Promo University

How Cell Phones Affect Business & Advertising

Alyssa Mertes

Published: July 23rd, 2020

In this day and age, advertising is all over our cell phone screens. It's no surprise, really. We've gone from just texting and calling people to basically having a mini computer in our hands. If you're a business owner, it makes sense to put your ads where people are going to see them, and in this digital world, that's right on our phones.

What's the cell phone's role in marketing? How is it affecting business? Place that call on hold – it's time to discuss the impact cell phones have on advertising and the business world!

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The cell phone's ability to spread information is fundamentally changing lives.

– Andrea C. Nakaya, author of How Do Cell Phones Affect Society?

What Can Consumers Do On Their Cell Phones?

Before you can truly understand why the cell phone is a force in the business world, you need to understand what consumers are doing with their devices. People are using their phones for more than just selfies, status updates, and cat memes. They are changing business by doing the following:

  • Paying for purchases
  • Shopping
  • Sharing posts with friends and family
Paying for Purchases

Paying for Purchases

Many banks and financial services are introducing the concept of mobile wallets, which are defined as "virtual wallets that store payment card information on a mobile device."

This payment info is stored through a downloadable app on your smartphone. It works via transfer technology (known as near-field communication), which interacts with payment terminals and successfully reads your card information. Think of it like your phone doubling as your credit card.

Most phones come with an app that makes it easy for you to access your mobile wallet.

Smart Paying Options

Apple Pay
Google Pay
Samsung Pay
  • Launched October 2016
  • Available on iPhone 6, newer iPhones, Apple Watch, MacBook Pro, and iPads
  • Supports gift cards and loyalty cards
  • Accessed via passcode, Face ID, or Touch ID
  • Receipts stored in wallet app
  • Launched in February 2018
  • Formerly known as Android Pay and Google Wallet
  • Accessed via passcode, fingerprint authentication, PIN, or pattern
  • Supports gift cards and loyalty cards
  • Available on most Android devices
  • Launched in September 2015
  • Functions with payment readers that use old magnetic stripe technology on credit and debit cards
  • Accessed via PIN, fingerprint, or iris scan
  • Available on select Samsung-made Android phones


Apple Pay
Google Pay
Samsung Pay
  • Supported by 50% of retailers
  • Available in over 20 countries
  • Each transaction has security code to prevent identity theft
  • Supported by all major banks in the U.S.
  • Users can send and receive money
  • Supported by over 1.5 million retail locations and 1,000+ banks and credit unions
  • Each transaction has security code to prevent identity theft
  • No transaction fees
  • Widely accessible in retail stores due to Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) technology
  • Each transaction has security code to prevent identity theft
  • Works at more than 350,000 retail websites


Apple Pay
Google Pay
Samsung Pay
  • Only available for Apple products
  • Works on older iPhones only with an Apple Watch
  • Might not be available at smaller banks or credit unions
  • May charge fee for quick-paying friends
  • Available on phones that already use Google Pay
  • Doesn't contain passcode option for access
  • Doesn't work at gas stations or ATMs
  • Stripe can sometimes be difficult to activate
  • Only available for Android users
  • Available in only a few countries
  • Transaction begins when you're in close proximity to an NFC (near-field communication) terminal

To date, about 90 million Americans are using these services to pay for their purchases. Some banks, credit unions, and stores also have their own mobile wallet apps, such as Chase Pay and Walmart Pay.

Overall, it's a technology that's becoming more and more popular. If your business supports this payment method, you should definitely make it known in your advertising.

Shopping 'Til They Drop

Shopping 'Til They Drop

Consumer buying habits are being affected by the ease of ordering online with a cell phone. It's super easy to hop on your phone and get anything under the sun delivered to your house, from clothes and electronics to groceries and singing telegrams.

In 2015, Lee Hao Suan Samuel and colleagues from Taylor's Business School published a study in The Journal of Internet Commerce about online shopping. The team wanted to see how the user experience affects a customer's shopping decisions. In gathering their data, they followed the conceptual framework pictured below.


A total of 148 respondents completed an online survey answering a few questions about their shopping habits. The survey contained questions about the website's visual appearance, the person's feelings about shopping, how much they trusted the site, and their overall purchase intentions.

It was found that "online experience influences purchase intentions directly and indirectly through trust." Male shoppers were more inclined to trust a website if they had a good online experience vs. females. Interestingly enough, though, trust had a greater impact on purchase intentions for females than males. In other words, men are more likely to trust a website with a good user experience, but women are more likely to actually make the purchase.

As a business owner, it's important to keep everyone in mind when creating your website, especially for mobile since that's where many people are doing their shopping. In fact, about 200 million people shopped from their phones in the United States in 2018. A good mobile website could mean all the difference between someone shopping with you or going to a competitor instead.

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By focusing on shopping experience, online retailers may attract more customers to visit the online shopping website, to browse products online, and ultimately increase online sales.

