2013: The Year In Review And A Look Ahead For Mobile

With the “Year of Mobile” long gone, many in the digital advertising and publishing industries agree that 2013 was another breakthrough year for the medium. As hardware makers continued to introduce new mobile devices blurring our old lines among smartphones, tablets and laptops, consumer adoption of these devices skyrocketed and publishers saw much of their desktop traffic migrate to the mobile Web and app environments. Mobile ad revenue more than doubled from 1H 2012 to 1H 2013 and looking at the year overall, we saw several important trends and initiatives that set the stage for future growth:

  • Social – 2013 was a big year for mobile social. With big players such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter building out their mobile offerings and monetization strategies, brand dollars were soon to follow.
  • Creative – Ad creative made major steps in 2013. From enhanced offerings coming to the market (such as the Mobile Rising Stars program) to new and updated creative guidelines for advertisers and designers, we are now seeing marketers making better use of the mobile canvass with enhanced creative.
  • Operations – This year major steps were also made in addressing some of the operational challenges of building scalable campaigns in our multi-screen, multi-device landscape. From the update of MRAID 2.0 to ad reporting and addressing discrepancies, we saw a lot of progress on the operational front.
  • Location targeting – While audience data on mobile remains fragmented, use of location data to enhance mobile campaigns was definitely a winning strategy in 2013. Many retailers used location targeting to drive in-store traffic while other brands used location as a signal to create more relevant messaging for consumers. Precise location data has been one of the highlights of mobile and will continue to be important in 2014.
  • Privacy – With the increasing availability of location and other audience data on mobile, 2013 also became an important year for promoting transparency and protecting consumer privacy and choice. This will remain an important topic as targeting and tracking technologies evolve, and our work with the DAA and other trade organizations on Application of Self-regulatory Principles to the Mobile Environment was an important step forward.

While 2013 was an important year for setting the stage with new -- and new iterations of -- mobile standards, 2014 will be the year we begin to see all of these pieces come together as brands, publishers, advertisers and consumers fully embrace a “mobile first” approach. Some important themes in mobile for 2014 will be:

  • Social – The Twitters, Facebooks, Instagrams and Pinterests of the world will continue to drive mobile traffic and usage with consumers coming to expect seamless, intuitive experiences across devices from all the brands they interact with.
  • Video – Partially driven by the rise in social, video will continue to gain importance with more “made for mobile” content being produced -- giving users the opportunity to consume, interact with and change video content from their device of choice.
  • Adaptive design– As more screen sizes, display types, devices and next-gen hardware (think glasses and watches) proliferate the market, the importance of adaptive content and creative will be critical for publishers to successfully monetize mobile.
  • Audience targeting – In 2014 the need for a unified view of audiences across screens will continue to grow. We will see solutions for cross-screen tracking begin to gain traction and early winners and losers will emerge.
  • Attribution – As more ad dollars move to mobile, brands will demand better attribution models to understand and optimize mobile effectiveness. This will be especially important for retailers and showing online to offline ROI.

As an industry, we still have a ways to go as time spent on mobile continues to drastically outpace mobile ad spend. New solutions which make mobile buys easier to execute, measure and integrate with other channels will contribute to publishers’ ability to monetize and invest in mobile-first approaches to their business and consumers. This will also give brands the opportunity to connect with their audiences in a seamless and meaningful way. Signs point to 2014 truly being the Year of Omni-screen.

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