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How Have Cell Phones Changed Business & Advertising?

Alyssa Mertes

Published: April 6th, 2022

Cell phones haven't always been the mini computers they are today. Landlines became dinosaurs, and the mobile devices that followed could make calls, and maybe send a text message or take a picture. They didn't have touchscreens, let alone apps, browsers, and cloud storage!

Smartphones have drastically changed the world of business. Here's your guide to everything your business needs to know about going mobile.

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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 Do People Use Their Phones For?

People are using their smartphones for more than just selfies, status updates, and cat memes. Our phones are tools that allow us to interact with ads, shop, and make a purchase very easily.

Consumers can use their cell phones to:

Person looking at hat store on phone

Visit Websites

The real world is similar to the book "Ready Player One" - we spend almost all of time in a virtual landscape! 55% of this global web traffic comes from smartphones.

Person shopping on phone

Mobile Shopping

You can use your phone to buy clothes, electronics, and even singing telegrams! 80% of Americans are online shoppers and half make their purchases using a smartphone. For that reason, it's important that a business's mobile site is functional, fast, and easy to use.

Person looking at instagram on phone

Follow Brands

55% of consumers have bought something online after finding it on social media. We can follow them on social media, check out reviews, find coupons, watch ads, and keep track of trending news, all from our smartphone.

2 people looking at phones

Share With Friends & Family

According to a report by the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising, a staggering 83% of people trust the recommendation of friends and family above anything else. If you think a business is cool, or if they're offering a great deal, it just takes a few taps of your finger to share it with your friends and family.

Phone displaying gmail

Check Emails

Thanks to email apps, people can open their inboxes right from their phones. This is a very convenient way to keep up with new products and deals from their favorite companies. Surprisingly, however, nearly 1 in 5 email campaigns are not optimized for mobile!

Person looking at phone

Pay for Purchases

To date, about 90 million Americans are using mobile payment apps to make their purchases. Some banks, credit unions, and stores also have their own mobile wallet apps, such as Walmart Pay or Zelle Pay through Chase.

What is a Mobile Wallet?

Old flip phone

Mobile wallets are downloadable apps that store your credit card information. They work via transfer technology (known as near-field communication), which is able to successfully read your card information when you hold your phone up to a payment terminal.

Old flip phone

What Are the Best Mobile Payment Apps?

Person paying with phone

Most smartphones have apps you can download to make mobile payments. Some of the most popular are:

  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay
  • Samsung Pay
  • Venmo
  • PayPal
  • Circle Pay
  • Veem
  • Cash App

Today, mobile wallets are very popular. If your business supports these payment methods, you should definitely make it known in your advertising.

Person paying with phone

What is Online Advertising?

Online ad on phone

Online advertising is a virtual form of communication that is done over the internet. This could be ads that pop up on websites while you're browsing the internet, PPC ads from Google, or social media ads paid for by your favorite brands.

Online ad on phone

What Apps Have Ads?

In 2020, consumers downloaded more than 218 billion mobile apps from the Google Play Store. Apps are installed to make our lives easier, but they can also be an advertising platform for brands.

You may see ads when using any of the apps listed below.

Google on tablet


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.

Facebook on tablet


Facebook ads give you the ability to target precise audiences based on gender, industry, age location, interests, behaviors, and engagement. Facebook is the second-most downloaded app in the world, and an average user clicks 12 ads every month.

Instagram on phone


People are obsessed with Instagram, so if you're a trendy brand, you should use their platform for advertising. Experts estimate that Instagram can reach 20% of the global population 13 years or older.

Twitter on phone


Over 339 million people can be reached through Twitter ads. As long as your business is an active user and has a following, it's worth investing in this form of advertising.

Tik tok on phone


Launched in 2016, TikTok is one of the newest social media apps in the world. Your business can pay for video ads, which run anywhere from 5 seconds to a full minute. Generation Z accounts for 60% of TikTok users, so get on this platform if you're targeting a young audience.