– Lee Hao Suan Samuel, author for The Journal of Internet Commerce

Sharing With Friends & Family

Sharing With Friends & Family

The cell phone helps us connect with more than just our family and friends. We can also build a relationship with a business by following them on social media, checking out reviews, and keeping track of trending news.

If the company gets our attention in a positive way, it only takes the click of a button to spread the message. When the deal is good enough, or the business is offering something unique, it could easily become a trending sensation. A business's ad can be sent through text messages, emails, or social media posts, all from a person's phone. From there, it's a domino effect of people sharing the content over and over again.

This is important as 35% of people share content because they want to influence others and a majority of them accomplish that goal. Not to mention, a staggering 83% of people trust the recommendation of friends and family above anything else. Word-of-mouth is incredibly important, so make sure your business is worthy of being shared on mobile.

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The capacity to have all information at our fingertips may be a more profound benefit of the cell phone than the opportunity it provides to converse with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

– Paul Levinson, author of The Story of the World's Most Mobile Medium and How It Has Transformed Everything!

Where Can You Advertise?

As you can see, people are spending a crazy amount of time on their cell phones. They are making purchases with mobile wallets, shopping online, and sharing interesting content. People are looking at their phones all the time, so it only makes sense to get their attention by advertising on popular apps and services.

These platforms offer that opportunity:

  • Social media sites like Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
  • Google
  • YouTube
  • Spotify
  • Other apps
Social Media

Social Media

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat offer a unique opportunity for business owners. Each of these mediums has some kind of business center, which makes it easy to target audiences, offer coupons, sponsor posts, and engage directly with customers.

Here's a full breakdown of what each platform offers:

Social Media Advertising

  • Ability to target very precise audiences based on gender, industry, age, location, interests, behaviors, engagement, and more
  • Popular Feature: Facebook Insights
    • Discover which posts work the best
  • Ability to schedule automatic posts

Try it out: Facebook Business Manager

  • Target specific audiences based on gender, industry, age, location, etc.
  • Popular Feature: Promote Mode
    • Automatically promotes posts to engage wider audience
  • Ability to schedule automatic posts

Try it out: Twitter for Business

  • Target specific audiences based on gender, industry, age, location, etc.
  • Popular Feature: Instagram Stories
    • Takes full use of mobile screen with product stickers and tags
  • Ability to schedule automatic posts in Facebook Business Manager

Try it out: Instagram Business

  • Target specific audiences based on gender, industry, age, location, etc.
  • Popular Feature: Sponsored Lens
    • Create a custom filter for your posts
  • Ability to schedule automatic posts

Try it out: Snapchat's Business Center

The Power of Social Media Marketing

As long as you stick to the rules of each social media platform, this is an extremely lucrative way to advertise your business. About 2.34 billion people around the world are on social media, which means you have a lot of reach with this marketing strategy.

The Power of Social Media Marketing
  • Over 2 billion people have a Facebook account.
  • The average user spends close to an hour per day on Facebook.
  • Over 5 million businesses are paying for advertising on Facebook.
  • An incredible 95.8% of social media marketers say Facebook delivers the best ROI among social media platforms.
  • 75% of shoppers click on a product link when it's posted by their friends.
  • 53% of people make a purchase from the company.
  • There are more than 335 million active users on Twitter.
  • 500 million Tweets are sent per day.
  • 85% of small and medium business owners use Twitter.
  • The average Twitter user follows five businesses.
  • The top reason people use Twitter is to discover something new and interesting.
  • There are 180 million active users on Snapchat around the world.
  • On average, people open up Snapchat about 25 times per day.
  • Snapchat ads are viewed up to a million times per day.
  • 64% of marketers have a Snapchat account.
  • 58% of college students would likely purchase a product or service if they received a coupon on Snapchat.
  • 700 million people are on Instagram.
  • People are on Instagram about 53 minutes per day.
  • 71% of U.S. businesses use Instagram.
  • 80% of users follow a business on Instagram.
  • 7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are branded.
  • Posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6% more engagement than those that don't.

If these numbers tell you anything, it's that social media is a popular form of advertising for businesses. Most people check these platforms from their phones as it's convenient and helps them stay constantly connected. In fact, 80% of smartphone users check their devices before even brushing their teeth in the mornings. One of the first places they go is to social media, meaning your company can make an impression bright and early.

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In recent years, social media has become an important part of people's daily lives and, therefore, firms' marketing programs.

– Yuchi Zhang, author for Journal of Marketing



Have you ever been in a heated argument over which actor was in a movie? It's easy to prove your friends wrong with a quick Google search. Of course, we use this search engine for more than just settling debates. From getting directions to playing music, there's nothing this technology can't accomplish. That's why Google accounts for 96% of all searches that take place on cell phones.

Since people are spending a lot of time on this search engine, many businesses turn to Google Ads, or PPC (Pay-per-Click), to market their products or services. These ads show up in search results with specific keywords, also known as Google AdWords, which allow advertisers to bid on search terms in order to make their clickable ads appear. For example, if you have a business that sells wedding favors, your ad might appear if someone searches for "affordable wedding favors."

