The mobile advertising market has been evolving predictably, if faster than many expected. eMarketer, for example, has upwardly adjusted their forecasts four times since September 2011. And when I say “predictable,” I don’t mean it is dull – far from it. What I mean is that mobile advertising has broadly followed the blueprint of other high-volume transaction markets: including online, and – to a lesser degree – energy, financial trading, etc.
2014 marks the year where we will accelerate from these important building blocks. We will embrace our media background, get our geek on to fully champion technology and big data, and finish the transition from mobile as a good marketing term to mobile as a strategic channel.
Programmatic is the new backbone
Programmatic will support upwards of 30 per cent of total mobile ad spend in 2014. Some forecasts are even more aggressive. Programmatic will serve as the basic backbone of mobile advertising (and for all of digital advertising for that matter). Publishers will take advantage of programmatic for both their direct (via Direct Deal and Programmatic Guaranteed) and indirect channels (via exchanges). Agencies and buyers will also continue to embrace programmatic buying. I recognise that we are not that far beyond the debate about whether programmatic will take hold; and yet we will soon be in a place where it is not necessary to even use the word programmatic—it will simply be assumed. The term programmatic will become a non-essential qualifier.
We will get comfortable—and then very productive—in a post-cookie world
Mobile advertising never had a cookie and online advertising is losing its cookies now too. There was (and maybe still is) some serious angst from online folk about this reality; but in 2013 the mobile crowd had the ironic luxury of designing a new data model from scratch. We designed an exchange-based model that delivers integrated first- and third-party data, enabling buyers and agencies to build proprietary cross-channel linking and targeting solutions that will help catalyze brand spend.
Premium publishers will bias private exchange as a core growth engine in mobile
Premium publishers can—and will—gain immediate leverage from mobile private exchanges. We expect up to 50 per cent of the revenue on the Nexage Exchange to come from some form of private exchange by the end of 2014, growing from 25 per cent in 2013. It is a model many publishers are familiar with in online. It gives them superior brand safety and price controls and they can easily run complementary online and mobile private exchanges. Massive gains in mobile liquidity mean that private exchange won’t pinch revenues; it will simply allow publishers to better shape the revenues to fit their priorities.
Developers will execute smart ad strategies to maximize lifetime value (LTV)
LTV is a core measure of business health, and app and game developers are increasingly using it to understand how well they are monetizing their customers. It has become an even more important measure as up to 95 per cent of customers do not contribute to in-app or subscription revenues, and large inactive customer bases weigh on results. The focus on LTV will alter mobile ad strategies. It will lead to a more concrete discussion about smart ad strategies that consider brand safety and ad quality risk; increase reengagement ads to existing customers to promote usage and in-app purchases; and implement ad ops best practices related to ad type (rich media/ video). ad placement, ad frequency, time-outs, and the exposure time of the ad.
Smart ad strategies will also affect which developers acquire, moving customer acquisition from an ad hoc approach to an approach that targets customers more likely to stay active and productive.
Agencies and buyers will get mobile creative
There was hope that investments in online creative, landing pages, and commerce workflow (among other things) would easily port to mobile. They didn’t. And that lack of mobile investment had a direct impact on mobile results. Late in 2013 and now in 2014 a shift is underway. More targeted mobile investments—such as mobile creative (especially rich media and video), mobile sites and landing pages, and a focus on user experience to drive mobile commerce and other mobile transactions—will drive immediate and impressive mobile gains.
Progress in attribution will open the floodgates
There is a lot of work being done to provide a sound and rationale attribution model to help brands accurately understand the value of their mobile campaigns. A pragmatic approach much like that in TV—and the ability to capitalize on big data (through different methods of correlating click and post-click transactions)—will provide the requisite confidence to begin opening the floodgates to brand spend.
Cross-channel will be a strategic imperative; mobile will be a distinct spend
Ultimately, the goal is to engage the consumer as they go about their day—as they move across their devices and across media. The customer-centric approach necessarily drives cross-channel strategies. The question is how those strategies will be operationalized for the different media (e.g., TV, radio, online, mobile, etc.). The overall strategy, media mix decisions, and broad campaign management structure will be cross-channel; but the creative, decisioning, tactical campaign execution, and spend will be channel specific for practical reasons. There will be distinct radio spend, TV spend, online spend, and mobile spend – just like there will be distinct channel attribution to govern media mix.
In 2014, there may be more attention paid to the differences of mobile because it is unique, it is new, it hasn’t made its way into marketers’’ “muscle memory” yet, and, perhaps most importantly, it is the most personal medium for the consumer.
2014: Full Speed Ahead
2013 was the year when the dust settled for mobile advertising and the road ahead became clearer. This clarity may take the “shrill” out of some of the market debate. It will move the focus from the “what” to the “how”, which is an important and positive step to driving success for each market participant and advancing the market as a whole.
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