Happy 200th, COTM!
Mobilestance.com is honored to host the 200th Carnival of the Mobilists, the weekly roundup of the very best in mobile writings from across the blogosphere. I really can’t remember the bicentennial of the US (I was five years old at the time… something about tall ships and commerative quarters), so for me this is the real deal! Strike up the band… it’s the Bicentennial Edition of the Carnival of the Mobilists!
We’ve got a trio of entries on Google’s acquisition of AdMob (announced last week). Check out Antoine RJ Wright’s The Relevance of Google Purchasing AdMob & Gizmo5, mjelly’s Why Google got a bargain with the admob acquisition (really, $750MM was a bargin?!?), or Peggy’s Google Buying AdMob: Why They Did It & The Real Impact on Mobile Advertising, Mobile Search. Of the three, Peggy really nails it with a thorough analysis and first rate news gathering – which is why her post is my pick of the week.
On the mCommerce isle, check out Mobile Banking ROI tips from Bank of America from a newcomer to our ranks, David Eads of Mobile Manifesto – a mobile banking and commerce blog. Very thoughtful post to say the least… lots of good info here. Of note, “it took [B of A] 13 months for the first 1 million customers to adopt mobile banking. The second million took 9 months and the third million took 6 months. This represents an acceleration rate of roughly 30%.” Tons more where that lil’ jem came from…
What’s next? Well, prepare yourself for everything you ever wanted to know about of The Digital Divide in Numbers: TVs, PCs, Internet users, Mobile around the world. Can mobile fill the breech? Check it out and decide for yourself. Or, if you haven’t yet had your fill of emerging economy-friendly subject material, browse over to The scarcity of learning sources is contrived, the best stuff is free. Not exactly emerging economy, but hey – I’ve got a theme going, here.
Finally, you might want to read up on why “mobile marketing is stupid, but only for people who make it stupid!” in Don’t Put The Email Shoe on the Mobile Foot. Love that quote, and that title. I also love shoes, pithy puns and mixes metaphors… but those are all topics for another time.
Whelp… that’s all she wrote. A shorty, but a… well, you know. Be sure to catch next week’s carnival over at the Burning the Bacon with Barrett… and as always, to get in on all the hot blog-on-blog action submit your mobile-related stories to: mobilists [at] gmail [dot] com.
Mobilestance is proud to host the 172nd edition of the Carnival of the Mobilists
For the uninitiated, the Carnival of the Mobilists is a weekly roundup of the very best in mobile writings from across the blogosphere. It’s been over a year since we last hosted the Carnival, and we’re happy to say that it’s still going strong… with over a dozen of posts to choose from we’ve got our work cut out for us, so let’s get started!
iPhone iPhone iPhone. If all the frenzy around last week’s Verizon iPhone rumor mill got you wondering what that might look like check out Why an iPhone Deal with Verizon Wireless Would Be Cool. What’s that? Had enough iPhone hype for one week? Then give a read to The Others: Where Android, Symbian and Limo Are to satisfy your fix of “All Things (not) iPhone.” Proof that there’s life beyond that shinny little game changer from Cupertino. Both are courtesy of Volker on Mobile Entertainment.
App Haps. If monetization of mobile apps turns you on, then head over to About Mobility and check out On Mobile Applications, Platforms and Monetization -“Show me the Money.” A very well thought out piece that really puts the space(s) through the paces. So good in fact, it’s our POST OF THE WEEK. Nice job, CEO – really top shelf!
Allaboutiphone.net does a great job breaking down why barcode scanning is easier on Android than it is on iPhone in Barcode Scanning and Shopping with the iPhone, including some alternative approaches developers have taken to work around limitations in the current iPhone SDK. Hopefully things will change with the release of the “new batch of iPhone goodies” heavily rumored to come out this June/July?
Finally, Wild Illusions lays down some quality coverage of the medical App and services landscape in Mobile Pearls vol. IV: Mobile Healthcare Edition. This sector is about to explode with the release of iPhone 3.0 this summer and its support of external hardware, so a very timely post to be sure.