Google is a massive influence in the marketplace, and with people spending so much time on the search engine, it only makes sense to use it to help advertise your business.



It's also very common for brands to place ads before YouTube videos. People can be watching a funny video about cats, see an ad for a new Cajun restaurant, and immediately know where to go for dinner. They can check Google Maps, pull up direction, and download a Groupon before they go, all right from their phones!

YouTube offers three different types of ads

  1. 1

    TrueView In-Stream Ads
    The ads are 30 seconds long and typically feature voiceover or some kind of narrative. The "Skip This Ad" comes after five seconds.

    TrueView Discovery Ads
    Your ad shows up in YouTube search results, on the YouTube homepage, and alongside related videos.

  2. 2

    Bumper Ads
    These are 6-second video ads that work best on mobile. Since they are short and sweet, they are heavier on visual content.

  3. 3

    Pre-Roll Ads
    The audience will watch until the end since these ads are non-skippable and pay-per-click. The videos are typically 15-20 seconds in length.

YouTube advertising has been successful for many businesses. In fact, 62% of ad time on YouTube mobile received the viewer's attention, compared to only 45% of TV commercials. It just goes to show people are spending more time watching videos on their phones than watching TV.

Learn how a small town quilt shop owner used YouTube to advertise her company!



Go back to the old-fashioned days of radio by advertising on Spotify. This music streaming service has over 83 million users, making it a great place for a business to run their ads.

Spotify makes advertising extremely easy for businesses. You just have to submit a script and they take care of the voiceover and music mix. From there, the business chooses who to target based on age, gender, location, activity, and music taste. They also set their campaign dates and budget for the audio ads.

If you choose to advertise on Spotify, you can expect your ad to be heard over and over again. These are often repeated as a person listens to their playlists from their phone at work, home, or in the car. This is extremely important as according to Forbes "by repeating the same ad, a brand gains incremental reach and increases its recallability." Like a great song, you want your ad to be on repeat!

Other Apps

Other Apps

Keep in mind, most apps allow you some ability to advertise. These typically show up as banners, videos, or quick pop-ups in your downloads. If you've ever played a game on your phone, you might be familiar with these little blurbs coming up on your screen.

In-app advertising is usually a good way for other apps and mobile services to get attention. However, some businesses have used this medium to advertise their services and products as well. This is usually done through external sources like AdColony, a mobile advertising company that allows advertisers to create targeted video ads that automatically show up in Android installs.

These ads typically show up in the most popular apps, which includes social media platforms, YouTube, and Spotify. Still, though, you'll see your ads pop up in other popular apps like Skype and Candy Crush. Overall, it's another way to reach your audience while they're spending time on their phones.

Branding with Phone Accessories

Not only can businesses advertise with mobile ads, but also with branded mobile accessories. Since these items are on the outside of the user's phone, other people can see the logo design and ask questions. Plus, the cell phone's owner can be reminded of your company every day when they pick up their phone.

You can add your logo to any of these mobile accessories!

Cell phone wallets

Cell phone wallets
These cash holders stick to the back of your phone via adhesive and come in many bright colors and unique shapes.

Phone stands

Phone stands:
A phone stand holds your phone while it's sitting on your desk or counter. Since they come in creative styles, you can find one that matches your personality.


PopSockets™ are a trendy mobile accessory that make it extremely easy to watch Netflix or viral videos from your cell phone without holding it the whole time.

Phone cases

Phone cases
Protect your device by securing it in a phone case. This is essential if you're prone to accidentally dropping your phone.

Mobile chargers

Mobile chargers
It always seems like our cell phone batteries are running out of juice. That's why it's useful to have a portable charger on hand.

How Are Cell Phones Changing the World?

How Are Cell Phones Changing the World?
How Are Cell Phones Changing the World?

All this technology makes spending easier and more efficient than ever before. With cell phone advertising, people have more direct access to the products that are being marketed. If you saw a billboard for Nike shoes, you would have to drive to a store to buy them. Now, you can see the ad on Facebook or hear about it on Spotify and go right online to order those kicks from your phone. Everything we possibly need is right in the palm of our hands.

Stats for Success

Stats 1 icon

By 2019, mobile advertising is expected to represent 72% of all U.S. digital ad spending.

Stats 2 icon

80% of internet users own a smartphone.

Stats 3 icon

57% of people won't recommend a business with a poorly-designed mobile site.

Stats 4 icon

71% of advertisers believe mobile marketing is key to their business.

The Bottom Line

Advertising isn't like it used to be when lithographed signs decorated the sides of barns and highways. Today, a vast majority of businesses target consumers on their cell phones. With the entire world on our screens, it only makes sense to go digital!

Quality Logo Products are experts on all things printed and promotional. Let our team of awesome, incredibly good looking, and fun promo nerds help you select awesome promotional swag today!

4 random promtional products 4 random promotional products tablet
Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products. As a promo expert, she's uncovered the world's first custom tote bag, interviewed the guy behind rock band ACDC's logo, and had a piece published by the Advertising Specialty Institute, a leader in the promotional products industry.


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