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Five things we’re hoping to see at MWC – Axonix

Alex Spencer - Sponsored by: Axonix

Zee Ahmad, director of programmatic at Axonix, outlines some of the conversations he expects in Barcelona this year, and through the rest of 2017

As we arrive in Barcelona for another Mobile World Congress, it’s amazing to think that the iPhone has only recently turned 10 years old. Steve Jobs’ prediction that the device would lead us into a ‘post-PC’ era has inarguably been borne out, but it’s the pace at which this has happened that is truly staggering.

According to ComScore, the tipping point of mobile ownership overtaking PC ownership was reached in 2015. In the same way that the internet gave rise to new media such as blogging, social media and eCommerce, mobile has further refined these channels – and created new ones. Some of the largest businesses of our time, such as Uber, Airbnb and Supercell, are not only mobile-first, but app-first.

From a marketing and technology perspective, what is most exciting is how developments in mobile-specific data can help create actionable insights. When combined with the efficiency of programmatic and creative excellence, these insights will provide greater relevance for consumers and higher engagement for advertisers.

In Barcelona this year, our hope is to see the following discussions and developments around data.

New players entering the market
While 2016 brought with it a mixed view on where ad tech stands from an M&A perspective, what is clear is that telcos are executing their own strategies. Be it media plays – such as AT&T and Time Warner, or Verizon buying AOL and subsequently Yahoo – or our own data-centric efforts as part of Telefonica, it is clear that telcos have fully grasped the value of their data and how it can be applied in an advertising context.

We are also seeing the creation of enterprise-grade data sets from established mobile-first businesses outside of their perceived core business functions. For example, Uber and MZ are leveraging their robust mobile platforms to assist with broader issues such as the planning of bus fleets and city transportation logistics.

Closer collaboration
It’s an oft-held view that greater collaboration is needed across the various actors in the ecosystem; both the evolution of data decoupled from media and the ability to fuse it with clients’ own data will see a growth in data-led collaboration.

A driving force behind the launch of our probabilistic Insights Data offering was the need to offer a compelling carrier-grade mobile product that can be traded independently of media, for the benefit of both publishers and advertisers alike. Our UK partner Weve also works closely with many brands to develop customised audiences fusing telco and advertiser first-party data to provide unique audience insights.

Elsewhere, we see brands such as Experian embracing the growing need to supply data fluidly via programmatic channels. Another good example would be Haymarket Media, which is collaborating with Global Radio to provide audiences on the latter’s radio stations based around the publisher’s portfolio of motoring titles.

At the core of collaboration is the need to be mindful of user privacy and this has never been more important than with the impending GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) legislation around the corner. A massive opportunity exists for partners that are able to leverage data in a way that enables fluidity of trading within the bounds of privacy constraints.

Growing maturity of location and machine learning
As app usage continues to grow, brands need to evolve targeting strategies outside of the traditional cookie approach. Much of the success of the mobile ‘unicorns’ mentioned above has been based around audience discovery and retention programmes using sophisticated cookie-less solutions.

This is no longer a market focused on cost per download, but rather lifetime value, frequency of visit and average revenue per user. While this is undoubtedly a challenge, it is also an opportunity to embrace the rich data signals delivered within mobile – and location is a great example of this.

Location can combine real-world activities (for example, information about the recency and frequency of visits to a store) with AI and machine learning capabilities. In time, this will give rise to data sets that combine real-world data with digital behaviours and trends.

This maturity of mathematics, data science and improved raw data will play an important part in the next phase of audience targeting. Those succeeding in being transparent when outlining the true value of their tech and, just as importantly, the truth sets they are running models against, will no doubt thrive.

Developing a consolidated user view
From an advertising perspective, one of the most exciting things about mobile is not so much the channel becoming the dominant way we consume media, but more about how the new data it creates converges with existing data to provide added value and incremental insights that help to build a consolidated view of the user.

If you look around data marketplaces currently, there is a lack of mobile-first data, both probabilistic and deterministic, that advertisers are able to ingest into their own DMPs and device graphs. Having this data as part of a consolidated view will not only help solve the issues around reach and frequency, but also help develop smarter creative strategies that play to the strength of each medium and work towards a truer view of attribution across channels.

New opportunities within programmatic
Mobile is arguably the most mature channel within programmatic today. According to a recent IAB study, over 70 per cent of mobile is traded programmatically, although the bulk of this trading (58 per cent) is via programmatic direct channels. These deals work well and enable brands and agencies to buy against their trusted publisher partners and their mobile web extensions.

The growth of mobile has created new media channels – including messaging apps and audio apps, as well as entertainment apps such as games – although these seem to under-index in terms of the revenue they currently command from brands.

A crucial benefit of the new data sets outlined above is that they will provide greater insights into the app economy. In time, this will help bring about real-time and open market audience-based trading opportunities, as well as leading to the creation of audience-based PMPs that sit alongside traditional publisher-based marketplaces.

The net effect of better data will be the ability to cut through the swathes of supply and focus in on new high-performing in-app inventory, both in real time and via programmatic direct.

This sponsored article first appeared in the February 2017 print edition of Mobile Marketing. You can read the whole issue here