Tesco first to trial Weve’s real-time mobile display ad targeting service

EE, O2 and Vodafone’s mobile marketing and wallet joint venture Weve has kicked off its first ever display ad targeting service with Tesco as its beta partner.

The supermarket giant is the first of six beta partners to trial the new service, which will let it run highly targeted mobile campaigns across the combined opt-in customer base of the three mobile network shareholders, which currently totals 22 million.

All mobile display ads, which span a variety of media-rich formats including video, will be traded programmatically, with Weve buying inventory from several carefully vetted mobile exchanges for the beta trials including Adfonic.

Weve’s head of product Sean O’Connell told The Drum the company has spent the past nine months examining the challenges in the mobile display ad market with the view to ensuring the proposition was geared towards rectifying each issue.

One such issue is the fact that tracking and measurement in the online ad industry has always been reliant on cookies – a method that doesn’t translate to mobile.

“Through Vodafone, O2 and EE we have a treasure trove of data and we will be using that to build our verified segments,” he said.

Currently the only way to buy mobile display is from statistical data which is all based on probability, according to O’Connell.

“If you’re a Candy Crush player for example there is a 65 per cent likelihood that you are female, and if you pull enough of those data points together you have a reasonable chance of building a profile, but those are based on statistical models. This is the first time we can provide verified data on demographics, and our accuracy rates will be at the 90+ per cent mark. We think we have cracked it,” he said.

The new service has also been designed to circumvent the current fragmentation issues across mobile apps and mobile browsing, offering brands a single user ID across all platforms and devices, with which they can then implement techniques such as frequency cap ads more effectively.

Another major goal is to feed back insight to brands to ensure they can steer clear of the current “pay and spray” approach rife in the mobile ad market, according to O’Connell.

“Since we [the market] haven’t been able to target or measure effectively brands have ended up in a pay and spray approach – similar to what happened in digital where people end up chasing clicks.

“Anyone who has worked in ad ops in mobile or desktop knows that if you want to use click rates as a measure for success you can go hunting down for people with fat fingers that play a lot of games – you can go after them and that then makes your mobile marketing look more effective.

“But we will feed back to the beta partners detail on who has seen the ad and engaged with it either via clicks or other measures – to deliver rich insights back to the brand,” he added.

The Weve team will also work closely with brands and agencies to encourage better mobile creative, with the market currently flooded with badly conceived mobile ads that are predominantly just repurposed from online display ads without considering the differences in how people behave on mobile devices.

“The challenge at the moment is a creative one – when was last time you saw a mobile banner ad you can remember? In a world where people are cutting and resizing display ads for online for mobile there is a lot of not very good creative going out into the market.

“Our absolute goal is to provide the data and measurement to encourage brand spend to come into mobile and we want to talk to brands to take the standard of mobile creative and make it way more compelling.”

Weve also harbours plans to encourage brands to allocate more of their CRM spend into mobile, and also plans to layer on additional data to the proposition over time.

Initially the focus will be on demographic data of age and gender before expanding to social segments such as ABC1s, and supermarket catchment areas and TV regions. It will also look to continue layering additional contextually triggered forms of data and behavioural data.

After the beta trial the plan is to spark conversations with publishers to discuss how it can help them monetise and better understand mobile inventory and analytics, according to O'Connell.

The platform is also gearing up to reveal details around its wallet and loyalty plans in the coming weeks. Brands including Coca Cola have been working closely with it over the past year to trial its already available SMS message ad targeting service.

It is yet to reveal the names of the remaining beta partners, whose campaign will be triggered once Tesco’s has rolled out. An opt-out feature has been built into the service.

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