With the World Series underway and the movie “Moneyball” recently released in theaters, baseball fans across the country are asking this question: What type of ballplayer adds the most value to a team? Is it the flashy home-run hitter who blasts monstrous shots into the stands, but doesn’t consistently get on base? Or is it the simple and steady singles hitter who brings in runs and delivers wins for his team?
Mobile ad networks and baseball players aren’t usually mentioned in the same sentence, but there may be something mobile ad networks can learn from taking a closer look at the game.
The Home Run Hitter
Ryan Howard, perennially one of the best power hitters in baseball, hit 33 home runs for the Philadelphia Phillies this year. When you apply the sabermetrics formula for Runs Created -- one of the sophisticated evidence-based statistical analysis methods for baseball used by the 2002 Oakland Athletics team that is featured in “Moneyball” -- thesum of all of Howard’s offensive efforts created 95 runs for the Phillies. So what does this have to do with mobile ad networks?
It’s still fairly early days for rich media and video advertising in mobile, and most of the campaign success stories you read about involve flashy, highly customized one-off campaigns. A notable example is HBO’s “True Blood” mobile campaign, which left bloody fingerprints where you touched your phone screen. This custom campaign was a home run for HBO, but the execution was backed by an incredibly time-intensive manual process that required multiple firms, and required publishers to technically alter their applications and sites. Ultimately, no sustainable practices or systems were created. Fans love a home run, but when the cost of the player is high and no one else is on base, is it really going to add up to a win for the team?
The Complete Player
Dustin Pedroia only hit 21 home runs for the Boston Red Sox this year, but using sabermetrics, the sum of his offensive efforts created 119 runs. That’s 24 more than Ryan Howard.
Online ad networks already have video and rich media figured out. Because the process is completely automated, hundreds of publishers have access to dozens of video ad campaigns at any given time, allowing ads to be served in real time, at the point of the ad request. You won’t read about most of these campaigns in the news, but they create steady revenue streams for publishers and are a reliable way for marketers to achieve their goals through online advertising. This same ease of automation needs to be in place for video and rich media before mobile ad networks can scale and push the category to the next level. High CPM mobile video campaigns that are manually executed for just one or two apps are not sustainable. Home runs can be great for both baseball teams and ad networks, but I’d rather build my team around a bunch of Dustin Pedroias than Ryan Howards.