Bradley Nickel

Online Marketing Guy |

6 min read

[CASE STUDY] How To Buy Display Traffic on Mobile: 3 Advertisers, 3 Strategies

Tired of hearing how important mobile is?

“You’ve got to have a mobile strategy!”
“You’re missing out if you’re not “on” mobile!”
“Mobile advertising spend increased by 123% in 2014 and is rapidly rising!”

Mobile is becoming more and more important, especially with paid traffic. You might be missing out on some amazing traffic if you haven’t expanded your advertising campaigns out to mobile devices.

Now, perhaps you already have a mobile strategy. However, you might not be taking advantage of the true power of Display on mobile. Having a mobile strategy and a mobile strategy that’s already proven to work are two very different things.

In today’s post…

We’ll reveal the mobile strategies of 3 different Display advertisers in 3 different niches. You’ll see their best ad networks, publishers, ad creatives, landing pages and more.

You’ll see how they’re using mobile Display traffic to grow past the $1M+ dollar mark. Plus, you’ll see how you can take their insights and implement them in your own campaigns.

Advertiser #1:

PressroomVIP is a celebrity gossip ad arbitrage site. They buy cheap traffic and make money off of ad clicks. They’re one of the largest mobile ad arbitrage advertisers at the moment, so they’re worth paying attention to.

Want to learn more about ad arbitrage on Display advertising? Check out our previous blog post: The Business of Display Part 2: Viral Quiz Sites and Click Arbitrage

Ad Spend/Networks

Ad arbitrage is all about buying low and selling high. Most sites like PressroomVIP buy ads on Native Ad networks (Outbrain, Taboola, ContentAd, etc.) and place ads from networks with large payouts like Google Adsense.


The graph above shows PressroomVIP follows this strategy to a T. They buy 90% of their traffic from Native Ad networks. Taboola, Outbrain, rev:content, ContentAd and Yahoo Gemini are all native ad networks.

Ad Creatives

PressroomVIP has tested over 5,000 different ad creatives in the past 90 days.

They’ve spent the most on these two:

Ad #1: Celebrity + Curiosity


This ad has a picture of a celebrity that most people would assume is not black. Yet, the headline states the opposite, piquing their curiosity. This ad might also be doing well because the topic of race in general is something that appears quite a bit in the news and is on everyone’s mind. The use of recent trends in your ad copy, blog posts and landing pages is a great way to get people’s attention. You’re “entering the conversation already going on inside their mind”.

Ad #2: From Innocent to Wild


The US public obsesses over celebrities who were once “innocent” but have now grown up and turned “bad”. News outlets and gossip rags are always judging former Disney stars. How many times do you see Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Selena Gomez or Lindsay Lohan criticized in the news?

Disney movies and TV shows target kids. People (falsely) assume the actors will act kid appropriate for the rest of their lives. This makes it “shocking” when a former Disney star is no longer innocent.


PressroomVIP’s publishers fit into these two categories:

1. Other magazines and celebrity gossip sites — EW and US Magazine. All content focuses on celebrities. It only makes sense for them to target similar audiences.

2. Viral news sites — PressroomVIP spends the most on is a viral news/video site like ViralNova. Any site where people go to waste time is good for advertisers promoting content related to pop culture or celebrities.

Landing Pages

The most common landing page style for ad arbitrage is the slide show; having one large picture combined with text on each page. This forces the user to click “next” to see the next item on the list. This increases page views. The more ads they see, the more likely they are to click.  They’ll also make ad revenue off of the cost of each ad impression (CPM).


All pink arrows above point to an ad. This particular page includes ads from Google Adsense and Content.Ad (The “Sponsored Stories” at the bottom below the “Start Slideshow” button).

Other viral sites use similar positions and sizes for their ads. This likely means these specific positions lead to increased ad revenue. Specifically, Adsense banners surrounding the main image and Native ads at the bottom.

Advertiser #2: LMB Insurance is a domain owned by lead generation advertiser. They use this domain for their life/auto insurance Mobile Display campaigns.

Ad Spend/Networks

LMB — like most mobile and desktop advertisers — relies mostly on Google traffic. Some of the other advertisers they use for mobile are, Direct Buys and Casale.


LMB allocates most of their spend to iPads. iPads work well on display due to the larger screen size and the fact that many people use iPads like a desktop computer. Another thing to keep in mind, is that iPads are luxury goods. People who can afford to buy iPads are more likely to have enough disposable income to buy what you’re selling.

