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Mobile Ad Delivery Gets a Whole Lot Simpler

Bob Walczak"Now Serving Mobile" is a column focused on the audience-buying opportunity in mobile advertising.

Bob Walczak is VP Mobile Product at Pubmatic.

Mobile is a massively fragmented market, making a simple action like delivering a static banner ad a fairly involved process today. At this point we have figured out the basics. When an ad server receives the request for an ad from a mobile phone it reads the browser header, looks it up in a device database of over 10,000 devices, determines screen height, width, carrier (only 1 of a 1000), OS, resolution, placement size, does it handle script or no script, location (if you have an opt-in), targeting with no cookies, and then boom sends back an ad in response across a Wi-Fi or 3G carrier network.

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How Apple Could Step Up With a UDID Replacement

UDID"Now Serving Mobile" is a column focused on the audience-buying opportunity in mobile advertising.

Eric Johnston is VP Engineering and Chief Architect with Verve Wireless.

Last October, when Apple released version 5 of its mobile operating system, hidden deep in the developer documentation was a short note attached to a system function called uniqueIdentifier: "Deprecated in iOS 5.0." It just so happens this simple function provides access to the value commonly called the UDID.

The UDID, short for "unique device identifier," is a number Apple assigns to iOS devices during manufacturing. It's ubiquitous: every iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch has one. It's immutable: it can't be changed, and users have no control over its access. The UDID has offered pretty much everything an advertiser could want for distinguishing unique users.

So when app developers discovered this small change to the documentation, all hell broke loose. Apple, of course, provided no more information than these four words, which left developers, advertisers, and publishers to speculate wildly about what it meant and when they'd be cut off from the UDID altogether.

Apple was merely putting developers on notice. The uniqueIdentifier function continued to work in iOS 5 with the caveat that it may not work in future versions. The issue was largely forgotten until a couple of weeks ago when Apple rejected a few apps for transmitting the bare UDID over the network. Though the rejections were focused on a particular use of UDID, the move seemed to proclaim Apple isn't bluffing.

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2012: A Mobile Odyssey

Now Serving Mobile"Now Serving Mobile" is a column focused on the audience-buying opportunity in mobile advertising.

Elizabeth Zalman is co-Founder at Media Armor, a mobile advertising technology company.

"The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward." - Winston Churchill

Mobile display advertising has yet to achieve the gains made by Online. A brief study of online’s history allows us to target why. Moreover, it provides a concrete approach for new growth in the Mobile space.

At the beginning of Online display, Publishers decided to monetize their sites with advertising; some inventory was direct-sold, and remnant was offloaded to ad networks. Initial integrations with networks were server-side. As technology and needs evolved for both the Supply and Demand sides, integrations had to be updated to client-side in order to support these new requirements, with the focus pivoting away from technical targeting and towards the unique individual. This onerous change led to a cataclysmic shift in the way display was bought and sold, providing 1st-party information (site visits, searches, etc) to drive ID-level decisioning. It was foundational to the amazing advances of the online space, including RTB, the advent of SSPs, and Publisher reclamation of ad space ownership, to name a few. The roots of this rebirth are firmly grounded in the move from server-side to client-side inventory integrations. [Note: RTB is a server-side integration. However, for ID-level targeting (e.g. remarketing), matching between systems first occurs client-side from the inventory partner in order to create the link between client and server, and then all further communication with respect to bidding occurs between servers. The client-side ping is vital towards identifying that unique vs. using audience-like 3rd-party targeting parameters.]

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Moving Mobile from Cool to Intelligently Hip

Now Serving Mobile"Now Serving Mobile" is a column focused on the audience-buying opportunity in mobile advertising.

Elizabeth Zalman is co-Founder at Media Armor, a mobile advertising technology company.

In January, I committed my 2012 resolutions to this readership, and my personal favorite was ensuring we hit $1B in spend.  Resolutions are wonderful, but in order to fulfill them, we have to act.

