Mobile Advertising – The Industry’s Problem Child

Posted on 27. Feb, 2012 by in Digital Marketing



We thought it could be 2009, or 2010, then 2011 and now could 2012 eventually be the year of mobile?  Well many arriving for the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today believe that mobile advertising has eventually come of age in 2012 and with numerous networks, Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and market places exploding onto the scene some would believe this is true.

However, for agencies and advertisers we are still witnessing the majority of ad spend being distributed among traditional channels where consumers are no longer spending their time as they once were.  The balance between print, radio or TV media is clear to see on the graph below from a recent Flurry report however many advertisers are still to recognise this channel and reap the benefits from the more measureable mobile and web channels.

Web based display advertising has become the golden child in recent years due to the precision targeting, accountability and accurate measurement.  Replicating just a few of these targeting approaches and tracking methods across mobile is a frustration that many advertisers have experienced and is just one barrier potentially suffocating the growth of mobile.  Behavioural targeting and re-targeting can be somewhat difficult on mobile due to a limited cookie pool and limited access to the UDID, the unique identifier held by each device that can in theory be used to track users.  Again, with no post impression or post click data and large discrepancies between ad serving and publisher figures, many advertisers are often left to reply solely on analytics or publisher tracking.

The MMA (Mobile Marketing Association) has been relatively successful in developing a set of standards and best practises for formats and measurement, however there is still a wide gap between the more evolved web based advertising.

Despite these issues the ROI can sometimes be much higher on mobile advertising. For many advertisers the barriers of having a mobile page, understanding the audience, tracking and having the confidence to test a new channel create numerous hurdles for both client and agency.  With many agencies best placed to share their knowledge of mobile campaigns the lack of concrete case studies for clients can also be frustrating.

Facebook are set to enter this space in the next few weeks with their Mobile Sponsored Stories which could help encourage many advertisers to spend on mobile for the first time.  With many Facebook pages already optimised to mobile and tracking freely available this could be an easy win for both Facebook and the advertiser.  This also places pressure on other mobile giants such as Apple and Google.

With the entry costs for iAds now down as low as $100,000 (on launch this was as high as $1m) we are seeing the removal of another major barrier for advertisers wanting to test mobile.  Therefore the press have been discussing the rise of a mobile advertising price war which can only be good for the advertiser and stimulate accelerated growth for this channel.

The trend for increasing time spent on mobile devices is not likely to retreat any time soon and as mobiles are being used for increasingly complex and fragmented tasks, this gives advertisers and developers access to a greater amount of information than ever before.  Mary Meeker from the consulting firm KPCB has identified how mobile will evolve in the near future from simple mobile sites and applications, to complex Home Entertainment and Wireless Home Control centres supported by a network of ubiquitous sensors (as demonstrated on slide 49 on the presentation below).
The mobile channel of the future will essentially be our passport of personal preferences that will tailor any environment we want.  With our permission, advertising in its future form will be able to tap into this valuable data and create unique experiences for us.  For those advertisers who make the move into mobile now and learn from the platform, they will be better placed in the future to take advantage of these developments.

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