Ad Creatives

LMB’s ads are a great example of mobile ads that are a bit “out there” but still Google compliant. These are great examples of ads that use selectors combined with strange, eye-catching images.

The hand with the fingernails growing out doesn’t have anything to do with auto or life insurance. It’s just a weird image that catches your attention and directs your eye to the selectors.

Landing Pages

LMB uses simple survey style pages. They’re easy to use on mobile and unassuming. They don’t appear to be lead generation forms.

The font, colors and picture of the woman holding the baby at the bottom make it seem friendly and fun. This lightens things up a bit as people do not associate “friendly and fun” with insurance companies.



Top 3 Publishers:


The publishers LMB uses are general entertainment sites with lots of traffic. Many of these publishers won’t work well for most advertisers because they’re too general. They work well for LMB because they have a large ad budget and their offer appeals to the mass market. Most advertisers will not have offers that appeal to the mass market.

Audible sells and produces audio books and other spoken word material. Amazon acquired them in 2008 for $300 million. They’ve grown exponentially since. They’re an excellent example of an advertiser who offers a product ideal for mobile devices. Most people listen to audio on their phones while they’re on the go.

Ad Spend/Networks

Audible allocates more of their ad spend to mobile devices than desktop.

If we compare their spend for desktop…


Versus their mobile spend…


You see they spend almost 3-4x more on mobile than desktop.

Audible relies on Google, but you’ll notice they spend a non-trivial amount with LMB also spent a large amount on This likely means’s publishers are good for advertisers who want high-quality mobile traffic.

Ad Creatives

Unlike the other two advertisers in this post, Audible is using text ads in place of visual banner ads:

audible-text-adOne reason they’re likely seeing success with these ads is the liberal use of the word “Free” and the fact that they highlight you can use their service with your tablet or smart phone, the very device the user is using to see the ad.

The takeaway from this is that no matter what business you’re in, you can test out ads that mention the ease of use on a mobile device.

If you’re advertising for a piece of SaaS software that looks good on mobile devices, you could highlight this fact in your ad. If you sell weight loss information, you could offer a free diet as an ethical bribe. Your prospect can download the diet right to their smart phone for easy access when they’re at the grocery store.

Landing Pages

Audible uses different landing pages depending on the device.

Tablet (iPad and Android) landing page:


This is a simple, no nonsense landing page. There is no clever copy (besides the “lucky you”). They just state what the user can get, the 3 steps and a large orange CTA button. Sometimes the best copy is the simplest copy.


This page is also very simple, however, they’ve added a few things to make it more iPhone friendly.

  • They’ve shortened the headline even more, taking out the “Lucky you” copy.
  • The pictures are simpler — just the front covers of a few books.
  • There’s less copy and social proof in general. You’re hit with the download button very quickly and it’s very tempting to tap if you’re looking at it on a mobile phone.

You always want to optimize user experience based on device type. Not just the size of the screen on the device, but also the mindset of the prospect as they use it.


Top 3 Publishers:


My instinct is that people who are the most interested in Audible are readers. People who like like to learn about different topics. They’re more likely to be a voracious reader, as opposed to someone who browses

Gradesaver is interesting. They provide study guides and book summaries for college students (like SparkNotes). Audible might work for their audience because many students don’t want to read books. They want a summary, or in the case of Audible, to just listen to it on tape.


There’s no doubt that if you don’t have a dedicated mobile Display strategy you’re missing out on valuable traffic. There are times when mobile traffic will convert better than desktop traffic, so be sure to test out both. The strategies above should give you an idea of what’s currently working for mobile advertisers.

Questions? Comments? Write them below — we’d love to hear them!

Bradley Nickel

Online Marketing Guy |


  1. The demo we target are Baby Boomers (for a lot of our products).

    Can you honestly see a 51 year old guy watching a 25 minute video sales letter on his smartphone with that small screen …. then purchasing the product?

    I just don’t get it???

    Anyone with experience with this.

  2. Fabulous, highly informative Post. Loved it.

    I’m now on the look-out for an affordable Mobile Marketing Course / Membership that covers up-to-date stuff like this, ideally has a it’s own Group/ Forum, and includes Free Future Updates. If you know of one, please let me know.

    Thanks again for a tremendous Post

  3. I very interesting article, as this type of concentrated targeting is a learning curve for me, and so thank you.

  4. Excellent and informative article. We are considering mobile advertising, and buy leads now from lower my bills. We were always curious as to how our leads were generated. Now, we know! Thanks.



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