Mobile Web vs. Mobile App: Where should you invest your marketing?

The mobile market has been a growing force in marketing investment for a while now. However, there’s been a schism of sorts in recent years. With the advent of mobile apps that are downloadable to people’s phones, businesses now have to consider whether they want to invest their marketing in mobile web, or mobile apps. Both have their pros and cons, but does one outweigh the other? Whether it be brand recognition, following the money, or playing the long game, there are many reasons to invest in one or the other. The logical thing to do then is to list the major pros and cons of both, and let your company’s unique situation decide which side to pick.


Mobile web pros

Diversity: For the time being, there are still exponentially more websites than there are apps on mobile devices. Because of this, there are many websites with untapped audiences, either because they don’t have or don’t need a mobile app to support themselves. This way, you’ll potentially reach a much more varied and diverse audience than the mobile app avenue.

There’s a standard ad format: One hurdle that in-app marketing has yet to get over is its difficulty attaining a true standard for its ad formatting. While apps rely on platform standard formats, which won’t work on every device, mobile websites have a standard format for their ads which work on every kind of device.

Mobile web cons

Ad block: Ad blocking software is getting more and more popular by the day, and doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon. And when the customer doesn’t see the ad, that means the site/video/banner creator doesn’t get any ad revenue (which is why so many professional YouTubers plead their audience to turn theirs off). It also means you miss a potential customer. Apps don’t have this problem, so there’s an obvious advantage.

Ad fraud: The biggest problem of them all, however, is ad fraud. While mobile apps barely have this problem, if at all, mobile websites are being hit hard. Neither the site nor the company being defrauded get a penny, and the scam artist typically gets away scot free.


Mobile app pros

It’s where the money is: Apps are the hot thing in the mobile market, and that’s unlikely to change any time soon. It’s where the consumer is, so if that’s your marketing strategy, apps are where you want to be.

Ads are becoming more tolerated: No one pays attention to banner ads, and ads before videos are a nuisance to most people. But apps offer marketing companies the creativity to make ads that people will love.

Mobile app cons

Brand domination: If the app you’re advertising on isn’t Youtube, Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram, you’re unlikely to see a return on your investment. Advertising on apps means allocating a portion of that advertising to one of the big five apps on the market, just to make sure that people see your brand.

Format scaling: Apps like to do things their own way, and that includes the way in which ads are formatted. While there are systems to help you out with this, you’ll have to alter the scale of your ad to some degree regardless, potentially destroying the essence of your ad.

Ultimately, which side you invest in depends on what you’re equipped to handle. If your ads can alter to the format of another app effectively, and you don’t mind shilling to five specific brands, then apps are a really good option. However, if you want to reach a more diverse audience and are ready to take on the ad frauds and ad blockers, then websites are also a potentially profitable option.


Author: Nick Cotton

Nick Cotton is Content Editor at Websites that Sell, a marketing strategy firm located in Brisbane Australia. He has been in the content writing industry for more than six years and specialises in digital marketing.