[Column] Daan Onland: 5 Key Ad Tech Takeaways from Mobile World Congress
Door Daan Onland
While MWC is still obviously a playground for the large mobile phone makers and telecom companies, the event is also attracting an increasing number of ad tech providers, publishers, advertisers and agencies. The buzz around this year’s edition was even reminiscent of DMexco in the early days.
But with any event so large, the amount of information can be overwhelming. That’s why Improve Digital’s Daan Onland has intrepidly returned from MWC with a few key ad tech takeaways. If you didn’t go, this is what you missed, and if you did go, this is what you shouldn’t have missed.
1. The big telcos are getting into ad tech; they are what to watch:
As we continue to witness the convergence of media, tech and advertising that mobile technologies are driving, it’s perhaps unsurprising but significant that those same mobile technologies would start moving into advertising technology as well. Several telecom companies, such as Verizon, Telenor and Sintel are already dipping their toes into the ad ecosystem, and the latest to announce that move was Ericsson with its new mobile ad platform specifically designed for telcos.
As telecom companies recognise and try to monetize the mountains of data they are sitting on, and brands and agencies clamour for more quality mobile data, the direction that this trend takes could change the entire ad tech industry.
2. Mobile video advertising is the next big revenue and branding opportunity
Another broad industry trend highlighted at MWC is the rise of mobile video advertising and its potential to become the type of premium digital advertising opportunity both advertisers and content providers have been looking for. While mobile advertising is still being dominated by installs-based campaigns (CPI), the growth of video advertising in mobile seems to be opening the doors for branding budgets and, as such, making mobile more than a performance-based channel for marketers. As marketers start to see mobile video ads as a means of generating brand awareness, it’s a format that looks primed to off-set mobile revenue challenges across the industry.
3. In-app monetisation still a challenge for traditional (news) publishers
Based on the shear number of in-app attribution and analytics companies exhibiting at MWC, in-app monetization is dominated by performance driven advertisers, who are heavily focussed on driving instalments of their apps and decreasing the associated CPI measurements. These advertisers are also often publishers themselves. Think of gaming apps, which act as advertisers within other apps but also act as supply sources as they have their own app where they sell their own inventory to advertisers.
Looking at traditional news publishers and their ability to attract budgets from traditional brand advertisers we see the opposite; they seem to continue to do well on mobile web but not on in-app. For instance, Washington Post CIO Shailesh Prakash revealed that the Post generates 90% of its user growth and revenue from mobile web as opposed to in-app. This seems to be the case for most publishers as mobile web is more akin to traditional desktop monetisation in terms of technology and business models.
4. Bespoke creative could help publishers compete against the big guys
As Google and Facebook continue to claim 70 precent of every new digital advertising dollar, and reportedly even higher percentages in mobile, that begs the question of what advertising solutions publishers can offer to draw marketers away from the largest players. One of the ideas trending at the moment is offering bespoke creative. This could be an effective way for publishers to compete against the big guys while offering marketers a solution that helps them achieves their objectives. A win-win.
5. Will we move forward on viewability and standardisation?
The need to create a standard around how mobile ad viewability is measured continues to be a hot topic moving into this year. When P&Gs Co. Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard expressed frustration with the state of affairs at this year’s IAB Annual Leadership Meeting, you can be sure the industry will sit up and listen. With the IAB and MRC currently only providing interim guidelines and mobile ad networks providing their own methods of measurement, Pritchard’s plea might be the pressure the industry needs to develop a more permanent solution.
What will happen next year? In this industry, that’s anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain: with telecom companies moving ever more into ad tech, WMC is turning into a not-to-miss event on the ad tech industry calendar.