ADOTAS – For marketers, mobile advertising holds quite a lot of promise. Just do a quick search for the terms “mobile advertising” and you will see a myriad of articles discussing how brands and agencies view mobile as the “billboard in your pocket” or the “next generation of consumer engagement.” But until the medium matures into a full-fledged sustainable revenue channel, this ad delivery method needs to overcome a few challenges, like targeting and small screen size; otherwise it may never fully live up to its potential.
According to a new report by Gartner on the mobile ad industry, the firm predicts the next three years will witness a slowing of mobile’s growth rate as mobile ad inventory will outpace demand. Despite this lukewarm prediction, Gartner predicts that global mobile ad spend will reach $18 billion this year, up from an estimated $13.1 billion in 2013. The pace will accelerate even more over the next thee years and by 2017 the market is expected to hit a whopping $42.9 billion.
So why all the doom and gloom about mobile?
While ad inventory will create a larger and larger gap between supply and demand in 2014, this will in turn give advertisers more options. Starting in 2015, the market is expected to pivot rapidly, fueled by improved market conditions and more standardization of mobile measurement and new targeting technologies. Coupled together, these factors will result in a global uptick in mobile advertising.
“In the early days, mobile was mostly an unmeasured, un-optimized buy,” said Mark Prior, VP of mobile and international at Rocket Fuel. “You couldn’t apply a lot of what you knew worked in traditional display. Often it was a ‘CEO-buy’ – you had to buy some mobile as a reassurance that you were checking the box on all the latest hot mobile topics.”
According to Prior, mobile accountability is at the forefront of innovation where previously the lack of cookies, data and attribution technologies created a messy soup to measuring the impact and effectiveness of mobile campaigns.
A Powerful Mobile Tracking Equation
Today brands are now better able to track a user’s online ad behaviors through a combination of sources including: traditional web cookies we know and love on certain mobile devices, new identifiers from app inventory and an emerging class of ad tech that makes a accurate prediction of who is using a particular device.
“In fact, today we get more data from mobile than we have ever seen in desktop display advertising,” Prior added. “We have first party CRM data for some client campaigns, and third-party data through exchanges and data providers. Much of this data is unavailable in display. In mobile, we can know what a consumer is doing within an app, what carrier and device they’re using, whether they are on WiFi or 3G, and of course hyper-local location data.”
To help piece the consumer puzzle together, larger brands are now bringing their own data into the fold to improve campaign performance.
Attribution as a science has come a long way since last-click measurement models. The industry now understands that consumers are exposed to brand messages across the spectrum of media formats and each brand exposure cumulatively contributes to influencing someone to eventually click on an ad. Another avenue of further exploration is tracking in-app behaviors and location-based data and how these may play a role in understanding potential customers.
As Prior mentions, “Naturally, early campaigns in mobile focused on knowing where the consumer was standing at any given moment. The next generation is to use consumer patterns to understand what their interests are. Just as Rocket Fuel builds a profile of a consumer’s interest based on their digital behavior on the desktop, we are doing the same for mobile. We’ve created targeted profiles of individuals who spend a lot of time in recreational and outdoor settings like gyms and hiking trails as people who are interested in athletics and are appropriate for certain campaigns. We’ve done similar profiles around bar districts, music and entertainment.”