EDITOR’S NOTE: In Part 1 of this article, the author explored the many reasons why mobile advertising sucks. Here, he offers a three-part solution he calls “The Zen of Mobile Advertising.”
ADOTAS – The Zen of mobile app advertising is to instantly achieve a quality experience by giving the user a beautiful interactive native app experience — the “right content” — in the “right context.” To achieve this Zen we need to explore a threefold path.
1. A Context Management Platform
Right context is simple in concept and hard to do. Use audience segmentation knowledge, targeting and re-targeting information, and social information to choose either a carefully placed banner in the mobile app (like Facebook does on News Feed), or an interstitial at the right time in a mobile app, and one that understands which screen the user is on at any given time, and adapts to that screen’s requirements.
A Context Management Platform will tell you all the context information needed through an API, so all you, as the publisher of an app, need is the ad server and the creative, and off you go.
Of course “tracking” is a bad word these days, and multi-screen experiences are changing how and where to find a user at the right time through “re-targeting.” Still, says Jason Spero, head of global mobile sales and strategy at Google, “We’re seeing this today with immersive brand building and direct response campaigns that take proximity, call and device capabilities into account. When marketers get the experience right and measure effectively, mobile can be a game-changer for them.”
And to demonstrate progress in a multi-screen world, Google’s Director of Enhanced Campaign Ads, Surojeet Chatterjee, says, “… we will automatically detect the right device for them…”
All good intentions, but there is much to be done. Unlike the web, a multi-screen world in which mobile first app experiences without cookies are common, and social information is in silos, the work involved is technically challenging. Hence I submit there is a platform to be built to solve the “right context” problem before “the click to try the app” being advertised. There is more…
2. A Content Delivery Platform
Native app experiences need native ad experiences. A content delivery platform that can enable the mobile advertisingecosystem will deliver native app experiences inside the ad itself, with no extra work for the advertiser.
Right Content: When the user chooses to try the app being advertised (because the context was right), the user instantly enters the mobile app experience for the app being advertised before going to the app store. Not HTML5, not video, but the interactive app itself. For about 60 seconds, the user can “play around and check out the app” without having to wait three minutes to enter passwords and download the app, etc. Wouldn’t that be compelling to users?
Again, this is a technically challenging problem, not just another ad server. You cannot just include the code of all possible apps to be advertised into a publisher’s app. Hence, it’s also a platform problem. What’s needed is an App Delivery Platform that could make itself available to any publisher and advertiser and deliver native, interactive app experiences within publisher apps.
3. An Ecosystem That Leverages the Two
Perhaps the most important element of a platform is not just the technology, but the ecosystem that forms around the technology.
To illustrate the ecosystem idea, let’s take Google, the king of web advertising. Google AdSense is a platform. It’s designed off a sophisticated technological engine that powers ecosystem with context and content.
In web advertising, the ecosystem consists of bloggers and websites that have publishing inventory (or page views), and agencies and ad networks. They are not expected to innovate technologically, although they can if they so choose. They are part of the ecosystem. Ecosystems are about relationships, niches and audience specialization, not about advertising technology platforms. So the AdSense platform plus the ecosystem work together.
Switching gears, try to name platforms that drive the mobile ad network ecosystem. Google has AdMob, but that’s primarily a network. Its search platform is not capable of app delivery inside apps for sure, and “context is being worked on.” iAds held some great promise, but for now Facebook seems to be the king of mobile advertising and has been reported to make forays into the platform space, but basically for now Facebook is a publisher.
Facebook has a sophisticated engine for its own use in its own native mobile app and it solves the context problem. Right user? Well, Facebook knows a lot about users, more than anyone else in the world. Right place? In the newsfeed, with some social context, so it feels like it’s not interrupting. Right time? About 1 in 20 feed items per Mark Zuckerberg, so the frequency is not too annoying.
All good, but while Facebook’s innovation is a good destination play, it’s not a context platform play, yet. And it too doesn’t have a content delivery platform in terms of delivering native app experiences:
The Threefold Path: Content Delivery, Context Management, and Ecosystem
Quality mobile ad experiences that are not frustrating or slow will be achieved through threefold path to the Zen of Mobile Advertising. First, a Context Management Platform, next a Content Delivery Platform, and finally an Ecosystem made of agencies, intermediation layers and ad networks that can collectively play a very important role focused on audiences, publisher management and advertiser relationships.