First, a story: about a week ago, I was browsing at the online site of a large luxury goods multi-channel retailer.  I put two dresses into my cart, then abandoned.  I didn’t receive any remarketing ads.  The next day, I went back to the site and bought the dresses, and right after I converted, I began getting messaged on behalf of the retailer.  The ads were dynamically rendered, showcasing the two dresses I had just purchased.  The first few times I saw them, I chuckled, but after a while, I became frustrated because the content of the messaging was borderline absurd.  Even worse, I ended up returning the dresses to the retailer’s brick-and-mortar store, and not twelve hours later, received two more ads.  Eek!

It’s relatively easy to explain this scenario away.  For whatever reason, the vendor serving the ads neglected to close the loop that I had purchased, and the content of the ads was rendered irrelevant.  Then, the offline component of my behavior wasn’t translated to the online, and the content became even more extraneous.

We live an imperfect world with respect to data.  These imperfections become even more apparent when of-the-moment bells and whistles (in this case, dynamic rendering) aren’t fed information appropriate to each individual consumer.  In the story above, the messaging itself wasn’t immaterial; it was the content.

As we look at how money is being invested in mobile advertising, it’s very much focused on these ‘of the moment’ whistles, with extremely limited intelligence feeding the technology:

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Mobile Resolutions

"Now Serving Mobile" is a column focused on the audience-buying opportunity in mobile advertising.

Elizabeth Zalman is co-Founder at Media Armor, a mobile advertising technology company.

Given that it's the New Year and I’m in jovial spirits, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my resolutions for 2012:

Resolution #1: Surpass $1B in display spend.  I feel like every year I read an article about me saying that ‘this is the year of mobile’, and every year, I can’t quite seem to get there.  Enough already!  2011 came to what, maybe $750M total?  And compare that to online’s $50B?  I know I can do better.  So I ask myself the question, how can I do better?  Which leads me to resolution #2…

Resolution #2: Move past click-through rate.  I know, I know, this is a biggie.  But we can do it.  You’re probably asking how on earth I can prove value without having conversations and writing articles focused on clicks.  Well, I’ve been industrious this year, surveying the marketers buying my ads.  They keep saying that they’d love to buy more, but find it challenging, in large part because they can’t approach mobile with the same sophistication as online.  CMO after CMO has said, ‘Mobile Display Woman, when I wake up in the morning, I don’t think about buying clicks.  Clicks don’t equate to success for me.  I instead challenge my team to find ways to acquire new customers and retain existing ones.  Most importantly, I ask them to prove that mobile display works.  Enable me to do that, and I’ll happily buy what you’re selling!’. Which leads me to resolution #3…

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The Mobile Publisher Conundrum: Native Apps Or Browser-Based?

Now Serving MobileNow Serving Mobile" is a column focused on the audience-buying opportunity in mobile advertising.

Eric Brown is co-founder of mobile display advertising company Media Armor.

Almost a year ago as part of a survey on the mobile industry, Michael Nevins outlined the display advertising channel. The fuss in mobile most recently has had a particular emphasis on the future of apps and consumer experience: what will the future be, native apps or browser-based ones? 

My opinion of the future, per se, is derived with respect to the technology and how we want it to inform consumer engagement.  Ultimately, it is about the consumer.  And so, when an Advertiser or Publisher is told that they need an app, the decision of if and what to build should come from the end goal of experience.

Defining It

To understand what the future may hold, it's first helpful to define what an application is.  In general terms an application is computer software that allows its user to interact with it.  Simple enough.  The first desktop computers had applications installed on them (e.g. text editors, spreadsheet software).  As technology improved, these stand-alone entities became integrated with the Internet, and the focus and definition of what an app was shifted.  Internet real estate diverged into two categories: content sites and web applications.  Content sites (e.g. a news site) were passive with respect to consumer interaction.  Web applications were more complex, often enabling new interactions like ecommerce and porting traditional desktop applications to hosted solutions online (e.g. Google Docs).

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Apple Just Created A Strong, Vertical Ad Network

Bob WalczakNow Serving Mobile" is a column focused on the audience-buying opportunity in mobile advertising.

Bob Walczak is the former CEO of mobile ad network Ringleader Digital and currently runs Bump Equity, LLC.

