Yes, mobile is complex and fragmented between its apps and its WAPs, its platforms and the sheer number of devices that can impact ad delivery. But publishers should not despair or in any way not put mobile as a top priority for their development queue due to fear about monetization challenges. There is a reason why eMarketer upped their spend number for 2012 from $1.8 to $2.6 billion: they saw that some publishers (ie. Google and Facebook) were beginning to truly focus on all that usage, and starting to make money off of it.
There’s also another clear factor at work: a huge shift from the phone as communication mechanism to that of a multi-faceted media device. We passed a major milestone according to Nielsen in February of this year when 50% of mobile phone owners now owned smartphones. And as we all know, those sort of phones change everything: how people communicate (even more texting!), how they get information (weather and sports not on the 10s as in the old media world but whenever and wherever you want them!) and most importantly how people shop. According to Nielsen’s data release in July, 89% of people with smartphones are using them in stores. They are comparison shopping, searching for coupons, looking for retail locations and an emerging group is using the phones for payments. That means that advertising on mobile is in a unique position to influence people in the most relevant environment of all for marketers: at the point of purchase.
At PubMatic our publishing partners are clamoring for best practices in selling to a buying market that is not as sophisticated as consumers are with their new favorite device. A few simple principles apply:
- In Mobile, branded media really and truly does matter: Consumers don’t wander about as they do online and just happen upon content. They tap onto their phones media brands they know. Medical info? WebMD, News? NYT.com. The smartest publishers haven’t just focused on developing apps but have a solid and simple web optimized site – and yes, a very valuable ad is placed on that mobile “start page.” All metrics assessed (from brand impact studies to click through rates) show that mobile just works better than wired inventory as well – despite the size of the banners. Three factors apply: the lack of clutter, the focused attention on the device, and yes, the brand.
- Sell your front door: That start page is the front door to your content and it will likely be your highest valued inventory. You can sell it directly and it should generate CPMs in the range of $2 – $4 for inventory with some form of targeting. You can achieve the higher end if there is some sort of 3rd party data appended.
- Automate the selling of the rest: You will find from logfiles that people don’t go as deep into content but they may come back more often which results in a ton of pageviews that you should be selling by automation. SSPs are perfect ways to sell this inventory and you will be able to find demand partners – and control who they are along with ensure brand safety – with the appropriate tools. Right now the bulk of the buying is going on through the adnetworks who are providing the reach so many clients desire, you can selectively sell through whichever you choose to work with – or whichever one is able to clear the highest prices for your inventory.
- Context is king: With mobile impressions, we really are nowhere near as sophisticated with all of the data appending that goes on with wired inventory (due to privacy issues and the policies of various OS’s). Audience targeting cannot really be done – except by using context as a proxy for audience). If you have specific context, that will radically increase the value of your inventory. Context is the primary way that targeting is done now in mobile. Use it, make money off of it.
- Location Rules: Phones are the “with them anywhere” device and where people are is likely what they doing, ie. best case scenario, shopping. There are many permissible ways that location can be used for ad targeting. Right now we pass geo-targeting parameters to DSPs. With permission we can use GPS. We can pull coordinates off of cell towers for integration with the location mapping of companies like PlaceIQ. As the precision advances and the market grows for location-aware ads, we’ll make it all available to our publishers.
- Let the tools take away some of the headaches – especially with Rich Media: There’s a whole lot of ad sizes and phones out there and unless your ad ops team wants to add another thing to their “to do” list, a good SSP can deal with mobile tech complexity including ensuring rich media ads actually run. Rich media has reached scale across both apps and the mobile web and we are fully MRAID compliant and will be integrating MRAID2 by the end of October. Machine learning algorithms will always present better allocations than traditional daisy chaining or the static allocation of mediators. Let the machine do its job and your mobile ad sales process will just work better.
- Don’t let the ad networks take it all: There’s a reason Google has one as well as Apple, and that Millennial took themselves public. There is extraordinary promise to mobile. The publishers who develop best practices now in optimizing content for the unique ramifications of all forms of mobile devices – and figure out how to monetize it themselves – will be positioned for a world that is increasingly mobile first, mobile everywhere.