The mobile display advertising space has been continually predicted to “take off” for the last two years. But with a 17% average fill rate, advertisers are clearly still hesitant about aggressively investing in mobile. With the recent advent of several improvements in technology, the hockey stick for demand in mobile display may now be closer than ever before.
Why have advertisers been slow to adopt mobile? While there are many issues to be resolved in mobile, such as the lack of real-time bidding, two main reasons stand out.
First and foremost, has been the inability to know who an advertisement reaches. Cookies on mobile devices are actively wiped by the many mobile operating systems, making identification of a viewer over a long time period difficult. This lack of history makes audience identification and targeting challenging as well. Advertisers find it difficult know who they are reaching, and with what frequency, so they are only willing to pay RON prices; publishers can’t identify which part of their audience they are selling so they can’t demand the higher CPMs they are used to getting for online inventory.
Second, the inability to measure brand and purchase lift in mobile has been limited. Click through rate (CTR) has been used as the default success metric in mobile. But as multiple studies have shown, there is no correlation between increases in CTR and increases in either brand or purchase lift. This inability to measure success on the most critical metrics for brand advertisers means that it has been well-nigh impossible to attribute an ROI to mobile campaigns.
For a CMO today, given the audience targeting capabilities online and the ability to provide a clear ROI for those campaigns, going to a CEO and trying to explain why you can’t provide this same data-driven result in mobile is uncomfortable. So while everyone knows mobile is a strategic platform, you can only justify spending a limited amount of strategic advertising dollars.
However, mobile ad networks are beginning to deploy technologies which make calculating ROI for mobile campaigns easier. Substitutes for persistent cookies are beginning to appear, thus allowing tracking of a viewer over a longer period of time. These include “cookie-like” technologies that exist where OSs can’t reach them, or the use of geographic patterns to identify a specific device. With these technologies, audience reach can be known. Advertisers will be comfortable paying more for inventory and publishers will be satisfied that they are earning a fair price for their inventory.
At the same time, new methodologies for attribution and measuring brand or purchase lift post-campaign are appearing, thus providing a justifiable campaign ROI a CMO can leverage. Some of these are survey-based, others are technology driven, and some combine both. Whatever method is used, the ability to tell an advertiser the exact impact of their advertising campaign will take mobile display out of the strategic investment category and into the mainstream.
Assuming that ad networks and technology vendors deliver these technologies, the promise of mobile display, so long in coming, may finally have arrived.