DataXu Mobile Love Tour: The Top Five Themes in Discussing Mobile Advertising


By Whitney Jones

During the first half of February, DataXu and our partners (MoPub, Celtra, and Collider) hosted three panel events across the country. We discussed the value of exchange traded media to mobile advertisers and postulated about the future of mobile advertising in general. These discussions featured panelists from all parts of the mobile ecosystem – the points of view were diverse; however, a few themes bubbled up.

#1 We’ve got an attribution situation. Marketing efforts are evaluated on their impact against key performance indicators established by their organization.  In most channels, marketers have gotten very good at attributing impact back to these efforts. Mobile is an outlier. Advertisers are used to connecting the dots in display and search – but with the variety of platforms and nuances in app vs. mobile web, advertisers are looking for a crisp solution which will allow them to compare performance in mobile against performance in other channels.

#2 “Buying mobile media is still like the wild wild west”…direct quote from our Chicago panel. The questions are, who will be the driver of standards in mobile and what will they be? This sentiment likely will resonate, not just with buyers, but also with sellers (thought leaders looking to solve attribution, audience data, and other challenges in mobile because standards are needed here too).

#3 Audience data is on the wish list…in a big way and the mobile ecosystem is working hard to make this a reality for advertisers. It sounds like the trick will be moving beyond the cookie to an identification solution that’s scalable, works in the app space and mobile web, and works across operating systems. Thinking more broadly, any discussion about audience over the last 10 days inevitably leads to a debate about identifying audiences across devices (mobile and other) in a way that will enable advertisers to target their key segments consistently on any device. This leads us to our next theme…

#4 Mobile convergence with display vs. mobile as a unique channel. So there’s some contradiction here. Across our panels, speakers noted that mobile is increasingly going to be regarded as an integrated piece of a digital marketing strategy. Spurring this hypothesis are the concurrent use of multiple screens by consumers and the fact that mobile web has become the primary connection for a sizable sub-set of the population. On the flip side, speakers also urged us to embrace what’s unique about mobile – the fact that it’s on the go and not tied down, the implied intent of users engaging on these devices, the opportunity to be locally relevant – and not to try to put mobile into a display box.

#5 Advertisers are getting better at mobile measurement. This relates to theme #4. Commentary from our panels indicated that advertisers are seeing variances in content engagement on mobile devices, as compared to desktop web. For example, trends show lower video completion rates in mobile but greater engagement with the ads.  What do these metrics mean and how should brands interpret them? Ultimately, the take-away is to make sure that your metrics are relevant to what you want your consumers to get out of your mobile executions.

Bonus: It’s important to be a smart and educated consumer. Panelists and attendees made this point quite clear. Before making buying, selling, measuring, concepting creative, targeting or making any other kind of decision about your mobile strategy, do your homework. Understand the vendors you select and ask about their experience in the channel. Look at how your consumers behave in mobile – if not your consumers, consumers like you consumers – so you can enter your decision-making process with some context. Be aware of consumer privacy and the source of any data used in mobile efforts. Finally, use common sense!