How the U.K.’s National Rail Helps Advertisers Reach Consumers at the Most Optimal Mobile Moment


You might not know it, but every time you pick up your smartphone to view content, you’re creating what’s called a “mobile moment.” These moments have piqued brand advertisers’ interests as opportunities to share relevant marketing messages on our tiny screens; but from publishers’ perspective, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to achieve these precarious, highly personal interactions.

In a recent conversation with PubMatic, Jonathan McCauley-Oliver, National Sales Manager at National Rail Enquiries, characterized how his company, a leading U.K. transportation publisher and a partner of PubMatic’s, thinks of these moments. “It’s that very impromptu moment when you pull out your smartphone and—BAM—you need to find out something very specific, in context, immediately. You have to be very aware of why mobile users are searching for information.” He also added that he is continually focused on minimizing a consumer’s dwell time on their sites because a “consumer’s window to use their phone might be limited by location, mobile service availability or bandwidth.”

Setting up the moment that an advertiser can effectively leverage for a consumer touch point also involves a detailed strategy on his company’s part. “Advertisers are often too focused on the formats and logistics of a campaign. They come to us as a trusted source in their ad strategy, so we help them see the big picture of who those mobile consumers are and what information they’re looking for at the moment.” The company is seeing a lot of success with packaging mobile inventory with highly specific parameters in order to create premium inventory packages for brand advertisers.

For example, when working with hotel chain Travelodge, they created a campaign targeting mobile users, between 9pm and midnight, who were in a Wi-Fi connection area. The objective was to pitch a local Travelodge as an option to users, who are out late enjoying their night, to stay and book a last minute hotel instead of rushing to make their last train home. “We’re providing them with the information—and the means—to plan their evening,” McCauley-Oliver described. They developed similar early morning campaigns for Starbucks and McDonald’s pushing their new coffee bean and breakfast menu, respectively.

The shift to quality inventory is a trend across the entire industry, as PubMatic’s recent Q4 2015 Quarterly Mobile Index (QMI) report revealed that advertisers are increasingly directing ad spend toward premium inventory through more transparent mobile private marketplaces (PMPs). In fact, this shift drove a 45 percent increase in weekly mobile PMP volume from the first week of Q4 through to the week of Black Friday. “We definitely saw a lot of mobile traffic around late December, as [U.K. residents] were traveling for holiday. This mobile moment was highly sought after this holiday season,” McCauley-Oliver added, in response to the report’s findings. When discussing private marketplaces, he also commented, “PMPs are the next step… something we will be doing a lot more of in the coming quarter. Whenever we do have a PMP, it works well—we see an increase in yield and the advertiser is guaranteed high-quality inventory.”

McCauley-Oliver also added that there are challenges in setting up a PMP. “Someone needs to take ownership of the PMP—set up the deal, market the deal and run the execution. You need a partner.” Overall, he feels empowered by leveraging technology to drive monetization for his business. “With the right tools in place, we’d like to be able to say, ‘you can trust our content.’”

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