PHD Mobile Director Candela Reviews Rich Media And Mobile Advertising Momentum

Sal Candela, PHDLast Thursday, Medialets announced that it would extend its mobile rich media capabilities from mobile apps to the mobile web. Read the release.

PHD Mobile Director Sal Candela discussed mobile from his media agency vantage point including rich media needs across mobile app and web environments. Has mobile finally “hit” at PHD?

SC: I think mobile has definitely started to hit, and not only here, but in other places as I was just talking with friends in the marketplace. As an industry, we still have some issues to solve. We don’t have any competitive tools, and we still have challenges with tracking. But I think that we are in a great place in that, with smartphone penetration expected to reach over half of the U.S. by the end of this year, it’s more important than ever to be on mobile devices, because smartphones allow us to deliver rich‑media units. And just based upon the metrics that we see and the response rates that we see, if you’re not using rich‑media, you might not want to be doing mobile at this point, unless it’s a very direct response driven campaign.

What do you mean by the need for competitive tools?

In general, there really is no industry tool that allows us to get a good look at what the competitors are doing out there. And that’s usually a good barometer for marketers and advertisers to understand how their industry and/or category is spending their money in advertising. comScore has a tool right now, but it’s not that robust and doesn’t give us anything in terms of dollars spent and impression levels. It gives us a snapshot of some of the ads that they’ve been able to collect around the mobile web. Aside from that there’s really nothing out there.

So a lot of the times what I do, and what some of the teams here do, is reach out to all the mobile networks and all the mobile publishers and ask them, “Have you seen any ads that might fall into this category?” Or, “Have you seen any of our client’s competitors running on your sites or your apps?”

So it’s very much driven by communication with the networks and the partners out there.

So, what are the opportunities that mobile apps afford versus the mobile browser in a smartphone and tablet environment? Are they two different, distinct opportunities for clients?

No. Whether it’s a tablet, a feature phone, a smartphone or whatever it may be, consumers are taking these devices with them and consuming content on them wherever they are. For us, it’s about getting in front of this consumer no matter where they are. So, if they’re on the mobile web or if they’re spending time on applications, it doesn’t matter. We want to reach them with a message that makes sense and at the right point in time..

And I think that for a long time, it’s been a challenge to take a rich‑media ad and have that same execution run across both areas – both environments really. So what Medialets is doing is bridging the gap between the stuff they’ve been doing in the mobile app space and bringing it to the mobile web.

A lot of the stuff that we try to do is eliminate friction in mobile advertising. By simplifying the process in terms of being able to run one rich‑media unit across all environments of mobile, it makes it a little bit easier. And the easier it gets, the more willing the marketplace is to spend more money in mobile advertising.

Are you seeing clients allocating specifically for mobile campaigns, as opposed to being part of an overall buy?

It definitely varies. We work for a lot of different clients across different verticals. Sometimes they have a mobile product where it makes the most sense to advertise in mobile environments. But for the most part, clients come to us with an overall budget and they say, “Where’s the best place to spend this?” And they put it upon us to go do the due diligence and find out where their target line is spending time. The good news for us is that mobile is the fastest growing medium in terms of time spent by a consumer. And so while it doesn’t have a large portion of the overall budget, we’re starting to see dollars move into it.

Where consumers are spending time is where we want to be and where we want to place our ads.

About the Apple UDID decision, what impact does that have on you and your clients?

I think it really goes back to that tracking issue. Apple talks about the deprecation of the UDID, and we’ll really learn about it more when iOS 5 comes out and takes full effect. But for the moment, it has no immediate impact, but probably what it will do is just make it more complicated for tracking. In general, the industry has challenges in tracking across the mobile web and app space, and then looking at back‑end metrics based upon a conversion from those two areas. We’ll see where it all lands.

By John Ebbert

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