The latest change in Apple IOS 5 of eliminating the use of the UDID is a huge shift for the mobile application ad market. What this move means is that Apple has changed app targeting from a 3rd party cookie model to a 1st party cookie model. The difference between 1st and 3rd party cookies is that a 1st party cookie can only be used across a single site, or in this case application, and a 3rd party cookie can track usage across multiple applications.

A UDID is a Universal Device Identifier; the most important word in that acronym is Universal, meaning that every application on a single device shares the same ID. From an advertisers or ad networks prospective, a 3rd party cookie is relevant for tracking conversions and for building deep behavioral profiles of a user. The latest wave of audience targeting relies completely on 3rd party cookies. To go one step further, this means all of the high value, hyper-targeted advertising gets eliminated.

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As Social Grows, Mobile-Optimized Content is Critical To Publishers

Now Serving Mobile"Now Serving Mobile" is a column focused on the audience-buying opportunity in mobile advertising.

AdExchanger.com asked Michael Nevins, Senior Partner at Breakpoint Digital, a digital consultancy, to break down the mobile display advertising channel. This is the third in a series of columns devoted to mobile display and its parts.

“Search is, in my mind, yesterday’s story,” said Lewis Dvorkin, chief product officer at Forbes, which recently redesigned its Web site to make it more social. “You’re finding that today’s audience is much more interested in the filter of their colleagues and friends who they trust than an algorithm produced by someone else.” (NYTimes, 2/11/11)

My previous article, Why Mobile Web Sites Are Critical Tools for Advertisers, makes the case that mobile web sites are critical for brands.  While most major publishers have embraced mobile in some fashion, many are not paying attention to mobile web.  Growth in social media use on mobile makes mobile web sites critical to publishers.

Why critical?

Social media was the fastest growing category in mobile in 2010, both in the U.S. and EU5 (ComScore, Mobile Year in Review 2010).  Today, Facebook has more than 200 Million active mobile users, and these mobile users are more than twice as active as desktop only users (KPBC Top 10 Mobile Trends – Feb. 2011). Without referencing specific data on Twitter, it is fair to assume that my comments also extend to this audience. Clearly this audience is growing, active and can’t be ignored.

Sure, most large publishers do have Facebook and Twitter presences, they post links to web content regularly, and they have social sharing tools to encourage users to share their content via social media services.

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Why Mobile Web Sites Are Critical Tools for Advertisers

Now Serving Mobile"Now Serving Mobile" is a column focused on the audience-buying opportunity in mobile advertising.

AdExchanger.com asked Michael Nevins, Senior Partner at Breakpoint Digital, a digital consultancy, to break down the mobile display advertising channel. This is the second in a series of columns devoted to mobile display and its parts.

In my last post, Mobile Display Advertising:  Not Just Tiny Banners, I made the point that mobile websites are a critical piece of a mobile marketing strategy for almost any brand.  For this post, I’ll expand on those points in hope of making an even more compelling argument as to why brands – even those without a "mobile strategy" -need to arm themselves with a mobile web site.

1)   Mobile internet will inevitably eclipse wired Web

There are many sources of data that predict the growth of mobile data use.  Some of my favorite recent predictions:

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Mobile Display Advertising: Not Just Tiny Banners

Now Serving Mobile"Now Serving Mobile" is a column focused on the audience-buying opportunity in mobile advertising.

AdExchanger.com asked Michael Nevins, Senior Partner at Breakpoint Digital, a digital consultancy, to break down the mobile display advertising channel. This is the first in a series of columns devoted to mobile display and its parts.

Mobile display is earning an increasing share of digital spend, yet mobile advertising is often still seen by marketers as challenging to execute.  While I hesitate to reinforce this notion, there is some truth in it:  The entire mobile ecosystem is still rapidly evolving and this provides both opportunities and challenges to marketers.  Beyond the benefits realized today from successful mobile campaigns, it’s time to for all marketers to get comfortable working with mobile.  The mobile audience is scaling quickly and it seems inevitable that mobile will play a strong role across many integrated campaigns in the near future.

Over the course of several posts, I’ll provide an overview of mobile display media formats, creative and the technologies that make it all go.  Please note that I'm not addressing these formats from the perspective of audience size nor their efficacy as display media.  That will have to be another series of articles and debate for another day.

Mobile Display Formats

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