Mobile Marketing & Advertising. Over at London Calling: the Mobile Advertising Blog you’ll find a mobile marketing cautionary tale worth reading, or – why marketers need to REALLY pay attention to privacy in mobile, and not just give it the lip service that usually passes for “privacy concerns” in other digital channels. Consequently, it’s experiences like what’s described in this post that have informed my decision to never do business with SMS list brokers, regardless of what they tell me of of double, triple or even quadruple opt-in. Sorry list-brokers, not only do I just don’t believe you, but all that opt-in language largely misses the point that consumers aren’t ready for most mobile push tactics, period.
A pair of posts on those aggregators of mobile ad inventory many seem to love to hate (myself not included!). Mjelly has a nice post on The Rise of Mobile Network Aggregators, while Mobile Broadband Blog makes some good points in iPhone – a Boon to AdMob.
Mobile Web. Open Gardens publishes a piece on Harnessing Digital Footprints – the Dark Side of Web 2.o, while Dennis at over at WapReview posted a terrific review of dot mobi’s WordPress plug-in for mobilizing WP blogs. The Dot Mobi WP plug-in looks fab and I can’t wait to try it out (mobilestance is also a WordPress site)… although if it means updating my WP I might have to pass.
Handsets and Hardware. Only one post this week on the hardware side of the house, but it’s a real gem in “From MotoLozr to MotoRcvr via MotoTxtr: How to Prevent the Slo-Mo Suicide of Moto the Grand” from Communities Dominate Brands. In this age of commonplace bankrupcies of iconic American brands like Chrysler and Citibank, this is a very well thought out, well written and poignant piece on the OEM so close to our hearts. Our RUNNER UP FOR POST OF THE WEEK, and just by a hair!
Data & Resources. Anyone in need of a place to start in mobile SEO should check out The Place to Be: Mobile Search Engines and Portals Where You Should Register Your Site, while Little Springs Design gives a great update in Inspiring Articles in Mobile Design.
Chetan Sharma drops a new version of the thoroughly comprehensive Global Wireless Data Update. Everything you always wanted to know about ARPU, but were afraid to ask! Speaking of comprehensive… Ubiquitous Thoughts, in “It’s Been a Busy Time for Mobile Learning, but a Good Time,” pulls together a ton of great resources for those in the Mobile Learning space.
So there you have it. Carnival #172 in all it’s glory. A shout out to next week’s carnival host, RadVision VoIP Survivor… and as always, to get in on all the hot blog-on-blog action submit your mobile-related stories to: mobilists [at] gmail [dot] com.
Separate Moves By Nielsen, DoubleClick and AdMob Significantly Enhance the Mobile Web’s Viability as an Advertising Medium.
It’s as if three of the biggest leaders in digital marketing huddled up last week and decided to tackle some of the thorniest issues facing the ad-supported mobile web. “Nielsen you go left and take unduplicated audience tracking… DoubleClick, you go long and take third party ad network integration… and AdMob, take the right post and hit mobile site analytics.”
Nielsen, wasting precious little time integrating Telephia’s mobile web tracking suite into their existing wireline web tracking tools, released their “TotalWeb” analytics product last week. The new Nielsen product boasts the ability to track unduplicated audience across over 200 major PC and mobile web sites, a first-of-its-kind achievement and a highly significant milestone in the evolution of the mobile web as a marketing channel. Could this put Nielsen out in front of comScore in digital?
To show off their new product, Nielsen announced some fairly interesting “% [reach] lift” stats produced by mobile web sites complementing PC sites – in various content categories. While on the average, PC sites increased their reach by an impressive 13% via the mobile web, results differed widely by content category. Weather and Entertainment (both seeing 22% lift) led the field, followed by Games and Music (15% lift each), Email (11%), Sports (10%), Business Finance (4%), Social Networking (3%), Search (2%), and Shopping / Auctions (1%).
A few things about these findings immediately jump out to me:
- Some of the categories assumed to be the most significant either to the mobile context (shopping) or the early-adopting demo graphic (sports, business), appear to be less about reach (when used in tandem with online) – and more about frequency and/or sales channel development.
- Surprisingly, the Weather category (a mainstay of the mobile web and tops among individual site traffic stats) is tied with Entertainment (historically a relatively weak performer in mobile web stats) in terms of “% lift” (when combined with online). I’ve no decent explanation for this apparent outlier, but unsubstantiated several theories come to mind.
