Mobile is officially growing up. Where mobile execs were once relegated to the cliché of “trying to get a seat” at the brand marketing table, mobile is on track to eclipse broadcast radio and print in terms of ad budgets this year. Mobile platforms, technology providers and even internal brand evangelists have steadily staked their claim to that proverbial seat, but three trends in just the past six months have converged to give mobile a permanent place – if not an engraved placard – at the “grownups” marketing table. And with the fall season upon us, mobile content providers should also pay attention.
Mobile Powered Facebook & Twitter Through Q2
Mobile ads ensured that Facebook and Twitter beat Wall Street’s revenue expectations. And while many companies delight shareholders with better-than-average performance, the fact that two of the world’s most transformational social platforms have been able to profit so greatly from mobile is an industry bellwether.
This time last year, mobile represented less than half of Facebook’s overall ad revenue. Twelve months later, the company is generating 62% of its revenue – or more than $1.8 billion – from mobile ads. For Twitter, the percentage of mobile ad revenue is an even higher, 81%.
But it’s not just that both companies are making money with mobile ads, it’s the fact that they’ve quickly been able to capitalize on mobile user behaviors with innovation and products that are delivering strong return on investment with leading brand marketers at scale. And it’s not just the social networks who have hit inflections points with the majority of revenue coming from mobile advertising. Opera hit that mark in Q2 as well. Nimble mobile-first companies are pacing strong, meaning the pool of options for marketers in search of viable, scalable mobile audiences and ad units will only grow larger.
Programmatic Technology Consolidation
The second trend is consolidation in mobile technology, specifically in ad targeting and programmatic. Twitter gobbled up TapCommerce, a mobile ad retargeting firm in June. Yahoo recently added Flurry to its flock, and though Flurry's focus is on mobile app analytics, the startup launched an RTB marketplace last year. And back in May, Pubmatic acquired Mocean, adding more robust mobile ad serving capabilities to its own programmatic marketplace.
While still a small minority of media buying today, this consolidation and M&A activity show that buyers and media sellers alike are prepping to pay for and deliver mobile impressions through programmatic platforms at a far higher volume than in previous years. Companies who can combine high quality audience data with premium inventory like video at scale are positioned for success in the fast-growing programmatic world.
Standardized Audience Metrics Across Apps
Last, but not least, is that it's getting far easier for brand marketers to verify and target mobile audiences across devices.
We know that the majority of consumer time spent with mobile is taking place in apps, and if you add mobile video consumption stats to the mix, that time-spent number skyrockets. But while mobile audience measurement tools abound, it's been challenging for advertisers to track the impact of their video campaigns in and across apps, specifically.
Nielsen recently rolled out widespread support for mobile app audience metrics in its OCR product, a shift that I think will be echoed by other third-party ad and audience metrics platforms. Developments like these should help entice advertisers that have been on the fence because of many of the difficulties that stem from tracking, aggregating and de-duplicating a mobile audience across screens.
From Mobile to TV and Back
So what does this all mean for brand advertisers, specifically?
It means that tapping into the full power of mobile – including social apps, short-form video, and even second-screen synched campaigns – should become the norm for every brand this fall. The production values of content in mobile apps continues to become more TV-like, and with the launch of iOS 8, the introduction of two new rumored iPhones over the next few months and the explosion of Android devices worldwide, there will be incredible opportunities for brands to reach consumers on mobile with video in the same way that they market on TV. The difference is that consumers are leaning forward, not back, and the platform allows brands to drive engagement and ultimately ROI.
Welcome to mobile's segue into adulthood. I can only imagine what the next few years will look like.