07/17/2013 12:50 pm ET Updated Sep 16, 2013

Mobile Advertising Nearly Doubles Worldwide, Reaching $8.9 Billion

A new study from IAB reveals that worldwide mobile ad revenue rose by a massive 82.8% last year to $8.9 billion from $5.3 billion in 2011. That's right -- while many traditional advertising channels are slumping, mobile ad spend nearly doubled from one year to the next.

In terms of share of ad sales by region, Asia-Pacific leads the way (40.2 percent), surpassing North America (39.8 percent). Next in line are Western Europe (16.9 percent), Central Europe (1.3 percent), Middle East & Africa (1.2 percent), and Latin America (0.6 percent).

Why is mobile advertising growing so explosively? The report cites rising smartphone adoption, fast-expanding 3G and 4G networks, along with more time spent on mobile devices. Also, companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft are devoting more attention to mobile media, mobile devices, and therefore, mobile advertising.

But let's not forget about another factor that's enabling mobile ad sales to climb -- the translation industry is supporting this incredible growth. While it's true that many companies work with local creative agencies to develop targeted advertising that is unique to each market, campaigns that are launched globally with a cohesive central theme are not uncommon.

For any global mobile ad campaign to be a success across multiple markets, the campaign must be localized, often by specialists using a process known as "transcreation" or cultural adaptation to ensure local market fit. During this process, it is not uncommon for a provider to develop completely new messaging, while perhaps retaining certain elements of branding, colors and images. In other instances, the messaging remains largely the same, while images and colors are adapted. In yet others, most of the content can be directly translated, while certain pieces must be transformed entirely.

Indeed, some companies are even taking advantage of multilingual mobile advertising to reach multicultural markets in their home countries. For example, Special K breakfast cereal recently ran a bilingual mobile ad in Spanish and English in the United States. Likewise, SoyJoy fruit bars launched a successful bilingual mobile campaign. Allergy medicine maker Zyrtec also recently launched a campaign in both languages to target the fast-growing U.S. Latino market.

What should companies do to capitalize on surging opportunities to reach more customers on mobile devices as they move into international and domestic markets? Use vendors that specialize in transcreation, work with translation technologies that are optimized for the mobile space, and follow best practices for localizing mobile content.