How brand advertisers should be diversifying their media buying strategy

With 90 per cent of time spent in app on mobile, why are some brands still hesitating to advertise there? Welby Chen, president and chief business officer at Fyber, dispels some of the myths surrounding in-app advertising that might be holding back some companies.

It’s predicted that by next year, time spent on mobile will surpass time spent watching TV in the US. This makes it evident that mobile is becoming an attractive and strategically important medium for all types of advertisers. And where do people spend time when using their mobile? In mobile apps. Yes, over 90 per cent of time spent on smartphones is spent in mobile apps which means that less than 10 per cent is spent in mobile web (e.g. browsing through the mobile internet browser such as safari or chrome).

Yet, despite these unquestionable trends and promising predictions about further mobile app growth, brand advertisers are still hesitant about placing their ad spend eggs into the mobile app basket, which continues to be dominated by performance campaigns. Why is that so? Let’s explore and perhaps debunk some common myths about the mobile app environment.

Myth 1: Measuring viewability in mobile apps is not possible
Historically, the in-app advertising realm was dominated by app developers advertising their own apps on a cost per install – CPI – basis (aka user acquisition campaigns). With installs being key performance indicator, measuring viewability was not a requirement for these advertisers. In other words, it’s not that measuring viewability is not possible, it’s just that it has never been a priority.

With more brand advertisers opening up to advertising in apps, viewability measurement is becoming more widely available. VPAID formats allowing for measurement are now available in apps, big players such as Moat, IAS and DoubleVerify are working more closely with app publishers and the industry is looking towards the open measurement SDK to further alleviate the measurement pains. Bottom line, viewability measurement is there.

Myth 2: Gaming apps are just for kids or for hard-core gamers
One other misconception is around the gaming vertical – a large vertical within mobile apps – and its audience. Many imagine gaming apps users to be either kids or hard-core gamers and therefore rule it out as ‘not having the right audience.’ There’s also a wrong association between gaming and gambling which tends to give the plethora of popular and casual gaming apps a bad rep. This is all clearly false. 70 per cent of Americans today play games on their phone and over half of game users are female. The audience is broad and versatile.

Moreover, the state of mind of users when they are playing games tends to be more positive and engaged and they are actually 25 per cent more likely to engage with an ad while in these types of apps. Match that with capabilities such as ‘cookie syncing’, which allows to follow users across web and app environments, and you can basically reach the audience you want, when they are most engaged.

Myth 3: Apps have more fraud than mobile web
It’s impossible to talk about the digital world without addressing the topic of fraud. We won’t sugar coat it. The app environment is exposed to fraud just like the mobile web or desktop environments. That said, just like in browser-based environments, there are third-party vendors who specialize in tackling fraud issues in apps.

However, one benefit the app space has over browser is the app store. While no one monitors web pages, in order for an app to be widely available on Google Play or the App Store, it has to go through a screening and verification process. In that sense, the app environment can actually be deemed ‘safer’ for brand advertisers than its web-based counterparts.

The bottom line
With most time spent in mobile apps, a more engaged user state of mind and availability of technologies such as measurement and targeting, it’s time brand advertisers opened up to this world of apps. In a few years, we are going to interact with the internet through different devices. Devices such as Connected TV, smart cars or smart homes all work with an app environment. Advertisers wanting to stay ahead of the game need to start adapting to this app centric environment.

Apps are not only the future, they are already the present and advertisers who are not intentional about incorporating in-app into their media buying strategy, sooner or later, will fall behind.

Welby Chen is president and chief business officer at Fyber.