Mobile Advertising: Jumping Off the Cliff

Photo by Flickr user 4ELEVEN Images.
A few weeks back we made the case for having a mobile strategy: at a minimum, nonprofits need to make sure their web site is mobile-friendly (if not mobile-optimized), and mobile apps might actually be worth the effort. Mobile apps can be useful as part of an engagement strategy, and mobile apps can be useful tools for creating ongoing revenue-producing transactional relationships (e.g., the type of functionality that Urban Airship offers), content subscriptions being the most obvious. But mobile advertising is another strategy that might be useful, and Gigaom thoughtfully posted a great overview of mobile advertising ins and outs.

Mobile advertising may not be an obvious choice for many nonprofits, but if you’ve got an audience, you may be able to incorporate an advertising element that offers relevant ads to your mobile app visitors but remains consistent with the vibe and feel of the app. Whereas web sites tend to be a foundational part of a nonprofit’s brand and presence, you have more latitude with mobile apps and more opportunity to to experiment. Some nonprofits have also experimented with affiliate marketing, an option marketer Chris Brogan has thoughtfully explored quite a bit.

Mobile advertising may not make sense for a lot of nonprofits, and it seems unlikely to offer any more than one more modest revenue stream, but nonprofits really do need to grapple with the limitations of the conventional holy trinity of fundraising – members, donors, and foundations – and this may be one more tool to keep in the toolbox.

If you’ve tried mobile advertising (heck, if you’ve tried a mobile strategy of any kind), we’d love to hear about it . . . what worked, what didn’t, what you would do differently?  And if you’ve thought about it but decided not to, we’d love to hear about that, too.

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