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Are you briefing the impossible?

Opera Mediaworks


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February 10, 2016 | 6 min read

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The mobile industry has become complacent, arriving at a point where there is an expectation gap between what we’re being asked to deliver and what is actually achievable. As vendors, we’ve been too keen to insulate our client partners from the challenges we face, which has left us in a situation where media agencies are now, with all best intentions, on the verge of briefing the impossible.

Criteria are consistent across the majority of branding RFPs we receive, namely requirements for ‘premium’ publisher brands, large impactful formats, high engagement rates (aka CTR), and understandably, assured viewability across all placements. Oh, and for good measure no value exchange/rewarded media.

There’s no challenging the logic, however we do need to debate whether this holy grail of advertising actually exists.

Publisher brands matter

In this evolving ecosystem what counts as a premium publisher brand? Is it a traditional publisher like the Times or ITV? Or perhaps digital only publishers like Huffington Post? Now, maybe even social publishers such as Facebook?

It’s clearly any and all of these if it draws a big enough audience, so it’s safe to assume it really comes down to whether the publisher is an instantly recognisable household name or not. In this context genre becomes more or less redundant, if brand safety is assured it becomes a case of what’s viewed as being more important in the construction of a media plan, what the advertiser thinks, or what the user thinks?

Let’s cast the spotlight on games, which make up over a third of the most downloaded apps on the various marketplaces and are clearly identified as the most popular form of app in terms of time-spent, by researchers such as Flurry. Despite these points, games are almost universally called out as low-rent, with a popular misconception being that only a specific type of user downloads them.

To prove this isn’t the case, Opera Mediaworks commissioned a study to identify the crossover of traditionally considered premium apps, in this case Bloomberg, Net-a-Porter and Sky sports users, with at least one other gaming app installed on their device.

Premium app users with games

The results? Around half of Bloomberg and Sky Sports users, and over a third of Net-a-Porter users don’t just have one but five or more games on their device. How’s that for premium and diversity of audience? And if we’re agreed that premium publishers are categorised as being universally familiar, then surely more people have heard of Angry Birds than HuffPo or Mashable?

Click-through as the main KPI

For branding campaigns, the most common way to track how well a campaign is performing is through engagement. As there are no mouse hovers in mobile, an engagement or interaction will more often than not be a click.

Outside of performance led campaigns there are strong arguments that click-through rate (CTR) should not be the main metric for measuring success, other methods such as post click attribution, brand metrics, and footfall have been identified as offering far more validity as to whether a campaign is performing well or not. Yet, despite the intention to move in that direction, we are not there yet, so CTR remains as the most commonly used metric.

If we are therefore measuring success in these terms, we should review the spread of publisher categories in relation to the average CTRs they deliver and track the trends.

There’s no avoiding it, as an average we see traditional news publishers at the lower end of the scale, whereas games publishers are highest by some margin.

Based on these findings, if the campaign KPI is click-throughs then avoiding gaming seems an unusual tactic? The solution to this quandary is therefore to change the measurement, or broaden the media footprint.

Viewability is key

Viewability has rightly been one of the hottest topics in digital over recent years. Understandably, if an advertiser has paid for an ad slot they want to know that it is at least on view to the user.

Web browser site placements offer the biggest challenge with viewability, where placements can disappear above, below or even behind the fold before the ad assets have loaded.

Mobile offers solutions in the form of in-app advertising. With in-app placements offering viewability rates far superior to mobile web – 81 per cent vs 50 per cent according to Integral Ad Science - they are clearly the way to go whenever viewability is high on the agenda. In fact, across our own UK in-app network we expect to see 90-95 per cent + on any given campaign. Add to that the advanced functionality and targeting available in-app through SDKs and we (should) have a clear winner.


We’re not attempting to preach or fight a tide here, and we are by no means reliant on any particular format or environment to deliver campaigns, but the market soon will be unless we, as an industry can spark a collective conversation amongst everyone involved in mobile advertising to prioritise what’s most important, audience or environment. We hope that such as discussion would lead to an industry wide debate on how we can make the mobile ad economy more balanced, efficient and representative.

Mark Slade, Managing Director - EMEA, Opera Mediaworks

Tel: +44(0) 203 434 2400



Twitter: @OMWEMEA

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Opera Mediaworks

Opera Mediaworks is the first mobile ad platform built for
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