Keys, wallet, phone … still the three things we all scramble for when leaving the house each day. (In time, the mobile phone may well become the single thing we must have by our sides constantly, as the concept of mobile wallet and even as a device to enter properties/cars with, starts to formulate a kind of Minority Report future).

However, back to today, there are over 5 billion mobile connections worldwide and the mobile handset is now the most widely used technology across the globe.

And it’s still growing at a fast pace!

Every day, more of your readers are using mobile to conduct online searches, read the news, find directions using maps, watch videos and use social networking.

It also means they are constantly engaging with mobile advertising. Mobiles are very personal devices: always within your reach and always “on”/connected. And mobile advertising is fast becoming a proven channel for driving both brand engagement/interaction and response.

For instance, with the interactive experiences now possible via rich media and video, advertisements can now be so many things … be it music player, video viewer, or application downloader.

Google has constantly maintained over the past few years now that where many companies fall behind is in not optimising their Web site for the mobile screen. Newsmedia companies are as guilty as anyone.

Google’s research shows that only 21% of the world’s top advertisers have mobile-optimised landing pages. Quite rightly they pose the comparative question of what if customers came to your “normal” desktop Web site and had problems clicking on links or couldn’t see your pictures and graphics properly? You wouldn’t allow it would you? So do make sure the mobile experience on your Web site gives a positive user experience. It’s not rocket science, but something which is constantly overlooked.

Then, once you’ve created a “proper” mobile Web site experience, consider your unique selling proposition. What is it that will set yourself apart from your competitors with your structured mobile ad strategy? (And remember that word strategy, i.e. not a dabble!)

You need to entwine your news companies’ desktop advertising reach with the instant immediacy of mobile to drive direct response ad performance.

When constructing your strategy (whether it’s for your own company or your advertisers), keep in mind things such as mobile usage patterns. Mobile users are most active during lunchtime, night times and at the weekend when they’re not tied to a desktop computer. So, as your advertisers’ customers (or your readers) plan their daily lives, why not drive them to stores, events or destinations with locally targeted mobile ads?

And bear in mind that phones are rapidly becoming powerful shopping tools. Whether researching products or comparing prices, Google says that 79% of smartphone users have used their mobiles to help with shopping, and 74% of those shoppers have made a purchase on the back of the mobile activity. When it’s all thought through properly, we see powerful and convincing results.

In a separate project, Affinity Research recently measured response to a variety of interactive digital ad formats on mobile devices, including sponsored videos, photo galleries and 3-D product views.

Among users who tapped on a smart mobile screen to interact with sponsored videos:

  • 88% said they enjoyed the experience.

  • 87% said it enhanced the magazine reading experience.

  • 88% said they learned more about the product.

  • 89% now view the brand as innovative as a result.

And for photo galleries:

  • 92% said they enjoyed the experience.

  • 91% said they learned more about the product.

  • 92% said they viewed the brand as innovative as a result.

Also adding weight to the argument is Enders Analysis, who can demonstrate that mobile is emerging as a significant advertising platform. Their United Kingdom research shows that 1 in 4 smartphone users are exposed to mobile advertising.

Among the total number of smartphone users in their recent survey, 25.4% recalled seeing an ad while browsing the Internet or using an application on their devices. Traction is happening! And while the penetration for mobile advertising has not yet reached the level that it has for online display advertising, it is likely that the penetration for this will only grow as mobile advertising continues to increase and more and more advertisers incorporate it as an integral part of their marketing strategy. (Note: “integrated!”)

From a newsmedia company perspective, think through who you are targeting, what you want to achieve and ultimately, how you can bring mobile (advertising) as an integral part of your offerings to clients. It should not simply be an add-on: it has to be integrated into all we do to be effective. Only then we will see the accelerated growth of this space, the growth that the world awaits.

And finally, this week, one more figure to ponder with reference to smartphone adoption: 1 in 4 female smartphone users would rather give up their high-heel shoes than their smartphone (Google research).

Now there’s a sign of the times! Who’d have thought any woman would part with their stilettos?