Why Mobile Programmatic Is The Next Frontier
Despite its initial technical hurdles, mobile programmatic is set to be a game changer. Columnist Alex LePage explains why.
Perhaps it was inevitable that programmatic buying would begin to take off on mobile. After all, mobile advertising is growing faster by the year, and programmatic, which is expected to be a $20 billion industry by the end of 2016, is showing no signs of slowing down.
And yet it wasn’t all that long ago that many marketers doubted whether mobile programmatic could truly work. Savvy programmatic marketers certainly recognized the promise of bringing programmatic’s unique targeting efficacy to mobile, but the general absence of cookies on mobile created technical hurdles that some saw as insurmountable.
Marketers Falling Behind On Mobile Programmatic
The uncertainty about the technology perhaps explains why some marketers have fallen behind when it comes to mobile programmatic. The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) recently released “Marketer Perceptions of Mobile Advertising” report, which surveyed more than 200 marketers, found that more than three-quarters of marketers believe that programmatic mobile is important, or at least somewhat important.
The surprising part? Only 27 percent of the marketers surveyed had actually purchased mobile ads programmatically.
The good news for the programmatic industry, and for marketers as a whole, is that the technical hurdles that once prevented programmatic targeting on mobile are now largely a thing of the past.
A variety of solutions have emerged to solve mobile’s cookie problem: client log-in, app SDKs (Software Development Kits), and mobile Web behavioral data to name a few. Tie a shiny bow around all of that with geo-location, and we’ve begun to master mobile.
So it’s a safe bet that when the IAB conducts next year’s survey on mobile advertising, the percentage of marketers who have purchased mobile ads programmatically will be far greater. Indeed, eMarketer projects that mobile will account for over half of all programmatic spending by the end of 2015, surpassing desktop.
Mobile Programmatic’s Real Promise
Why do eMarketer and plenty of others anticipate such rapid growth for mobile programmatic? For one thing, brands that have had great success with programmatic marketing on desktop simply can’t afford to ignore mobile if they want to reach their customers.
Next year the number of people across the globe who use smartphones is expected to exceed 2 billion, and it’s no secret that we’re spending more and more time on our phones and other devices. Turning to mobile programmatic, in other words, is essential for marketers who want to keep up with the ways people interact with technology.
But to suggest that mobile programmatic is only about keeping up is to miss the true promise of combining sophisticated targeting with mobile devices.
Brands can gather data and intelligence about their customers that is much more thorough on mobile than on desktops. The data collected from mobile is also much more complete than from desktops. This speed and thoroughness can make the critical difference between a conversion and a missed opportunity.
And that’s really just the beginning of what’s possible with mobile programmatic. While most marketers are presumably aware that mobile programmatic offers improved geo-targeting, what some marketers don’t yet know is that mobile programmatic now makes it possible to target users even based on where they are within a store.
Imagine a cereal brand serving an ad with a discount to a consumer as he or she walks down the cereal aisle, and you begin to get a sense of how mobile programmatic will be not only a hot trend, but a true game changer.
The takeaway is clear enough — or at least, it should be: Mobile programmatic will play a leading role in connecting more effectively with consumers. The information we can now glean through client log-in data, app SDKs, mobile Web behavioral data, and most importantly, geo-location presents us with a very clear picture of consumer interest.
A surprising number of marketers haven’t yet caught up to this new reality. When those marketers connect the data, mobile programmatic’s growth may surprise us all again.