What will the future of mobile advertising look like?

If you have experience with display ad campaigns for desktop computers, and you’ve been doing them for a while, you may find yourself tempted to replicate the ads you’ve done in the past when it comes to mobile. But you stand to gain a lot from getting to know the mobile platforms and the unique challenges and opportunities they offer.

Think about this: Unlike any other advertising medium, mobile technology is the platform people tend to carry around with them every waking minute of the day. It’s the platform people turn to several times an hour, all day long. And trust me—they probably love their Droid (or iPhone, or Galaxy, or Blackberry) more than they love the computer on their desk. Mobile retail revenue in the United States is expected to hit $12 billion in 2013, a 62 percent year-over-year increase. Are you ready?

Now you see why we, as advertisers and marketing innovators, have to think beyond the desktop display ad. We have to create an experience for the viewer that translates well across the wide range of Internet-connected devices.

And how do we make digital advertising more integrated across these devices? How do we manage our advertising product development efforts to make sure we deliver a consistent message from the billboard to the side of the city bus to the magazine spread to the iPhone screen?

1. Attribute across channels. Reporting on performance across channels, including all forms of display ads, is one of the secrets to masterful marketing. Establish customized tiers and weights for each channel you’re working to attribute credit for every customer touchpoint across your digital media channels. Then you can get a feel for what’s really working and, in turn, make smart campaign and budgeting decisions going forward. And although we’re talking about smartphones here, don’t forget the growing tablet market—and don’t make the mistake of treating your tablet campaigns exactly the same way you treat your smartphone campaigns.

2. Focus on mobile’s strengths, not its weakness. When you’re creating ads for mobile devices, don’t dwell on the small screen sizes. Sure, you aren’t working with the side of the Goodyear blimp here, but smartphone technologies have plenty of features that a savvy marketer can exploit to his clients’ benefit. What are these features, exactly? What can a tiny little mobile phone ad do that a big banner display on a desktop PC or Mac do?

For one thing, you can use geo targeting to read where your customers are. The expansion of location-based marketing is going to be the big news in mobile marketing in 2013. Everything is going local and hyper-local. Tailor the user experience based on location and you’ll take a “ho hum” ad and turn it into a real-time, give-and-take, relationship-building experience.

You can even serve ads that know what direction the person is going and how fast they’re going. What can you do with data like that? Well, that’s up to you to figure out. How about an ad that says “Joe’s Burger Shack is a mile ahead on your right—are you hungry?” Whatever the message, rest assured—marketers who know what to do with this information will be the ones who do well in 2013 and beyond.

3. Give users control of their data. Ads that take mobile technology data into account will get responses that traditional display advertisers can only dream about. But part of the solution will require giving consumers control over how their personal data is used. Don’t hit them over the head with this data or you’ll look like a stalker. Give them some options and you’ll build trust—and in the end you’ll get better value for your ads and the consumer will benefit by getting a customized experience tailored to his or her interests.