One perspective to argue is that mobile ad technology has yet to scale to the level needed for the ecosystem to generate real revenue.
David Macaulay’s book, “The Way Things Work,” imparts that one should pursue a deeper understanding of what is really going on behind the scenes. Innovation cannot be driven without knowing the why and the how.
Mobile advertising will not be successful without truly understanding the core of the technology that can drive the industry to scale. Fortunately there are some intelligent folks pursuing this quest who will shepherd us into this next phase of growth.
There are already plenty of solutions available. We have found ways to track, ways to target, and the means to provide solid evidence that mobile ads are effective. However the ecosystem has yet to fully connect these parts and therefore fragmentation exists. This has created more frustration among the supply and demand players in the space. We see what we want, but we cannot have it at the scale we need.
Taking a look at this by category provides a better sense of what is holding us back from maximizing opportunity in this ecosystem.
App versus mobile Web
That said, when it comes to advertising the media experience is drastically different from one environment to the next. There are limitations when you evaluate a creative execution, targeting technology, tracking technology and want to do it in one format.
Just ask ad operations specialists. The format for advertising can vary from one environment to the next, so it is important to ensure that proper expectations have been set with clients, partners and vendors. This may appear to be seamless, but true mobile ad serving technology adapts for this.
Does it still matter? Is one winning?
Traffic to apps and mobile Web is arguably still pretty even.
Tablet versus smartphone
Technically speaking, there is little difference when serving into a tablet versusa smartphone.
The operating systems are consistent so that while there still might be a need to build different sites and apps for the two different devices, from an ad tech and ad ecosystem perspective, there will not be much of a difference from the build and serve of smartphones. Android is Android and iOS is iOS. User behavior, however, is different on both a smartphone and a tablet. It is important to consider tablet strategy separate from smartphone messaging.
The biggest disconnect with tablet is the question of, “Is it a mobile screen or is it a PC extension?” The answer has to be mobile due to the technical backbone of the tablet. Some marketers are diving into tablet headfirst even before mobile because of the creativity the canvas enables.
Audience versus context
The mobile device is personal. Therefore, we must think beyond the standard audience and contextual targeting methodologies of online.
In mobile, we can find an audience in one environment, and track them in another environment that is relevant to them. Some decide an audience by where they go at certain times of day, others by what they purchase, where and when. The key is to be open, willing to try different approaches and be surprised by what the target audience is doing on their mobile device. It may be different than their online behavior.
While these technologies are effective when implemented correctly, ad tech is still preventing scale. Integrating these third-party technologies requires an ad server that is truly mobile.
Ask questions and discover which ad server the publisher or network has chosen to use. When evaluating the various vendors, understand which ad servers they are certified with. This will tell you how far you can scale to your target.
Premium inventory continues to become more premium. When we desire to have the front page, with rich media and advanced targeting, we run out. There is a price to pay for this inventory. There are tons of impressions that still go unsold or sold at a very low price. In order to connect them, we must know more about the user and have auto-optimization tools in the ecosystem.
What about programmatic? It is and will be the conversation for years to come.
Some might say that it is already here in mobile. This is where technology must enable the nodes of the industry to start making things work. Networks and publishers need a bidder, and we all must begin to automate the process of transacting. When creative and targeting technologies can truly scale through the mobile ad server, with the ability to track and optimize, there is effective programmatic in mobile. The premium supply must be able to take the long-tail demand without switching to a different platform. As a marketer, you should be able to buy an impression at the best price you can get for the exact need that you have.
Finally, and most importantly, the ecosystem will not thrive without acceptable measurement. The ad technologies that will win will be built through a cookie-
Today we have alternatives, but their scale and validity is often questionable. We must obtain approval on these alternative methods of tracking and measurement and adopt it fully. Without a universal measurement method, we will never prove the value of mobile advertising.
The bottom line: It is getting complicated, but it is also a whole lot more exciting than where we were a couple of years ago talking about CTR and CPC versus CPM on a run of channel basis. It got us to where we are today, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Ask questions, know the way things work and do not be afraid to test and learn. Decide what you want the ecosystem to look like for your property or your brand. Technology is present and enabling us to thrive.
Carrie Coffee is vice president of sales at Mojiva, Inc., New York. Reach her at [email protected] www.MobileMarketer.com
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