Mobile, Get Back In Line

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bob-walczak-pubmatic“Data Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Bob Walczak, VP Mobile at PubMatic.

Do we split print media into magazine and newspaper? No, and in the same way, there is no reason to split digital into mobile, desktop and tablet in 2013. This year, it’s just digital. Of course, one guy's proclamation does not mean we can move on to an all-encompassing, non-device centric notion of digital. But this is the central challenge the  digital ecosystem and all its competing partially adopted standards are facing.

How do we as an industry change the mindset of everyone in an organization to think outside the desktop box? I’ve thought about this issue a lot.

I have prior experience building a mobile only company, at Ringleader Digital. We were a dedicated team that ate, slept and breathed mobile every day. This made it easy to build a company culture that focused on solving the device fragmentation and targeting issues that still plague the market. Now that mobile is becoming mainstream, the challenge is merging a desktop culture with a mobile one and making it a unified digital industry.

Not to oversimplify the challenge, but my view is that the first thing that needs to happen is every person across the organization, and the industry for that matter, needs to start thinking about mobile. The way to do this is to get everyone every day to answer one question: “Does what I’m doing today include mobile (apply to chosen device vertical)? If yes, then define. If no, define why not.” It’s a simple concept but now that I’m tackling this challenge daily, it’s been an extremely powerful experience watching it work. People literally walk past me every day in the office and yell ‘MOBILE’.

Now that the mindset is shifting, we have to get past the next question: Is the market too expansive and complex to simply call it digital? Absolutely not. At a base level, a device makes a request and an advertiser responds with an ad. Yes, we can make this as complex as you want, but for what benefit? The concept of the one question is to not only make sure sales and operations are selling and supporting mobile, but to align the entire business -- top to bottom, sales, support, technology, finance, marketing, etc. If you isolate any one of these groups, you’ll never catch the market. Think about Windows OS8; it’s a touchscreen OS. This changes the PC to a tablet and tablet ad inventory is the most valuable in the market. Now extrapolate the impact of this innovation to every group in your organization. All groups need to accommodate the shift: finance has to adjust pricing, tech, the architecture, marketing, the messaging, support and sales, and their outreach.

The proof that it’s working can clearly be seen by how the competitive landscape has shifted, along with everything else in digital. Mobile has to date been a small business compared to desktop, and that too is shifting. The reason, I believe, is that the market is asking itself the question, “Does what I’m doing include mobile?” The answer more often than not is coming back “yes,” and everyone is now defining how.

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One Response to “Mobile, Get Back In Line”


  1. Fran Heathcote says:

    It's a reality that consumers are channel versatile and that while they may surf for various products on their mobile phones or tablets, they wont necessarily make the final purchase on this device - preferring the perceived 'security' that PC's offer.
    This means that a single and centralised customer view becomes crucial - which can only be done by taking consumers' multi-channel preferences into consideration. Integrated and cross-channel data collection points as well as data management can only grow in importance in the marketing world as we enter 2013.

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