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Getting mobile programmatic right

Currently, the biggest—and arguably most important—programmatic frontier is mobile. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the smartphone-first markets of Asia. Mobile advertising campaigns require unique and quite specific device, web, and interface knowledge. Here is an explainer on some of the dizzying set of terms in mobile programmatic so we can know what they really mean.

Device and tech-level identifiers
Mobile devices provide a wealth of data around consumers’ media consumption behaviours. The key identifiers are operating system (mostly iOS or Android), handset make and model, mobile screen dimensions, pixel density, and how the device is connected to the web. Once a device is identified, extracting more data variables from the device, such as the content viewed and the type of browser used,makes it valuable for even more precise targeting. This data is important for brands keen to understand the make-up of their mobile audience, and it forms the backbone of mobile programmatic measurement.

Mobile ad inventory comes primarily from two environments, mobile web and mobile apps, and both on-device and off-device data can be measured. Mobile device information can be gleaned from the web and app ecosystems. On the app side, publishers can install an SDK (software development kit) in their apps to make sure data is collected and can be used for campaign reporting. The mobile web is slightly different as advertisers can use ad servers to track key metrics such as impressions and engagement data. In the offline world, mobile is increasing its data capabilities by hooking into other data sources such as store visits and payments.

New Pricing Models
Traditional digital media pricing models persist in the mobile ad buying world, but we’re now seeing the rise of the CPI(cost per app install) model, whilst cost per completed view (CPCV) and CPE (cost per engagement) continue to gain popularity. On the mobile web side, the CPC (cost-per-click) model still dominates. The next phase of mobile programmatic pricing could result in the adoption of mobile viewability cost metrics, where brands would pay for a mobile ad based on a guaranteed view rate.

Mobile Targeting
Targeting allows relevant, personalised advertising to be served to consumers based on different criteria. The same concept in desktop advertising applies to mobile, though the back-end mobile architecture is different. The mobile world offers brands an increased array of additional targeting options such as device (based on model or manufacturer), connection (based on mobile carrier or Wi-Fi information) and location targeting (by country, postcode, points of interest, latitude and longitude).

Mobile Ad Units and Formats
The digital advertising world has run on Flash for two decades, but has now shifted towards HTML5 as the standard for digital advertising. Not only because of its richer, more interactive, engagement elements, but also because of security concerns associated with Flash,that it has never displayed on iOS devices, and that Adobe stopped supporting it on Android. With HTML5, advertisers can display ads on both mobile and desktop, which helps to streamline ad creation.

When discussing formats and ad units specific to mobile, you will often come across the term, MRAID (Mobile Rich Media Ad Interface Definition), which is a standard created by the IAB to better manage in-app rich media advertising. Without MRAID different apps (incorporating different vendors’ SDKs) have disparate requirements in terms of the APIs that developers must use to communicate with the app,so the same creative would have to be rewritten in order to run across various apps.

The other key mobile ad units include VPAID (Video Player-Ad Interface Definition), an accepted industry specification that delivers rich and interactive in-stream mobile video ads, and native mobile ads, which have many definitions, but essentially means that the ads match the environment in which they are seen. This can be applied to promoted video, images, articles, and other media.

Mobile Deep Linking
Deep-linking is a methodology for launching a native mobile application via a link. Deep-linking connects a unique URL to a defined action in a mobile app, seamlessly linking users to relevant content. With mobile app usage booming and native seen as the future, mobile deep-linking will gain in prominence.

The future is cross-screen and cross platform
The ultimate marketing goal is to effectively execute and track cross-screen programmatic campaigns – and mobile plays a huge role. Brands want to make sure they can maximise their audience reach across both desktop and mobile to increase impact.

Cross-screen programmatic trading will evolve as more screens are added to the media mix, such as Internet-enabled televisions. This will drive brand advertisers deeper into programmatic as they seek to find the optimal marketing mix for a particular campaign across all available channels, both online and offline.

Ryan Murray

Ryan Murray is Associate Vice President of the Sizmek Media Solutions Team in Asia-Pacific, based in Singapore. The Media Solutions group includes the full range of Sizmek’s programmatic advertising offerings. He was formerly a senior VP for mobile DSP StrikeAd, which Sizmek acquired in May. An early employee at StrikeAd, he was the company's U.S. Sales Director before moving to Asia in 2014.