We’ve all heard the projections; global mobile ad spend is set to triple to $37bn by 2017, accounting for half of total US digital ad budgets. The driver; programmatic buying – set to reach more than 50% of US display spend by 2017 – and the surging adoption of mobile RTB is paving the way for a new array of mobile and multi-screen strategies, based on a unique, mobile specific array of data insights.
A year or so ago, the mobile ecosystem was still finding its way, affording buyers little ability to accurately target mobile audiences across scattered mobile web and in-app inventory, now things have changed. Gone are the days of blind, arbitraged mobile media buying from ad networks and the ever-growing array of non-transparent managed mobile DSPs.
It is now possible for advertisers to gain real visibility into their multi-screen audiences and target them programmatically at scale via the exchanges, from games to premium publishers. The growth of programmatic has been powering the shift of mobile from dark art to science and driving efficiencies for both the buy- and sell-side of the programmatic landscape.
Expect both the large agency and independent desks, as well as traditional mobile specialists, to capitalise on three key trends in 2014 as they invest in the technologies and in-house expertise to build truly differentiated, multi-screen trading capabilities. These key trends are: Multi-screen data, software as a service (SaaS), and customisation.
The deluge of multi-screen data
In a mobile-first world, advertisers can uniquely leverage audience data about consumers at any given point in time, across multiple screens, making their advertising targeted, relevant and effective. By helping understand the interplay between device, location, environment and behaviour, mobile opens up unique audience insights that cannot be equally derived from a desktop. Knowing that a user travels from London to Paris twice a week, lives in South Kensington, tells you a lot about a user’s profile, far beyond the reach of a traditional desktop cookie or the approximative methodologies of third-party, pixel-based desktop audience solutions.
Mobile targeting has never been so crucial – and so straightforward. Thanks to the emergence of made-for-mobile, statistical audience identification technologies, coupled with transparent programmatic buying technologies, advertisers and their agencies are now geared up to reach their multi-screen consumers with the right message, no matter the device they’re on. Moving forward, benefiting from the deluge of big data requires both the technology and the tools to understanding it. After all Big Data means nothing unless it yields Big Insights.
The move to proprietary data activation
In this new data-driven, mobile-first world, the smart buyers, particularly on the agency side will be those that build unique value and defensible propositions via customised data activation. The same will be said for both advertisers and publishers alike, bastions of first-party data.
What do you do with all of this data unleashed by mobile devices? Do you protect it? Use it? Sell it? The answer is; All of the above?
Data requires actionable insight. This can only be achieved by working with truly self-service, transparent enterprise technology platforms – not point solutions – where buyers own and leverage their data whilst generating new data insights from every impression click and conversion. Whether first-party (advertiser or publisher-driven), second (proprietary insights leveraged from billions of data-rich bid requests and impressions), or third-party behavioural, contextual and location data, it is crucial for buyers to process, combine and analyze these data in an actionable way that yields superior results.
I believe the ability to activate and model data will be a requirement from both buyers and sellers in 2014, paving the way for a new and far simpler model the cuts across the Brand/Client/Agency/Independent/Publisher trading ecosystem – The Data Trading Desk.
By this, I mean the ability for businesses rich in data assets and media buying expertise; think agencies and agency trading desks, large retailers rich in CRM data or publishers with highly engaged, cross-device logged in audiences to take their cookies and desktop data assets and work with partners to map their desktop audiences across to mobile in a privacy-compliant way that allows for programmatic retargeting and audience extension in mobile. Data owners, whether on the buy or the sell side must harness the power of open, transparent SaaS platforms to help them build unique trading capabilities in mobile and by extension, in cross-device advertising. In this process, maintaining control and data ownership will be critical.
SaaS and the quest for customisation
Critical to the equation around data enablement is customisation. There has been a lot of talk about this in our space and I hear first-hand the challenges both buy and sell side clients have faced when looking for mobile-first platforms to empower them to build smart solutions rather than the white-labeling of an off the shelf product that limits their ability to innovate.
I believe that customisation can only be achieved courtesy of an open and fully customisable stack. I have great respect for platform businesses such as AppNexus and the way they have propelled a new wave of desktop trading specialists to build their own IP value and unique offerings that flows through their pre-laid programmatic plumbing. I am also excited to be able to offer a similar mantra of customisation rather than commoditisation for mobile-first buyers that wish to extend their capabilities across screens into mobile through the intelligent application of proprietary data and customised bidding algorithms.
To summarise, I think that true SaaS models will start to see more traction this year from mobile buyers with a desire to build bespoke bidding logic, leverage and own data at the log level and pull the levers required for them to inject proprietary intelligence pre and post bid.
And what is the upside to the supply side as a result of this customization in mobile? Higher yields and stronger bid density as the data pool becomes deeper due to new artificial intelligence powered technology stacks that bask in the ability to mine, interpret and append data sets such derived from desktop cookies.
Gareth Davies is CEO of Adbrain, and can be followed on Twitter here: @GarethDaviesRM