Media Armor Closing Gap On Mobile Display Ad Measurement Says Co-Founder Zalman

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Media ArmorElizabeth Zalman is co-founder of Media Armor, a mobile advertising analytics company.

AdExchanger.com: Please talk a little bit about your background and how you all came up with the idea for Media Armor?

EZ: My career began at Dotomi, where I led the adoption of RTB and associated real-time consumer valuation as part of the Media & Analytics group.  Eric Brown, my co-founder, worked at Jumptap in a publisher and ad operations capacity, most notably working on their transition from a search to display network.

In Eric’s time there, he had noticed a sizeable gap between the types of measurement available in mobile and what advertisers had rightfully come to expect, especially as compared to online.  Furthermore, he found that advertisers were using 3rd-party auditing technologies as a stop-gap, but that those technologies were online-specific, and not appropriate for mobile.  At a minimum, discrepancies abounded.

We came to the realization that we had identified a gap in the market.  When marrying Eric’s observations with my experience in analytics, we found we had an opportunity to help traditional companies adapt digitally, e-commerce entities to enhance their advertising prowess, and founded Media Armor to focus these efforts on mobile.

What problem is Media Armor solving?

Our goal is to enable the efficient use of mobile by traditional and digital advertisers alike, in both a consultative and measurement capacity.

Can you talk in a bit more detail about the specific measurement challenges in mobile display?

Allow me to set straight a common misconception: mobile display can be measured with the same rigor and accountability as online, provided the same approach and assumptions from a technical perspective are not relied upon.  Due to a long-running history of discrepancies and an inability to identify uniques on a consistent and persistent basis, the industry has settled into an ‘ah, well’ type of yearning.  I can definitively tell you that metrics such as view-through, post-impression site visitation, essentially anything that creates a timeline of consumer behavior at the ID-level, are alive and kicking.

How does Media Armor differentiate yourselves?

We facilitate the adoption of mobile display into an advertiser or agency’s repertoire by solving three challenges:

  • Measurement of ROI
  • Analysis and optimization at a global level
  • Unified reporting across all media buys

Mobile display works, and our services enable companies to measure the impact their advertising dollars have in this remarkable space in a straightforward fashion.

Please provide a use case of how Media Armor would work for a client.

One of our clients is a storied American outdoor living company.  This organization had previously embraced mobile with a branded app, and decided to expand their presence by building a mobile site.  In support of that launch, they chose to invest in mobile display.  We have been tasked with measuring and isolating the impact of those mobile display buys on site visitation and ongoing brand engagement.

So, would you say your company's product is about providing attribution metrics and models?

No, attribution is a zero sum game. While it is an understandable approach used to eliminate vendor double-payment through accounting methodologies, it does not address the real reason why advertising is bought: an attempt to incentivize consumers to do more of something, whether that is engagement with a brand, conversion, or any other metric of success.

Media Armor’s objective is to expose the upside and new possibilities of mobile through measurement.

Any thoughts about taking the analytics product across digital channels -or even offline, too? Wouldn't that be ideal for multi-channel campaigns?

Absolutely.  Following the path that display and email have taken is an obvious way to go.  Many of the big data companies with national consumer data (again, data is the most important asset) have acquired new media companies to not only produce cross-channel campaigns, but also to measure them (e.g. Experian acquired CheetahMail and has a strategic partnership with Yahoo).  It’s only a matter of time until mobile is included in this cross-channel measurement.

Moreover, we’re already beginning to see that convergence taking place at the unique level.  It’s quickly becoming less of a conversation about how a consumer accesses the Internet, but about the consumer themselves and their experience with a brand.

There has been a lot of hype in mobile but it seems like the mobile channel or industry, if you will, is finally becoming "real." What are some of the key triggers to mobile advertising - and display in particular - finally getting traction?

When mobile advertising first took off, the medium was viewed as an informational vehicle and excellent for mobile consumables (ringtones, wallpapers, etc).  The debut of the iPhone and the subsequent evolution of devices with superior capabilities provided a way for advertisers to create new engagement with consumers via applications and rich media capabilities.  And now with HTML5 and continued enhancements, advertisers can take advantage of a fully-baked mobile experience, including unfettered m-commerce.

It’s quite exhilarating to see how trends are unfolding.

  • Q4 2010 marked the first time in history that PCs were shipped in lower numbers than smartphones and tablets combined (The Business Insider).
  • Of the 4 billion phones worldwide, over 25% are smartphones.
  • Over 234M of the US owns a mobile device (comScore).
  • Mobile internet usage is projected to overtake desktop usage by 2014 (Mashable).
  • In some developing countries, mobile devices represent the only source of internet access.

These data, which showcase a medium that enables advertisers to touch a majority of consumers, at any time of day, and with the future potential for personalization in messaging… has there ever been a more deserving medium for advertising dollars, and in particular display?

Given the data-driven nature of your business, how does Media Armor balance the need to analyze and provide the marketer insights about their mobile display ad campaign versus respecting the privacy of consumers?

Consumer privacy is unquestionably paramount.  We are active proponents of unambiguous notification of tracking capabilities, providing a choice, and above all, empowering consumers with clear opt-out mechanisms.  Moreover, we believe that measurement capabilities should be a standalone, as non-privacy compliant data is not a necessity to inform more relevant and effective ad decisioning.

A year from now, what milestones would you all like to have achieved?

You mean other than world domination?  {smile}

Our hope is to have mobile display embraced as a valuable channel for advertising dollars.  For all the reasons discussed above, it is worthy of incremental spend as a stunning new and highly-personalized medium.  As a proponent of mobile’s potential, and given our technology’s ability to get a true read on the medium’s application for traditional advertisers, we’d like to be at the forefront of that paradigm shift.

And perhaps a hint at the boldest initiative we’re undertaking: we’ve spoken about analysis and optimization, which historically has been after-the-fact and requiring manual lifting on behalf of the advertiser.  We see no reason why that decisioning can’t happen in real-time, and are hard at work making that happen.

Follow Media Armor (@mediaarmor) and AdExchanger.com (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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