For all the big talk about the nano-targeting mobile platforms make possible, when you drill into many of the campaigns themselves, there is still pretty rudimentary stuff going on. Getting reliable and consistent data across platforms will be a magnitude harder on mobile than it has been on the desktop. Multiple operating systems, diverse user ID approaches, and a potential third rail of identifying users with their devices all conspire to make this harder than it looks.
The data platform provider Lotame is giving it a start by offering into the market data gathered from up to 30 million Android users. The company is hoping to bring to mobile the same degree of targeting insight about user behaviors on devices that we get into the standard browser.
As Lotame Director of Platform Solutions Doug Pollack tells me, Android is a more accessible starting point because the structure of its browser is familiar. “In the Android OS you can drop a third-party cookie, so we are able to honor user privacy,” he says. The familiar opt-out tag is accessible to mobile users. Through direct relationships with existing publishers, Lotame puts its pixel in the footer of a mobile site. “We don’t just pull in the URL and metatag,” he says.
Lotame has built its data management platform on analyzing user interactions with content on the Web and now is bringing some of that to the devices. “We go through the sites and recreate the user experience and all of the different things people interact with.” Lotame is seeing data from the full range of Android-powered devices, including even some trickles from the three of us who use Google TV.
Theoretically, the system can find patterns in user behavior like propensities to upload content or photo blogs, those who use Twitter and Facebook or those who write a lot of comments on content.
For now, Lotame is able to break down Android user by device and into more than a dozen segments like 12.5 million users whose behaviors indicate computer and tech interest or 9.8 million with fashion and beauty interest, 9.1 million art enthusiasts or 5.4 million video game lovers. The data can be used by Lotame DMP clients to learn more about their own audience or to expand their available audience for responding to RFPs. Lotame also plugs into the major DSPs and trading desks to allow for cross-platform targeting.
Obviously, the big hole for Lotame is iOS. Pollack says the cookie-less OS is on the company “roadmap,” but that it wants to find a way to stay on the right side of the privacy issue. We will see, of course, what Apple offers in its rumored privacy-friendly replacement for UDID device tracking.
The comingling of mobile and desktop data sets is a necessary and inevitable result of the post-PC world. Just as mobile behaviors are, of course, relevant to mobile ad tracking, the device platform opens up new realms of data that can be at least as valuable for targeting on the desktop. The long-promised ‘people meter’ is already here -- in each of your pockets.