Smartphone use to spur mobile health advertising

Hospitals still kicking the tires on mobile advertising could be falling behind, according to a story published this week in New York Times. The article makes the connection between the fast-growing contingent of young adult mobile users, and their willingness to accept mobile ad messages.

But they may already be behind the trend, too. Auto companies and packaged goods makers spent $3 billion online in 2011, with nearly 30 percent of that ($818 million) in mobile advertising, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers data, Times reports. And IT heavyweights like Google and Android ramped up their mobile advertising in 2011 and netted major revenue gains as a result, according to a story at Mobiledia.

Healthcare ads, on the other hand, made up only 1 percent of the online display ads calculated by online research firm ComScore.

There are differences in opinion about what should be considered advertising in mobile channels. Many online ads now are aimed at seniors, or older adults with significant health concerns. And older users typically search online for problems like heart attacks, gastroenteritis, gout and shingles, according to the Times. Younger users, though, are more likely to be found searching for pregnancy, herpes and HIV issues.

Where healthcare companies' mobile ads may have a bit of an edge is in security. As the industry moves more slowly into the online world, it has security and privacy concerns squarely in its crosshairs, and that may soothe the privacy concerns that many mobile users have recently begun to express.

Ad agency Heartbeat Ideas encourages its healthcare clients to put as much into mobile advertising as they can, according to the Times.

"The return on investment is much higher than radio or TV," media director Lee Slovitt told the Times. "If searchers are actively looking for information on a given condition or a specific drug, they are much more likely to respond to a commercial message."

To learn more:
- read the New York Times story
- check out Mobiledia's take on mobile ads