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Stay on Top of Mobile Advertising

As more people connect to global networks via their mobile phones, the ability to reach potential customers at almost any time grows exponentially.

Since its release in 1978, the mobile phone has become more of a dependency than a convenience. With its wild growth, new techniques to market and advertise replace the older archaic methods, while the underlying needs of advertising remain the same.

Here's how entrepreneurs can adapt to this new environment and some of the trends emerging within it.

Tapping the Mobile Market
Mobile marketing and mobile advertising mean sending spam-free, personalized marketing messages to receptive consumers through their mobile phones or handheld devices.

Direct-mail marketing is now seen as a marketing alternative, used mainly for targeted campaigns. Recording devices like TIVO can now remove advertisements from view. Newspapers are becoming a thing of the past. Websites that were leveraged in the past five years now require mobile capability. It's clear that things have changed and are continuing to change.

"Advertising trends seem to stagnate behind technology as mobile devices become increasingly sophisticated," says Shane Norman, head of interactive sales and marketing at Fox Television. "Marketers . . . must be as vigilant as software developers and create or discover compelling and creative ways to embrace [customers]."

For this reason, many tech-savvy entrepreneurs now use .mobi websites to provide the correct (and viewable) content to mobile phone users.

Mobilemo provides mobile-based web designs and layouts, and it connects its clients to the mobile market. Web marketing visionaries know that customers judge a company's professionalism by its ability to embrace and stay up-to-date with technology. '

Larger companies may hire someone to deploy mobile versions, while smaller firms may outsource this function. Whether you choose to outsource the mobilizing of your website to a firm, or attempt to do it yourself, consider the following:

Your current website may already be mobile-ready.
If your website is coded in HTML, the mobile device will have little to no problem viewing content if it's organized properly. If your website goes beyond HTML coding, you'll need a provider that enables server-side filtering to control what mobile users receive on their handhelds.

Graphics can be filtered when a mobile device requests a web page on your site. You can also mirror your current website to a new URL, then use scripted code to parse out what the mobile device can't use or render correctly. There are options to use your preexisting content in the state it's currently in with few or little changes.

Create a secondary website for mobile users.
If your website doesn't cater to mobile phones, change it or create a new one. For example, you may have a website that's built with Adobe's Flash. Because most mobile devices can't render Flash, mirror (or duplicate) your site using HTML so your mobile users can view it correctly. Consider a functional site over a graphical one. Some service plans charge for content downloads such as pictures and other graphics.

Find a provider that will mobilize your site.
If you don't have the time to create your own mobilized site, try hosting your website or .mobi site with a provider that can help you build your site, provide guidance or give you the tools to find the help you need on your own. The provider will also know the correct formats and design rules that apply to creating mobile web pages.

Note that there's room for growth in this field. A lack of existing technology makes it difficult to create robust websites for mobile phones. Until technology catches up or new services become available, mobile sites will be fairly lackluster. And because few mobile marketing firms exist today, creating mobile-friendly websites is an opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Robert Shimonski is a digital media expert who has helped build and develop media packages for thousands of companies worldwide, including Microsoft, Elsevier, Wiley and Syngress. He helps startup companies break into Web 2.0 and currently resides in New York.

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