Your audience doesn’t have a mobile/desktop split. What you’re looking for is screen sizes. Luckily, every device tells you that when they visit your website, which you can pass back to AdButler as a keyword.

Without getting into the technical bits, the best breakdown for this would involve looking at a device and slotting them into their respective category (say ‘phone’, ‘tablet’, or ‘phablet’). You could then pass that category back as a keyword, and assign some banners to look for it. Those banners see it, they get served up, and you’re good to go.

Make It Look Pretty

Now we get to putting the ads on the page. AdButler has a few different zone tags and settings, and the best fit is going to depend on your use case. If you’re working with some zones that might not display a banner at all, you’ll need the asynchronous JavaScript tags for their ability to collapse down. However, if your ads are going to be responsive, you’ll need to use AdButler’s normal JavaScript tags.

What blog post would be complete without a picture of generic code?

Maybe you’ll also want to double up your zone tags (if it’s going to collapse), or use the JSON tags to build the ad units dynamically. Once again, it’s going to depend on your situation. One tip I’ll give is to keep in mind that your zones are unique on the page. They rarely interact with other zones, which means one can be JSON, one can be async, one can be plain ol’ JavaScript. That’s perfectly fine, mix and match all you want. They won’t care.

Display It

Displaying doesn’t have to be a separate topic. For most of you, you can just paste the zone tag or pass it along to your publisher and be good to go. Displaying is more of an issue if you’re building dynamic ad units, like interstitials, (which we have guides for) or working in a mobile app where you can’t paste in zone tags (which Dan wrote an article on). But don’t discount displaying, even if you can just use our tags.  

Putting It All Together

Mobile isn’t the future. Mobile is here. And although it’s easier than ever, it still takes hard work and some real time to develop a proper plan. Your audience will love you for it. Whatever you end up doing, AdButler’s here for you. Let us know in the comments below what your mobile plan is, or hit us up if you run into any roadblocks. If you succeed, we succeed.

Liam Workman


Liam is an account manager and blog king at SparkLit, the SaaS company behind AdButler and FourEyes. He loves rock climbing, hiking, coding, and being your friend.