Commentary

Removing Barriers To Mobile Advertising

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Fragmentation has long been one of the terms synonymous with mobile advertising. To help reduce the barriers to mobile ad buying, a trio of companies -- The Weather Channel, Crisp Wireless and Tringapps -- earlier this year formed the Open Rich Media Mobile Advertising initiative. The group's aim is to streamline the process of serving ads in mobile applications to bolster ad spending.

To that end, ORMMA today introduced an open standard and rich-media ad specifications for publishers that want to run campaigns within apps across all devices and platforms. Based on existing HTML5 standards, the ad specs are meant to eliminate the need for apps to integrate separate ad-serving tools from rich-media vendors like Crisp, Medialets and PointRoll.

"So an app developer would implement ORMMA as one SDK and all the others plug into that almost as a universal power outlet," said Cameron Clayton, senior vice president of mobile and digital applications for The Weather Channel. That in turn should help spur bigger mobile ad buys by allowing brands to run campaigns widely across apps regardless of which rich-media provider they're working with, he added.

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Besides the three founding companies, PointRoll and mobile ad network and rich-media company Jumptap are also on board with the effort. The ORMMA effort is also under review by the Mobile Marketing Association, the industry's main standard-setting body, which is expected to release a whitepaper and evaluation within the next three months.

Given the inherent confusion and complexity in mobile advertising, especially with the rollout of tablets and other connected devices, any program that can bring greater standardization should be welcome. The more the mobile industry can make ad-serving as seamless across different sites and networks as on the desktop Web, the easier it will be for marketers to extend campaigns to mobile devices.

"For our advertising clients, we want to be able to accept any ad any solution they want to run, and ORMMA fundamentally enables that," said Clayton, who noted The Weather Channel has seen mobile ad revenue triple in the last year despite hurdles to advertising in the space.

How successful ORMMA is depends on how many other publishers, developers and mobile ad companies agree to support the open standards it promulgates. But the group has provided the basis for a way to make mobile ad operations less of a headache for marketers who have viewed the medium as hopelessly balkanized.

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