As Eyeballs Move To Mobile, Publishers And Marketers Still Struggle To Adapt

catherinemarketersnoteMarketer’s Note” is a regular column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem.

This week it is written by Catherine Oddenino, Analyst, AdExchanger Research.

While working on publisher-focused research, there’s a common theme I hear from vendors and publishers alike: The transition to mobile is hurting their bottom lines.

Just as some publishers are finally becoming “experts” with their desktop digital ad sales, more than half of their traffic is coming from mobile devices, leaving their desktop sales in a state of decline. In most cases, just putting the same ad tags on a mobile version of the site creates a suboptimal user experience. Ads are not likely to perform as well and users may get annoyed and jump ship, leaving publishers with even less inventory to monetize.

On the marketer’s side, they feel challenged by mobile data. As I wrote in this Marketer’s Note from June, it can feel like we are drowning in data. To make matters worse, mobile data is not yet meeting marketers’ needs. One marketer I spoke to recently expressed frustration with how far behind mobile data was compared to desktop.

“Data is our biggest challenge,” the marketer said. “It’s different from desktop data, which makes it difficult for our analyst team. If it takes three months to compile, it’s not something that I can use to optimize a campaign.”

Publishers and marketers are still not on the same page, in terms of the value of mobile. We found a gap in how some publishers and marketers view the primary benefits of mobile in our December survey of mobile advertising professionals. While 46% of publisher respondents viewed “being the only advertiser on screen” as the primary benefit of mobile, only 20% of marketer respondents agreed.

Marketers and vendors I’ve spoken to for my current report see “being the only advertiser on screen” as a given and not necessarily a benefit because they are wary of mobile’s delicate balance of becoming too intrusive on the customer’s experience.


Marketers consistently complain that there are “no cookies” on mobile. Marketers and publishers need to untether themselves from the cookie. New formats require new measurement. Trying to force legacy metrics because you finally got everyone on your team to understand the first type of digital data isn’t going to drive your business goals.

Cross-device targeting needs to become part of your marketing plans. This will require marketers to learn how to use “deterministic” and “probabilistic” data and creates a slew of privacy questions. But executing cross-device campaigns with greater accuracy will help marketers enjoy higher returns on their media spend, which should be the ultimate goal, we concluded in our recent report.

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