Today, most people who work in advertising and marketing are focusing on mobile. This was not the case in Norway, or in the rest of the world, only three years ago.

When I started working for Dagbladet Mobile, my mission was to increase the monetisation of our mobile inventory, which at that time was small — the money and the inventory, that is.

However, all of our analytics showed a strong increase in usage every month. From Dagbladet’s perspective, we understood that more and more of our traffic would come from mobile devices. Therefore we assigned key personnel on technical, editorial, as well as the commercial side of our business.

Actually in the first quarter of this year, our mobile usage will surpass desktop usage! That’s quite interesting as Dagbladet’s desktop edition is Norway’s third-largest news site, whilst Dagbladet Mobile is Norway’s second-largest mobile news site.

Mobile display advertising gives our advertisers unique possibilities, such as simple calls to action, click to call, click to expand, click to localise, and so forth. Also, our mobile sites are less crowded in terms of ad spaces, due to the smaller screen sizes, than our desktop sites.

This makes our display advertisers stand out more on our mobile sites. There are many unique selling points here, which — coupled with the fact that our click-through ratio (CTR) is roughly six times higher on mobile vs. desktop — make it a highly interesting place to put a banner. 

In 2011, one of the first things we did was to set up meetings with most of the ad and media agencies to get their take on mobile display advertising. I quickly realised they all knew there was a tidal wave coming, but few actually focused on it.

Google’s Eric Schmidt’s famous “mobile first” quote got everyone’s attention, but few actually acted on it. Most wanted to do something, but very few of our customers had any mobile content to show.

So all campaigns had to have tailored, mobile-optimised landing pages or other content, as well as tailored banners created for the different news site where they were to run (and there were, of course, no standards, so most competitors had different formats).

All in all, it became very expensive to advertise on mobile news sites and therefore the advertisers were reluctant about going into this great space.

My conundrum was that I was trying to capitalise on very interesting inventory, which few advertisers, and ad and media agencies actually focused on. Another thing that bugged me was that it was difficult getting creative agencies to make creative banners. The will to do it was low, and the few that offered it wanted obscene amounts of money. The cost of producing the material for the campaign would supersede the distribution costs.

We therefore looked at the international market and saw that the same problems were evident across Europe. We realised if we wanted to create ad formats that would take into account many of the strengths of the mobile platform, we had to make them ourselves.

I sat down with Dagbladet’s lead designer, and we started brainstorming. He sketched up different possibilities. We then called one of our local partners to see if they could help produce these specialised banners for us.

Shortly thereafter, we produced a Web app. Initially, we used the app as an internal playground for mobile banner formats. The app showed six different mobile formats, which were all intended to generate attention, involvement, and insight.

We started using the app as an internal sales tool for our various sales teams. We quickly realised that this was a great tool for the media and ad agencies as well. So we went on a sales tour, showcasing the various formats and how our customers can utilise these formats to increase their ROI.

Our experience is that it is possible to make money on mobile display advertising. You have to be a mobile evangelist, preaching and showing what is happening in the local and national market to establish trust and insight.

By showcasing what is happening and acting as an advisor instead of pushing the quick sale, your advertiser will put more of their marketing money into the mobile channel.

By making highly specialised ad formats that no other company is offering, you have the best chance of getting in the door and showing the future to your customers.