Next up is DoubleClick, who announced their mobile publisher-side solution “is integrating with mobile ad networks including AdMob, Google’s AdSenseTM for mobile content, and Millennial Media’s premium MBrand network as well as its DecktradeTM performance network.” Similar to how DoubleClick enables online publishers to segment and doll out their available advertising inventory to a variety of ad networks and third party resellers, the move aims to improve inventory fill rates, a key concern among mobile publishers, by way of a rules-based dashboard. The idea is that mobile publishers will be able to garner the highest CPMs and fill rates possible by optimizing their inventory across a variety of independent sales channels.
No doubt the move is a welcome one and is absolutely needed for the long term viability of the mobile publishing industry, it will be interesting to see if the move actually helps mobile publishers in the short term in light of the existing glut of mobile ad inventory. That said, apparently DoubleClick is not (seemingly) short on publishers interested in their new solution, as (while none have yet signed on to use the platform), they have informed us that no less than five major mobile publishers had inquired about the system before the announcement was 24 hours old.
Finally, we have AdMob, who announced their new mobile website analytics tool set, aptly named “AdMob Analytics.” The move is highly reflective of their (admirable) determination to be “The Google of Mobile,” in that AdMob appears to be using Google Analytics as its model. By design, the tool is aiming to be easy to use, accurate and dependable, and above all else… FREE! Any of you mobile publishers out there who got a notice from Hitbox in the last few weeks can attest to the value of that last one (what is it about Omniture that just rubs people the wrong way? Oh yeah… something about contracts renegotiation by decree).
While only in beta, AdMob Analyitcs is set to provide the mobile web community with something it desperately needs: decent and affordable site stats. Clearly AdMob will benefit from a system where mobile publishers can easily understand how their campaigns are performing (where their traffic is coming from and what its doing once it gets to their site), but so will the rest of the ecosystem.
All in all, a pretty good week for the mobile web.
A New Twist on a Familiar Tale.
Agencies are often confronted with a common challenge when drafting a mobile advertising plan: Should they go to the mobile ad networks, or should they attempt negotiate directly with the individual mobile publishers? Both have significant advantages and limitations that Agencies would be wise to keep in mind when planning and executing their mobile marketing plans.
Mobile Ad Networks. As mobile often commands a relatively small percentage of an advertising budget, most agencies do not usually have the internal resources to plan and negotiate sophisticated mobile advertising plans on a publisher by publisher basis. This challenge is compounded by the relative inefficiency of the mobile advertising marketplace. Overwhelming manual, most mobile RFP processes are just beginning to become formalized – and even when established, usually require the agency to juggle multiple phone calls and emails to each individual publisher in a plan.
That said agencies look to mobile ad networks, such as AOL’s Third Screen Media, Ringleader Digital, AdMob or Millennial Media to streamline this process. By aggregating and bringing to market large tracts of mobile ad inventory, Mobile ad networks play a highly important role in the mobile advertising ecosystem. However, while these networks greatly simplify the process of mobile advertising planning and buying for the agency, Media Buyers cannot rely on the networks alone to provide objective media planning services, as the two often have conflicting interests.
This is because while both ad networks and individual publishers share the goal of extracting the highest price for their advertising inventory that the market will bear, ad networks are also faced with the daunting task of satisfying a large network of highly dissimilar mobile publishers. The networks risk losing publishers to rival networks should they fail to sell a certain percentage of each publisher’s inventory. This creates a potential conflict of interest between the network recommending the most targeted and effective inventory, versus recommending inventory solely on the basis of appeasing their publisher base.
Buying Direct. While more time consuming, Agencies negotiating media plans directly with individual mobile publishers can also reap tremendous dividends for their clients. As is the case with online media planning, individual mobile publishers such as The Weather Channel, ESPN and The New York Times often provide a much higher level of integration than that offered the ad networks, including access to exclusive editorial content, custom promotional programs, as well as highly integrated, cross media campaigns.
It should be noted that a common misperception is that “buying direct” from individual publishers automatically results in huge price advantages (versus purchasing mobile ad inventory through an intermediary such as a mobile ad network). In fact there is should be no price advantage in either model, as publishers must “sell” their advertising inventory to ad networks (for resale) at significantly discounted rates versus those found on the open market. Furthermore, considerable market pressures encourage mobile publishers to establish identical price floors for both their internal sales forces as well as any external sales channels, such as mobile ad networks and other resellers.
