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POV - Updated MMA Mobile Ad Unit Guidelines

Date: March 6, 2012
Analyst: Brett Marvel, Senior Media Planner and Ellen McMonigle, Communications Planning Supervisor
Subject: Impact of MMA Updated Mobile Ad Unit Guidelines and Recommendations for Client Action

Background:The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) recently released an updated set of global mobile advertising unit guidelines. The intentions of these guidelines are to simplify the creation, planning, buying, selling and reporting of mobile display ad units for smartphones, feature phones and tablets. The guidelines were not inclusive of mobile video and mobile rich media. This POV evaluates the updated guidelines and highlighted the most relevant points specific to HCP- and consumer-targeted media.

Industry Implications:Over 80% of physicians now own a smartphone, 52% of those physicians are iPhone owners and 18% are Android device owners. Physician tablet adoption is close to 40%1. Approximately 54 million consumers own tablets2 and 35% of Americans adults own a smartphone3. Mobile advertising spending is expected to rise by 40% in 2013 and another 30-34% in 2014 and 20154.

Smartphones and Feature Phones

•The MMA has agreed to a set of six ad units as the standard sizes (Figure 1) for smartphones and feature phones.
•Most publishers and mobile networks in the HCP space are primarily leveraging iOS or Android smartphone systems for ad opportunities. The 320×50 is emerging as the predominant ad unit.
•Depending on the mobile device, pixel density may be scaled up/down for the ad unit (e.g., the 300×50 banner gets scaled up to 600×100 on an iPhone4 with higher resolution).
1 Manhattan Research, Taking the Pulse v11.0
2 Online Publishers Association, 2011
3 Pew, 2011
4 eMarketer, Sep 2011



  • As an initial guidance, the MMA has also agreed to a set of nine ad units as the standard sizes (Figure 1) for tablets.
  • Most publishers in the HCP space are primarily offering the 728×90 ad unit.
  • The 1024×768 full screen as unit is gaining traction as Apple’s iPad continues to dominate the market among HCPs. More publishers are launching iPad editions of their publications, with nearly all consumer publications offering feature-rich tablet versions, and iPad versions of notable HCP-focused journals including the New England Journal of Medicine and MD Magazine.
  • The full screen ad unit provides the most real estate and flexibility for black-box products looking to expand a campaign onto the tablet platform. The full screen ad can be built similar to a journal ad in that there are multiple pages to swipe (see Figure 2).


Given the rise in popularity of mobile across consumer and prescriber audiences, we recommend all clients stay open to mobile opportunities. Whether smartphone or tablet platforms are being considered for an ad campaign, it is important to make sure the message is being communicated in the best way possible relative to the completely immersive experience a user gets on the mobile device. While there may be limitations between different publishers, the technology behind these platforms will often offer opportunities to include unique calls-to-action such as embedded video and click-to-call.

It’s important to note that many opportunities exist and should be evaluated for our clients that go beyond mobile journals and consumer print publications.  This includes consumer messaging in apps and mobile web placements through well-established consumer sites such as weather.com, Pandora and WebMD.

We at CMI are also paying close attention to the eventual integration of electronic health records, chronic care management and secure SMS messaging into physicians’ mobile communication systems.  Uptake in mobile will only increase the amount of overall time a physician spends interacting with their device, which may lead to other activities where they could be exposed to these ad units (reading a journal on the iPad, etc.).  We are also encouraging our supplier-partners to become familiar with these guidelines when discussing media planning and capabilities.