Losing Your Mobile Audience

Ever since the first direct-to-consumer mail order catalogue in 1872, marketers have been on a quest, and successfully, to better understand their customers and reach them in a more direct and personal way, irrespective of the media channel. Today, marketers are waking up and wondering where their customers have gone. According to eMarketer, consumers are now spending 23% of their media time on smartphones and tablets. For many marketers who lack thorough mobile and cross-device strategies, this is the equivalent of going dark. 

As few as two years ago, the mobile ecosystem was still finding its way - identifying mobile audiences was a major challenge. Back then, buyers were afforded little ability to accurately target mobile audiences across scattered mobile web and in-app inventory. Fast forward to today and things have massively evolved thanks to mobile-first technologies that reliably identify mobile audiences, even as users move between app and web environments. 



With this opportunity comes a new challenge - there is now more data available to advertisers than ever before but knowing what to do with it isn’t so obvious. The real problem here is that many advertisers are ignoring the value of their customer and campaign data, thereby losing a critical competitive advantage to savvy competitors. Advertisers need to get out of the traditional media centrifuge and seize the mobile opportunity. 

The cross-device jump

In a mobile-first world, advertisers can uniquely leverage audience data across multiple screens, making their advertising more targeted, relevant and effective in unprecedented ways. By helping understand the interplay between device, location, environment and behavior, mobile unveils unique audience insights that simply cannot be derived from desktop. Mobile advertising reaches audiences on the move – serving people with hyper relevant, geo-targeted campaigns. Sitting in an airport waiting for your luggage en route to a conference? That’s a great opportunity for Avis to deliver ads promoting their new executive fleet directly to your smartphone. 

This is all made possible by statistical identification technologies; the made-for-mobile targeting that relies on statistical equations to determine audiences in a non-personally identifiable manner. While Facebook and Google rely on user logins to identify audiences across mobile and desktop devices, statistical ID is the process of connecting dozens of anonymized data points, tied to key anchor data points at the mobile device level. Identification is not reliant on the cookie, and this requires that advertisers change the way they think about mobile targeting. 

By pairing statistical identification with transparent programmatic buying technologies, advertisers and their agencies are now geared up to reach their multi-screen consumers with the right message, no matter the device. Moving forward, benefiting from the deluge of big data requires both the technology and the tools to understand it. 

The data goldmine

Owning first party data is just the beginning, marketers face the challenge of deciding what to do with the vast amounts of data collected from their customers via mobile devices. Do we store it? Use it? Sell it? The answer could be all three. 

Data is not inherently valuable, it needs to yield actionable insights and ultimately drive revenue for marketers. Transforming data into gold is no easy task - this can only be achieved by working with truly self-service, transparent technology platforms where buyers own and control their data, while generating new insights from every impression, click and conversion. Whether first-party (advertiser or publisher-driven), second-party (proprietary insights leveraged from campaigns), or third-party acquired data, it’s crucial for buyers to process, combine and analyze this information in a safe and controlled way, conscious of how these customer insights feed into a larger data-strategy. 

The ability to activate and model data will soon become a requirement from both buyers and sellers. By this, I mean the ability for businesses rich in desktop customer and campaign data assets to map their audiences across to mobile, thereby unifying their audiences. Innovation will come from agencies, agency trading desks, large retailers and other advertisers rich in CRM data - not to mention publishers with highly engaged, cross-device audiences. Data owners must harness the power of open platforms to help them build unique trading capabilities in mobile and by extension, cross-device advertising. 

Maintaining control and data ownership will be critical. Time and time again we see instances of leaked customer information, or data leaking in a way that benefits competitors. Data owners need to wake up and ask their advertising partners a tough question: How is my data handled, and how can you help me build value from my media buy? 

What now?

Established players and new entrants are desperate to better understand changing audience dynamics and to do so, it’s crucial that advertisers take control of their valuable data. It’s no longer enough for data to be shuffled around, there needs to be an aligned data strategy between advertisers and their respective media buyers. The future of data-driven ad buying lies in open technology and self-service platforms where advertisers can benefit from the transparency, customization, and control offered by a true data driven model. Done right, the future of multi-screen advertising looks very smart indeed.

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