Recommendations. Obviously both the Mobile Ad Networks and the Individual Mobile Publishers play important yet highly differentiated roles in the mobile advertising value chain – with the networks providing the broadest reach, while the individual publishers providing increased promotional and mobile content integration.
Clearly then, best practices dictate that agencies should utilize both Mobile Ad Networks and individual mobile publishers in the planning and execution of mobile advertising plans. Agencies must cultivate relationships with key mobile portals if they are to bring innovative integrated mobile advertising opportunities to their clients. Additionally, Agencies should also look to Mobile Ad Networks in order for their mobile campaigns to achieve desired levels of scale and reach.
That said, Agencies need to take the time to scrutinize each site recommended by the networks by respectfully requesting a rationale its inclusion. At a minimum, mobile ad networks sites should be able to provide agencies with an aggregated site demographic or content target data as justification for inclusion in a plan.
Verizon, FOX Take on Additional Sales Partners as US Mobile Ad Inventory Glut Continues.
Millennial Media recently announced an agreement with Verizon Wireless which allows the ad network to begin selling a portion of the carrier’s on deck mobile ad inventory. Prior to this move, AOL’s Third Screen Media was the only third party repping Verizon Wireless inventory. It is believed that Third Screen will continue to sell a portion of Verizon’s on deck ad inventory as well as act as the carrier’s primary ad server.
In a similar move, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based mobile ad network (and white-label search provider) JumpTap announced that had signed deals to sell the mobile ad inventory of both NBC Universal and FOX’s Mobile Entertainment Network (which includes Jamba, as well as mobile extensions of FOX programs such as Family Guy and 24). Millennial Media currently is FOX’s exclusive third party sales partner for all FIM mobile sites, such as mySpace mobile, FOX Sports and rottentomatoes.com.
All these moves would be enough to drive media planners crazy, if only they were paying attention – and therein lies the heart of problem. With well more than half of mobile ad inventory going unsold over any given period, its no wonder publishers are feeling a little antsy about the ability of their sales partners to close the deal. And why aren’t buyers buying? That’s really the question, and we’ve a hunch the publishers wont find relief simply be adding additional sales partners.
For our friends on the supply side of the mobile advertising market, we offer the following advice:
- First, you must accept that you are selling a niche media product – a situation that probably will continue for the next three years at a minimum. This means stop with the “reach story.” Stop telling buyers that “over 250 million US consumers own mobile phones” and start with a more sophisticated segmentation strategy that tells buyers that you can efficiently deliver a specific audience against their specific needs. You’ve already got a solid out-of-home story, but why not do what the niche cable nets and magazines do – start by investing in some real research that shows how your audience indexes against specific product categories (MRI would be a good start).
- Second, try really experimenting with pricing models other than CPM. Sure, AdMob and a few others have brought text-based CPC inventory to market, but what about getting bold and offering up display-based CPC inventory as well? This will do much to alleviate the inherent risk that buyers must accept in your untested and unproven form of media, and with most of your impressions going unsold month after month you have very little to lose. What’s more, if we’re to believe that mobile click-thrus are really averaging over 2%, then surely you wouldn’t mind putting your numbers on the line with a model that pays out based on campaign performance?
- Finally, get togther with each other and figure out a way to track uniques across all publishers, ad networks and carriers. Without this, there is no way your media fits into an (even soft) reach/frequency model – the backbone of modern media planning. Saddle up and get it together. You can’t blame media buyers for this one…
Of course, blame cannot be lopped only on the supply side of the equation. Our friends on the buying side have their work cut out for them as well:
- Stop complaining about the “unattractiveness” of existing mobile ad units. Sure, mobile banners are small – but that’s not the point. When viewed as a percentage of the screen they actually are quite reasonably-sized. Hold your phone up to your face (as one does when one browses the mobile web) and it will take on the prominence of a 65″ plasma. Unfortunately mobile is just too new a medium to start messing about with seriously interruptive forms of advertising. Waiting for Verizon to approve that full screen “roadblock” ad unit? Don’t hold your breath.
- Take the time to understand what’s really out there. Shaken by rumors of $50 mobile CPMs? You might be surprised to learn that quality mobile display inventory can be had for under $5. Still not happy with mobile ad banners? Well, folks like Greystripe have full screen units for sale, and there are plenty of content integration options with the likes of Buzzd, UpSnap and Free-411. These guys are simply dying to meet you and tell you about what they’re got for sale, so do everyone a favor and put aside 30 minutes a week to meet with them. Get smart on the mobile publishing side and your clients may just reward you.
