Alex Rahaman, VP of programmatic for StrikeAd at Sizmek, shares his predictions for the next year in mobile advertising
Have you ever waited so long for an opportunity that when it arrives, you’re too stunned to seize it? Then you know exactly how marketers felt in 2016 when mobile finally took the display advertising crown, outpacing ad spend on desktop by an impressive £40m.
After years of anticipation, early advocates were vindicated, sceptics converted, and the industry gripped by the potential of a mobile-driven future. Yet planning for that future wasn’t easy; we knew the path ahead would be mobile but not what direction it would take. Now that the dust has settled, a clearer picture is emerging. Technological advances such as automated trading are bringing more efficiency and accuracy to mobile marketing, while the lure of swelling ad budgets is creating fresh challenges in the form of app-focused fraudsters. In the wake of mobile’s coronation, let’s take a closer look at the trends 2017 will bring.
Mobile will go programmatic
One of the many benefits of mobile is its reach – smartphone usage in the UK now tops 80 per cent – so it’s no surprise that marketers are beginning to view programmatic as a means to leverage this with large-scale campaigns. Indeed, according to the IAB, over three-quarters of marketers consider automated trading on mobile to be a vital development. Yet the same research also found that only 27 per cent of marketers have bought ads programmatically.
In 2017, this will change as marketers start to understand the importance of integrating automation with current strategy. In particular, awareness of programmatic technology’s ability to capture all conversions will grow, helping marketers to see it as an essential tool not just for amplifying brand influence, but also increasing and tracking engagement.
App fraud awareness will grow
In the first flush of enthusiasm, many marketers have set aside their fears about mobile ad security – chiefly concerns about inventory quality – to focus on data points, such as user behaviour and geo-location, instead of vetting an app’s certification status before buying. Recent research into mobile app fraud, however, has uncovered fraudulent activity in just over half of uncertified apps.
So, the first priority for marketers should unquestionably be quality, or more specifically, avoiding uncertified app traffic. What’s more, the research also disproved the commonly held assumption that certified apps are always above board, with eight per cent of apps downloaded from official stores found to display malicious activity.
Over the next 12 months, buyers will take more precautions with in-app inventory, such as using metadata from app stores to execute secure buys and exclusively purchasing ad space within apps that are both certified and considered appropriate for all ages – an efficient way to protect against fraud and ensure ads only appear beside brand-safe content.
Precise attribution will be a necessity
With greater usage of an advertising medium comes heavier emphasis on ROI. So it follows that, as mobile adoption rises in 2017, marketers will be eager to enhance the accuracy of attribution — especially when it comes to making connections between online and offline activity, such as in-store purchases and mobile interactions.
According to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, 66 per cent of visits to UK retail sites during the festive season last year came from mobile. But, a Mintel study of the same period found that only eight per cent of shoppers decided to buy all of their presents online, compared to 18 per cent who bought all presents in store. This illustrates that the impact of mobile isn’t always obvious; although not used to make the final purchase, it is often the main driver behind it.
To ensure optimal budget allocation, marketers will increasingly demand technology that helps them understand the part each channel plays in a consumer’s individual journey. Only with a detailed view of the links between online conversations and real-world sales will they be able to establish which mobile strategies are worth continuing, and which aren’t.
Rich media will fuel tech efficiency
To drive conversions, mobile ads must do more than ignite audience interest; they must inspire consumers to interact with brands. As a result, ad types that drive high interaction rates, such as rich media – proven to generate 7.4 times more engagement than standard banners – are destined to be a major focus for mobile marketers in the year ahead, and are set to drive a mobile technology evolution.
At present, the abilities of mobile operating systems and delivery platforms are sufficient for standard display, but rich media ad formats, like video or audio, require a lot more tech muscle. Over the next 12 months there will be a wave of innovation as providers work to accommodate the appetite for rich media by improving download speeds and ad serving efficacy. Developments that will, in turn, produce more engaging mobile ads in 2017.
Having at last crowned mobile the king of marketing, the industry must look to the future. Any reigning format needs to be agile, secure, and efficient, which means in 2017 we can expect to see a shift towards more advanced programmatic delivery, stringent anti-fraud measures, accurate attribution and diverse ad types if mobile is to keep its throne.
Alex Rahaman is VP of programmatic for StrikeAd at Sizmek