Mobile Moments, AdTech & Artificial Intelligence


To explore adtech, mobile moments, and artificial intelligence, Adotas caught up with Scott Swanson, co-founder and CEO (pictured left) of Aki Technologies.

Q: Why do you think the adtech space has been the target of so much criticism in the last couple of years?

A: Many consumers today have a general understanding of the principles of ad targeting. They know that, by maintaining an online presence, they’re opting in to a data exchange with the online ecosystem. And, despite this, they’re still consistently receiving ads that are irrelevant or poorly-timed. The disconnect is particularly obvious on mobile, where the experience should feel more personal.

The question that underlies this frustration is really, why can’t advertisers get it right? And the answer is fairly simple; among the infinite range of possible experiences on mobile, it’s not easy to know when to deliver an ad. Not every impression offers a real engagement opportunity but, when it comes to identifying the right moments, traditional targeting falls short.

At Aki Technologies, we believe that it’s possible to analyze data in a way that reveals more about the consumer—not just the who, when, where, but also their mindset at a given moment—and use that to predict their receptivity to advertising. It’s a level of insight that hasn’t been available before and, in addition to informing smarter and more efficient targeting, it eliminates a lot of friction in the mobile ad experience.

Q: Can you talk more about mobile moments and how brands are using them to move the needle on campaigns?

A: According to a recent report by Flurry, consumers are spending up to five hours a day on devices. It’s a big chunk of time, but what happens in that time is going to look really different depending on a broad array of factors, including but not limited to audience, phase of day, context, location, historical location, even weather. Moments offer a framework for interpreting those factors and, ultimately, demystifying consumers’ behavior. What is a particular audience or consumer doing while on their device? When, among those various experiences (or moments) is a consumer most receptive to advertising? And which moments are most relevant to a specific brand or campaign? It’s a more nuanced—and human—approach to advertising that supports more precise targeting and better engagement.

Q: What are some real-world examples of mobile moment targeting strategies?

A: We’ve enabled campaigns for brands across the full spectrum of verticals—CPG, QSR, Automotive, Travel, Entertainment, to name a few. In each case, we develop a custom moment targeting strategy that aligns with the brand and its specific campaign goals. When Taco Bell wanted to promote a new breakfast offering, we helped them target receptive morning moments. Campari America wanted to reach consumers who were more likely to make a purchase, so we included grocery shopping moments in their moment strategy and also leveraged audio ads to reach their audience during listening moments. Creative strategy is a key component to moment optimization; when you understand a consumer’s mindset at a given moment, you can better gauge what ad formats and messages are most likely to generate a response.

Q: Artificial intelligence is a hot topic these days. Is it just another passing buzzword for marketers or is there a meaningful opportunity here?

A: The mobile environment is fiercely competitive and only getting more crowded: BIA/Kelsey recently forecasted U.S. mobile ad spend will see a 17% compound annual growth rate through 2021. While marketers are armed with lots of data and an array of choice in platforms, differentiation isn’t easy to come by. This explains the appeal of artificial intelligence; in the race to crack the code around mobile engagement and ROI, AI promises to learn faster and bring more value out of the data that advertisers haven’t yet fully capitalized on. In the context of Aki and moments, we’re using AI to detect patterns of receptivity and response that would have otherwise gone unrecognized. And, not perhaps not surprisingly, it’s made a dramatic impact on performance. So while it is a buzzword and probably invoked far more than is warranted, artificial intelligence is a real opportunity and will play a key role in the continuing evolution of advertising.

Q: Where will we see the next big shift in consumer behavior, and what can marketers and agencies do now to prepare for this?

A: We’re still at the early stages of IoT, but consumers are warming up to connectivity beyond smartphones and tablets. And while there’s a lot of brand messaging happening now, that will increase as smart appliances, cars, homes, clothing, and so on, join the fray. Marketers and agencies need to be thinking about the best way to engage consumers in a world that’s fully wired, so to speak, for advertising. This means developing a campaign strategy that is powerful enough to cut through the clutter, while also being considerate of a consumer’s current experience and intent. Mobile, of course, is the ideal training ground for this next phase of advertising because mobile faces the same challenges. Brands and agencies that are pushing to truly address these challenges in mobile, instead of simply relying on a small-screen version of their desktop strategy, are already better prepared for the next big shift.

Scott Swanson is Co-Founder and CEO of Aki Technologies. Formerly, Scott served as President of Global Advertising Sales for Opera Mediaworks after Mobile Theory, a company he co-founded, was acquired by Opera Software in February 2012. At Opera, Scott oversaw a 250-person global sales team with offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Buenos Aires, Moscow, and Singapore. Prior to founding Mobile Theory, Scott founded and ran 47 Media, a consulting firm that advises Fortune 500 brands and media companies on advertising technology and strategy.


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