Top five challenges brands face in mobile marketing

Cadi Jones, commercial director EMEA at Beeswax, shares the five challenges she found to be facing most brands at our recent Programmatic for Brands Summit, where Beeswax was one of five sponsors

At this week’s Mobile Marketing Magazine Programmatic for Brands Summit, 50 brands from a huge range of verticals gathered together to discuss challenges and share best learnings in mobile advertising.  I was fortunate enough to be able to share some best practice programmatic optimisation techniques that we see our sophisticated customers deploying.  After some initial presentations, we moved into a series of roundtables, where we were able to hear directly from brands on the challenges that they are facing within mobile environments. 

The first thing that struck me overall was that each of the five roundtable sessions came up with a different primary challenge – however, these top five challenges came up consistently across all of the roundtables.  So, for those of you who weren’t able to attend, I thought I’d share the top five challenges…

Measurement / Attribution

Measurement and attribution is the biggest, and most important barrier for both brand and performance advertisers when focusing on in-app environments.  The biggest challenge comes down to the lack of consolidation in reporting. Since in-app ad-serving operates differently from web environments, it is difficult to track the conversions associated with these impressions in the same solution as your desktop reporting. 

Very few measurement partners are able to operate in both web and in-app ecosystems, making it incredibly tough for brands to track and attribute their in-app campaigns accurately. As a result, they rely on different partners to cover the different environments, and it’s very hard work to compare across in-app and web environments. It’s also more work for the media traders in ad agencies working within differing environments with unique requirements – different click URLs, different line items or even different campaigns.

Finally, app publishers’ limited adoption of viewability SDKs from IAS or Nielsen DAR is preventing branding-focused advertisers from increasing their investment.  Brand advertisers rely on knowing their ads are being viewed, and by the audiences that they are targeting: if viewability and verification tools aren’t plugged in, spend will lag.

Education / Level of understanding

There’s a wide range of misperceptions around in-app. We heard many attendees share that their agency and clients still perceive in-app as a less premium environment or offering limited access to desirable audiences.  We need to change this perception across the board, but especially in regards to rewarded video. Rewarded video allows gaming publishers to warrant that their audiences value the brands providing in-game credit.

There’s also a perceived complexity around being able to deliver against a target audience.  This is a direct result of how difficult legacy Demand-Side Platforms, DSPs, make it to target users in these in-app environments.  Luckily, newer DSPs don’t necessarily have these same challenges, enabling buyers to target both in-app and web environments with the same ease.  

Brand Safety and fraud

As adoption of ads.txt in the in-app environment becomes more widespread, advertisers can better determine the origins of the publishers they are accessing. It gives them the supply transparency they need to ensure they’re buying quality inventory. Adoption has been much quicker for app-ads.txt than the 6 months adoption took in web-based environments, however, some mobile publishers are still reluctant to schedule the (limited) development work this requires.

The mobile measurement platforms, such as AppsFlyer and Adjust, have much more sophisticated fraud tools, and some modern DSPs even provide the basics to help premium brands address this environment.


Cross-Device advertising was raised as an issue by many of the larger brands present, some of whom were already optimising their own first party audiences across all channels with their own log-in data.  However, having logged-in data is the exception rather than the norm, and many brands are struggling to find partners to help with this challenge.  There was much discussion around GDPR (and the CCPA legislation in California) around the impact that this will have, requiring new methods to be found to reconcile audiences.  As programmatic expands outside of mobile and desktop into audio, out of home and even connected TV, the element of addressability becomes even more challenging. 

Should mobile be a channel for branding or performance?

Finally, the most contentious area of discussion was around campaign objectives – with some contributors focusing their efforts squarely on performance, and others instead reflecting on mobile as a branding tool.  While not a hard and fast rule, a key factor appeared to be the value of the product concerned.  For brands with long consideration cycles, or high-cost products – such as holidays – their feedback was that users would do research on mobile, but actually complete the transaction still on a desktop PC. However, for lower-cost products (or even subscriptions, which may even have greater lifetime value) brands did see users converting real time on mobile devices, and were able to track, measure and optimise to this thanks to their mobile measurement partners.

In summary, this event was really valued by attendees as everyone was there to learn, happy to share their experience and expertise, and discuss the progress that is being made in mobile advertising.