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SAUSALITO, Calif. — Mobile ads don’t need to be dumb and ugly stealers of precious screen real estate. They can be refreshing.

Adding context in real time, with inputs like geolocation data, can increase the value of ads on mobile devices, Brian Wong, cofounder and chief executive of Kiip, said at VentureBeat’s Mobile Summit conference today.

He used a running application as an example.

“You’re in a moment where you’re literally logging a run,” he said. “You’re sweating. That’s a perfect moment for Gatorade to be there to reward you with something.”

Indeed, Gregg Colvin, chief operating officer of Universal McCann, said he and his colleagues have been trying to move their customers toward mobile as “a utility.” On mobile devices, he said, it’s possible to deliver “contextual relevancy.”

But mobile marketing is still nascent. Some companies that buy ads don’t necessarily grasp the power and appeal of mobile ads yet. And on top of that, they might not have the best tools to measure the value of any mobile ads they do buy.

Reach and frequency metrics might not be enough to demonstrate success in mobile advertising, Wong said.

“I think ultimately the differentiation we need to create here is something like moments,” he said.

Companies that deal in mobile ads have a duty to articulate their value beyond just price, Wong said.

They “need to know and expose the value of mobile screens — the positives,” he said.

We sleep near our phones, and we check them as soon as we wake up. Wong hopes more media buyers will wake up to that.

For Colvin, mobile is important, but it has a place alongside other media.

“I don’t care if it’s indoor or outdoor or whatever,” Colvin said. “Is it relevant, is it immediate to my consumer? That’s the most important thing.”

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