Commentary

Brace Yourself, New Mobile Is Coming

The "M" in RTM is open to interpretation, and today it means Mobile. WideOrbit this week announced a mobile app that allows offline media - specifically TV and radio - to be bought and sold by humans on-the-go. This is where the distinction between real-time and RTB becomes important. "Real-time" is anything that happens immediately, whether it be buying media on-the-go (like the WO app), data collection, or the ability to geolocate users on mobile devices. "RTB" is the automated buying and selling of available ad inventory.

When the real-time technology loses automation (i.e., the WO app), the application of the tech is up to the humans. That means that either: A) the technology won't be used as much as it could, or B) humans will never be able to escape the media world.

I'm going to go with option B, not in some "the world is doomed!" sense, but because most humans rarely want to escape the media world; just look at our mobile consumption. Also, think of how excited people are for technology that literally goes everywhere with them. The smartphone is today's example, but technology is going to become more involved in day-to-day life in the future. Think smartwatches and Google Glass, which I'm calling "new mobile."

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Google Glass is a neat idea, but with a rumored price tag of $Doesn't-Sound-Worth-It ($1500) it could easily become the tech du jour. However, if the gadget proves practical enough, the price will eventually fall and people will buy it. Either way, "new mobile" tech is outstripping mobile RTB tech, which means RTB might be relegated to display only if it doesn't catch up.

"New mobile" could also make the humans the automated data collectors. If there's one thing that can be counted on, it's humans using technology. That could help solve the missing cookie issue advertisers have with mobile. Google Glass will see everything the user sees - that's as "real-time" and as close to the consumer as it gets outside of inserting a chip that reads minds. (If you listen, you can hear the shouts of "Privacy Foul!" already).

The other part of "real-time" - the automated exchanges - is what needs to catch up. It's available, but the inventory is still lacking. The new mobile tech side of real-time is coming, and the programmatic side would be wise to brace themselves.

And, yes, the title is a reference to the new season of Game of Thrones, which I will be watching in real-time (also known as "Live").

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