YouTube on phone


YouTube advertising has been successful for many businesses. 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.

Spotify on phone


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.

zoom on phone


Zoom soared in popularity after the COVID-19 pandemic with a 317% increase in downloads. As of 2021, they started offering promoted ads that users see once they end their meetings. Ads are definitely a better sight than one of the worst Zoom fails - a person not wearing pants!

Uber on phone

Lyft & Uber

Almost 50 million people in the United States have downloaded the Lyft and Uber apps.. Ride-sharing is only becoming more popular, so if you haven't yet, you may want to consider looking into their in-app advertising or outdoor ads.

DoorDash on phone


Are you a restaurant, diner, bakery, or coffee shop? You should definitely think about investing in search-page ads through DoorDash. This platform allows you to purchase placements and sponsored listings. With 18 million active users on DoorDash, this is a great way for your restaurant to get more orders.

That's not all! A majority of mobile games have in-app advertising including Candy Crush, Fruit Ninja, and Pokémon Go. You'll also see ads on Bumble, Slack, and on streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu.

What is Social Media Advertising?

paper cutouts of emojis

Social media advertising is a type of digital marketing where businesses can create their own paid ad campaigns. You can target specific demographics, leading to increased engagement, web traffic, and hopefully, sales.

paper cutouts of emojis

Does Social Media Advertising Work?

As long as you stick to the rules of each social media platform, advertising on these sites is a lucrative option. You want to place your ads where people see them, and in this digital world, that happens to be on social media.

Take a look at the stats when it comes to social media marketing:

Over 4 billion people actively use social media.

49% of internet users are more likely to purchase from brands that advertise on social media.

3 in 10 people use social media to research products they may want to purchase in the future.

Social ad spend exceeded $55 billion and is projected to increase by 3% every year until 2024.

People in the United States spend an average of 2 hours and 25 minutes a day on social media.

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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

How Do Google Ads Work?

PPC ads target specific keywords known as Google AdWords. To get your clickable ads to show up, you need to bid on search terms. For example, if you sell wedding favors, your ad might want to bid for the search, "affordable wedding favors."

You're only charged when a user actually clicks on your ad. These appear next to the results on a SERP (search engine results page). Google's algorithm and rules for PPC are constantly in limbo, but with more than 5 billion searches every day, it's definitely worth your time, especially if you're an ecommerce business.

Does PPC Advertising Really Work?

PPC ads

Businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on Google Ads. 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.

PC ads

How Does My Phone Know What Ads to Show Me?

Woman looking at ad on phone

Your phone knows which ads to show you based on your data and location. Cookies track your website visits, searches, and clicks, and this information is purchased from third-party companies.

Woman looking at ad on phone

Conspiracy theorists also swear that our smartphones are "listening" to our conversation, and they're not really that far off. Some advertisers can hear keywords in the sounds around you via the onboard microphone. They can also pick up your searches through voice-activated assistants like Alexa, Bixby, or Siri.

What is the Future of Cell Phones?

Children looking at phone

Smartphones are only getting smarter with every generation, and it can be tough to keep up with the times. Tech experts are even predicting that in the next five years, we may need to adapt to wearable technology. This could mean that businesses will need to create a website that's compatible on tablets, smartphones, and smart accessories.

Children looking at phone

Real life is starting to feel like a sci-fi movie. Not only is there talk of wearable tech, but holographic displays, foldable phones, and ambient computing (a.k.a. smart screens in public) are also on the horizon.

Time will tell just how much businesses are going to need to adapt in the future. Who knows? Maybe we will need to be ready for flying car phones!

Stats for Success

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The average American spends over 4 hours on their smartphone every day.

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

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

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People regularly use an average of 9 mobile apps every single day.

The Bottom Line

The numbers really don't lie when it comes to mobile usage. Today, you have to target customers on their cell phones if you want your business to thrive. With the entire world on our screens, it only makes sense to go digital and to be flexible with all the changes that come with it.

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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