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Why programmatic buying on mobile presents a richer world for brands

Ahead of The Drum's first ever Digital Trading Awards, created to reward transparency and efficiency in the increasingly complex digital ad ecosystem. Here sponsor, StrikeAd's COO, Gavin Stirrat discusses increasing consumer use of content on mobile platforms and the resulting opportunity now available to marketers in measuring and understanding consumers.

Mobile is one of the prime drivers for the growth of digital advertising and the incredible rise in demand that we’ve seen for programmatic buying on mobile echoes its growth on desktop. We know people carry their mobiles everywhere and the rapid growth in tablets sales means that the scope of mobile advertising now pretty much encompasses all of a person’s waking hours, in a way that desktops obviously can’t.

A recent report from Gartner in January 2014 indicates that the global tablet market is set to increase by some 47 per cent during 2014. Simultaneously, the sales of traditional PCs are also set to decline, with figures set to fall by around seven per cent. This trend for tablets to eclipse PC sales is due to the availability of affordable, sub £150 high quality tablet such as the Google Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD and Tesco Hudl that fall within the financial reach of many more consumers than the high-end iPad.

Consumers now have an insatiable desire to engage with apps on unprecedented levels. Mobile is also opening up whole new ways to understand consumer interaction that we have never been able to achieve from even the most detailed tracking online. For instance, we now know about ‘second screening’ or using apps to accompany watching TV, whether its via social media or dedicated apps like Zeebox. In retail, it's the increasing propensity of shoppers towards ‘showrooming’ - using mobile to compare prices on the web whilst in a retail store.

Increasing consumer engagement with mobile is perhaps best encapsulated by Facebook which has openly transformed itself into a ’mobile first’ business. The company said 945 million of its 1.2 billion users visit the site via a smartphone or tablet in the fourth quarter of 2013 up 39 per cent from 2012, and Facebook has said that ad revenue from mobile represented 53 per cent of all ad revenue in the quarter. According to CNN Money this was “up from 23 per cent last year, and up from zero at the time of the company's initial public offering in May of 2011”.

Mobile’s ability to pinpoint location is arguably one of its most distinguishing features over desktop. This can tell marketers a lot about individuals – whether they are travelling, shopping, at home or at work, allowing them to cherry pick the most relevant consumers who are also displaying interesting behaviours not only in terms of the digital content they are consuming but also in their real world movements.

Recent developments are highlighting the real-time location-based opportunities that mobile is opening up to brands. Apple’s launch of their iBeacon system is creating a new market in ‘hyper-locational’ campaigns. Now, any retailer can enable beacons in specific parts of their stores to transmit messages via BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) to customers who have certain apps installed. The much larger addressable installed base, plus the ability to send messages to customers when they are in a very specific part of a store or retail environment, perfectly encapsulates the new marketing world that mobile is creating for advertisers.

The good news is that the final barriers that once presented themselves to advertisers, namely in the form of tracking and lack of cookies have now been eradicated. Mobile is now a fully accountable platform offering advertisers deep insight into who and where their customers are as well as ROI. Dedicated mobile DSP’s are able to track hundreds of handset models, operating system versions, connection types, screen sizes, ad formats and other variables that need to be factored into every single targeting consideration, all within milliseconds to be able to target the right ad at the right person.

Ultimately, the real driver of programmatic buying on mobile hangs upon the ability of platforms to process the reams of ‘big data’ being created. The prodigious use of mobile apps and sites means that brands are being presented with a mountain of data that must be translated into successfully targeted campaigns. Our recent collaboration with Admobius and Factual amongst others means that we can now take this data and cross reference it with granular information on location, demographics and other behaviours to create a view of the customer like never before.

Mobile advertising’s explosive growth opens up a wealth of opportunities for brands, especially when it comes to programmatic buying. That said, it is important to establish that there are very clear differences between buying programmatically on mobile and desktop, largely due to the very unique features of mobile in terms of tracking, device variety and location awareness. Once this is clearly understood and addressed, then integrated campaigns can be properly optimised and play to the key strengths of the medium that they're working in.

The Digital Trading Awards will take place this month. Find out more at

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