In-App, In-View And On-Point

andrewfischerData-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 Andrew Fischer, co-founder and CEO at Choozle.

In-app mobile advertising can be more efficient than the mobile web because it enables marketers to target audiences with laser-like accuracy while capturing their attention and engagement without being wholly disruptive to the consumer experience.

As people increasingly depend on their mobile devices for everyday tasks, marketers are pushing more budgets toward mobile advertising. As a result, mobile inventory is on the rise and the ecosystem is quickly developing more advanced targeting strategies. With greater integration across buy-side platforms, advertisers can now meet their target audience across all devices, keeping their ads front and center whether people are at home, at work or on the go.

The expedited growth of in-app advertising hasn’t come without challenges for marketers, naturally. Between cookies, attribution and ad format growing pains, in-app advertising faces quite a few obstacles it must clear before it can scale.

Non-Cookie World

Cookies are functionally irrelevant on mobile devices, and there’s also no universal tracking solution across the myriad of devices and operating systems.

Apple previously allowed app developers to identify users based upon the unique device identifiers (UDID) placed on every iOS device. Google, meanwhile, has its own identifier, the Android ID. Factor in other platforms and device makers, such as BlackBerry and Microsoft Windows, and it’s easy to see why targeting in mobile in-app environments is challenged by fragmentation.

With the number of non-cookie tracking tools, marketers can be overwhelmed with determining a marketing strategy for in-app mobile advertising. As data matching for mobile and cross-device targeting become standardized and universal, digital advertisers will begin to see unrivaled scale and targeting capabilities.

Attribution And Tracking

The current desktop cookie-based system has its challenges, but the core tracking and attribution in the desktop environment is largely simple and proven. That method doesn’t work in the mobile environment, especially when the bulk of mobile advertising is evaluated by the number of downloads. And the major players have yet to embrace a universal mobile attribution standard.

Starting with the release of iOS 6 operating system for the iPhone, Apple replaced the UDID with the identifier for advertisers (IDFA), which has standardized the attribution and the revenue tracking on iPhones. If targeting Android, marketers will need to leverage the Google advertising ID (AAID). 

However, with either IDFA or AAID, users can reset the ID or opt out of all remarketing by enabling a device setting called “limit ad tracking,” which restricts advertisers from using the IDFA for behavioral advertising.

And, you may have guessed, Facebook has also created its own proprietary app attribution system. Furthermore, Apple and Google both block third-party attribution companies from tracking user behavior in their respective app marketplaces – ostensibly to promote their proprietary standards and tools. 

Thus, independent third-party attribution systems largely are forced to use last-click to determine credit for any app installation – a highly imperfect method for any medium, not just mobile. 

Third-party attribution firms will continue to gain sophistication and effectiveness but will always be at the mercy of Google, Apple and Facebook. Although the measurement in mobile is challenging, marketers can cobble together real-time reporting to prove attribution.

Ad Formats

The smaller screen size inherent in mobile necessitates a unique and fitting creative strategy and execution. The smaller screen size of smartphones makes it difficult for consumers not to notice ads, but marketers need to balance that access without becoming overly disruptive, which is the major reason consumers cite for justifying ad blocking.

Considering the on-the-go medium, mobile advertisers have a short window of time to compete for viewer attention spans. If a user cannot understand a mobile ad within two seconds, messaging needs to be simplified. The best mobile creative has universal appeal and is conveyed through visual treatment alone. Users are reaping the benefits of new technology as well, as HTML5 replaces Flash as the standard for creative. HTML5 allows for reliability and better user experience, further enticing people to click on ads.

Although in its infancy, targeting, attribution and creative have all seen recent and significant improvements when it comes to in-app advertising. The complex puzzle that is in-app advertising continues to become clearer – and the explosive growth of mobile will ensure a rapid evolution of better tools and overall experiences for advertisers. 

Follow Andrew Fischer (@AndrewFischer_1), Choozle (@choozle) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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