Research tells us that 3.9 billion people are now online, and we know that more than half of overall web traffic comes from mobile. Today’s consumers are on mobile more than any other platform and that isn’t going to change any time soon. The World Advertising Research Center recently predicted that almost three quarters (72.6%) of internet users will access the web solely via their smartphones by 2025, equivalent to nearly 3.7 billion people. They will also have access to faster, higher-spec handsets making being online via mobile even more attractive.

As we move over to mobile and our devices become more advanced – and therefore a more seamless part of our lives – it’s clear that what happens next in mobile is what happens next in advertising. So what should advertisers take note of from the mobile space?

Smartphones everywhere

Once, top-of-the-range smartphones ruled all, and fewer people could access that level of advanced technology. Today, it’s possible to purchase a smartphone with high functionality, speed, and storage for a far lower price point. While consumers with higher disposable incomes might opt for the latest – a foldable phone, perhaps – a far wider pool of people is now able to own smartphone thanks to the widening of the competitive space.

This means two key things for advertisers: firstly, matching the message to the medium. It’s critical to match not just content but format to the moment. This doesn’t mean no creativity, no visuals, and no video. In fact, these are essential. It just means the right format, used well. With innovation in foldable screens and gesture-controlled handsets, the creative possibilities are exploding.

Research has shown that action-packed ads perform much better in terms of ad recall and brand awareness than text ads alone, but time is at a premium on mobile so the message has a matter of seconds to get across. Critical factors in mobile bumper ads are product shots, simple messages, minimal text, and entertainment.

Secondly, these machines are fast. They load quickly, and consumers will expect that experience to be replicated across the sites they visit. If you’re an advertiser driving people to a landing page, and that landing page takes more than three seconds to load, you’ll lose 53% of your audience. This isn’t a developer problem – it’s a marketing problem. Every stage of the consumer journey needs to be accounted for by marketers, as is making the case to the c-suite that mobile matters for the bottom line.

Mobile is driving offline activity

Bricks and mortar and mobile aren’t separate entities, and advertisers need to think about how mobile plays into a wider story, with people searching and watching videos on the go and even in-store on their phones – perhaps trying to find the best deal or most relevant product. Mobile is therefore taken beyond the commute and into a key part of every shopper journey.

According to data from Google, shoppers turn to search before heading to the shops when they don’t have a product or brand in mind. Mobile searches for “__ brands” are rising, as in “sock brands” (+150%), “men’s watch brands” (+70%), “makeup brands” (+150%). They’re also looking for helpful recommendations on what to buy searches for reviews on mobile have increased by more than 35% over the past two years.

Once they’ve narrowed their product or service choice down to a few options, people search on mobile to help make a final decision, researching a purchase they plan to make in-store or to find the best option for their needs. And people want their answers to come naturally: almost 70% of queries to Google assistant are made in natural language – that is, people speaking in full sentences as opposed to the keyword searches we type into a search box. Advertisers need to diversify beyond advertising against keywords when the question is more likely to be ‘where can I fill up my car’ than ‘nearest petrol station’.

It doesn’t stop at search, either – 50% of shoppers say they use online video while shopping in stores. Understanding these moments and targeting your search, display and video advertising to ensure it’s relevant and appearing at the best time will help build an overall customer experience that matches up to what the customer expects, as well as being an effective way to drive sales.

Advertising on mobile isn’t restrictive. It’s far more than a desktop afterthought, a last chance attempt before potential customers get to point of sale. It gives advertisers the opportunity to be hyper-targeted and in the moment, where they can entertain, tease and entice. Innovations in screen technology, data speed, and software capability will mean there is the potential to do so much more. Provided marketers can stick to good mobile discipline, the possibilities will truly be endless.