- Finally, challenge the publishers and ad networks to craft real solutions to your clients business objectives. This means sharing (some) information on what you’re trying to accomplish on the media side in terms of strategy, reach and intended action. Too often media salespersons are simply left guessing as to what value their product can add a larger media plan. Is it any wonder they often fall short? I know from experience that these media sales people are a very creative, sharp and hardworking sort. Give them the information they need to succeed and they just might surprise you with a program that makes you both look like rock stars.
We don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we’re more than comfortable with the concept that the more things stay the same, the more mobile advertising will stagnate.
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment and continue the conversation.
Posted by: jamie wells in advertising, GPS, lbs
CBS Mobile will begin incorporating GPS and other cell tower-based location data supplied by Loopt, a location-aware mobile social networking service, as a targeting parameter for advertisers purchasing banner ads on its suite of mobile websites, such as CBS Sportsline Mobile (http://cbs.volantis.net/sportsline/) and CBS Mobile News (wap.cbsnews.com/news), this according to The New York Times. Loopt has stated that their deal with CBS is not exclusive, opening the door for other mobile publishers and ad networks to follow in CBS’s lead.
While the move is notable in that CBS Mobile becomes the first North American publisher to bring location-based mobile web adverting inventory to market, it should also be noted that Loopt is currently only available to Sprint Wireless (and Boost) subscribers on a limited number of handsets. Loopt, a Silicone Valley startup, recently raised $12MM in Series B funding.
Eagerly awaited by some, the concept of true, location-based mobile advertising has, overnight, moved from the realm of the hypothetical to the desert of the real. For years, it seems, we have all been nibbling at the margins of the issue, exploring and debating from a safe distance. Now, as this once academic curiosity becomes cold reality, we are forced to examine the issue from a more practical perspective.
- Privacy. It seems that the idea of Location-Aware Mobile Advertising cannot be explored without first discussing privacy. But while previously the focus was on generic privacy issues such as transparency and security, we are now free to explore the issue in the most concrete of terms: Has Sprint / Boost / Loopt specifically secured user permission to pass (or sell) their personal location data to third parties (such as CBS or their ad server) , or is a more dubious, “opt-out” mechanism being employed? Who will be held responsible if an unthinkable security breech occurs, such as a the “hijacking” of a user’s GPS data for malevolent or even criminal purposes? Clearly none of CBS’s major brand advertisers are eager to chart this new territory themselves, as it has been reported that (as of press time) none have purchased any of CBS’s GPS-targeted mobile advertising inventory.
- Scalability. Privacy issues aside, there will be plenty of local, regional and national advertisers saying, “Great! Where can I get some of this?” This will be good news for CBS, as their mobile inventory is likely not flying off the shelves (this assumption is based on the fact that the network currently feels the need to augment its national sales force with four mobile ad networks – Third Screen Media /AOL, Millenial Media, AdMob and Rhythm New Media – in order to begin to fill its mobile inventory). How then, will advertisers purchase the GPS inventory? How will the local ad inventory be parsed, tracked and forecasted (this, across all of CBS’s five individual sales channels no less, most if not all utilizing different (if not incompatible) ad serving platforms!).
- Economy. From the media buyer in me: How much of a price multiple does one place on GPS targeting? Will it follow current media targeting models, and increase based on the granularity of the location-targeting? Surly some areas (say – 5th ave, between Central Park South and 46th St) should cost more than say, the outskirts of Palm Desert… but how much more? Sure, we can all agree to “let the market” decide – but this is the same market that has settled on $45 on deck CPM’s and an estimated 16% monthly inventory fill situation (sources confidential)… not exactly a trustworthy market to be sure. Where’s the self-service, auction-based play on this one? (AdMob, are you listening?)
Analysis: While on its face the Loopt / CBS deal represents a minuscule number in terms of actual audience reach (not to mention reach potential… with Loopt users probably representing less than 1% of the US pop), the marketplace affects cannot be easily overstated. We’ve finally gotten beyond relatively simple questions of if or even when a major US carrier will start utilizing GPS data to target mobile ads, and into the much more interesting realm of real world applications.