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Marketers Take Mobile Ads for a Test Drive

Facebook attracts advertisers who want to reach emerging markets
Ten percent of U.S. media consumption is done on smartphones; 1 percent of ad budgets are spent on mobile
Ten percent of U.S. media consumption is done on smartphones; 1 percent of ad budgets are spent on mobileIllustration by Owen Gildersleeve

In the next few weeks, some iPhone users will start seeing mobile ads from Samsung, one of Apple’s biggest competitors and the maker of the hit Galaxy phone. The ads will offer as much as $300 to people who trade in their Apple device for a Samsung.

The company’s strategy is just one sign of a nascent boom in mobile advertising, which to date has fallen short of expectations, in part because the limited screen real estate makes it hard to craft ads that don’t annoy users. Even as smartphones account for 10 percent of the time spent consuming media, they draw only 1 percent of advertising spending in the U.S., according to researcher EMarketer. That’s changing as more technology companies, including the social media powerhouses, create mobile ad products and woo big brands such as Target, American Express, and Coca-Cola. Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicts the mobile advertising market will surge to $18.3 billion in 2015, from $3.6 billion last year.