Mobile advertising is a prized marketing tool, but when mobile phones were first introduced, it was not even on the radar. In 1973, Martin Cooper, then a senior engineer at Motorola, made a phone call to a rival company and informed them he was speaking from a mobile phone. He changed how we communicate forever with that one phone call.

A decade later, in 1983, Motorola released its first commercial mobile phone for $4,000 a unit. If people think flagship phones are expensive now, they should have tried owning a one then! In less than 30 years, mobile communication has become the center of every technological innovation. With the advent of smartphones in the early 2000s, a persistent and reliable online presence became a must-have item.

The business models of telecommunications companies have now changed as the internet has become center-stage. Telecommunications companies are now, in effect, Internet Service Providers. In 2019 Statista estimates that there are 4.68 billion mobile phones worldwide, 2.5 billion of them smartphones. Apps like Messenger, Viber, Telegram, and WhatsApp allow users to make free calls. Even the lowest earners can now afford to stay in touch cheaply.

With so many people connected to the internet at every given moment, advertising to them has become very lucrative. Initially, advertising was only possible through browsers, but apps now lead the way. Mobile advertising provides real-time results as prospects can immediately contact the advertiser if they are interested in the products and services. These are just the basics.


More advanced apps exploit the GPS systems on smartphones to provide geo-tagged promotions. Geofencing allows advertisers to offer coupons, notifications and more to users within a certain radius. Malls and other big stores use this feature to give exclusive deals to their walk-in clients. Navigational apps like Waze have this feature enabled to advertise enrolled businesses like restaurants.

Geofencing is a very dynamic feature that’s only possible because of smartphones. It saves a lot of money and directs the messages to only people who are most likely to need it. Results are in real-time, and the ads can be updated anytime. Billboards do not offer this level of flexibility.

User Behavior Enables Mobile Advertising

Group of multicultural friends using smartphone outdoors - People hands addicted by mobile smart phone - Technology concept with connected men and women

With so many people connected to the internet at every given moment, advertising to them has become very lucrative.

Mobile connectivity provides a lot of information about the people using the devices. Research shows we spend about 5 hours each day staring at our smartphones. Through the course of one day, we check our mobile phones at least 85 times. We develop these habits because of the constant barrage of notifications, calls, and messages. Advertisers use cookies embedded in apps and websites to track what we do online. We provided limited data that they can use to craft highly targeted campaigns.

There is a lot of contention about this. Privacy groups feel this is an overreach by app developers and advertising firms. The EU has introduced new privacy regulations that have shed more light on the subject, and provided more transparency to users. Data sharing is still necessary for the mobile connectivity market to survive. What is needed are safeguards to prevent abuse.

5G and The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is at the center stage of the 5G revolution. Tech companies are doing everything to make the internet of things a reality. Their goal is to connect our homes, cars and everything in between to the internet. With 5G connectivity and IoT, you’ll be able to control everything in your home or office right from your smartphone. That is the level of control and accessibility that 5G is set to offer.

Your fridge will be able to know when you’re running out of milk and can order on your behalf. Sounds like sci-fi, but it’s already in testing today. Advertisers can promote their products in more relevant ways and only show their ads when their product is needed.

Printers will be able to order paper when they run out, and the washing machine will report when it’s done doing your laundry. Advertisers can then show their ads as choices when these items need replenishment.

Big Data is a driver of change. The most successful apps of 2019 will be ones that take focus on this. Everything this year is about connectivity, security, and personalization.

The advertising industry would be very different today without smartphones. Television, print, and radio would still be the standard bearers; and all of them are one-way communication channels. The whole world is at your fingertips on a smartphone. Mobile advertising is here to stay and will only get better.

Do you have an idea for a creative app that utilizes Big Data? Make it today on Andromo. Sign up for your free account.

Mwenge Ngona

Mwenge Ngona

Head of Marketing at Andromo. Without marketing, we would never know anything about anything. Think about that. We'd be missing out on life!