Verve Mobile, a mobile ad network that has flirted with programmatic ad technology before, took a big step toward further embracing programmatic with the hiring of ad tech vet John Haake as chief marketing officer. Haake was formerly VP of marketing at [x+1] and HookLogic and also served as marketing head of Turn.
Real-Time Daily caught up with Haake to discuss the intersecting roles of tech and marketing, Verve’s vision of programmatic and where it’s taking the mobile ad industry.
Real-Time Daily: Why bring a programmatic/RTB person into the CMO role of a location-based mobile ad company?
John Haake:Programmatic buying is arguably a more important evolution in Mobile than it was in online in 2009. There isn’t a more personal channel to engage consumers. The combination of proximity to retail -- where the vast majority of conversions still occur -- and location-powered audiences targeting illuminate a consumer journey that was once murky and incomplete for marketers. Add to this the efficiencies of programmatic to the precision of location mobile, and suddenly marketers have the opportunity to engage consumers with valuable, relevant information at the very time and place that consumers need it.
RTD: People keep saying that the CMO and CTO roles are blending. While that may be more metaphorical than literal, there does seem to be some of that blend going on here. Do you see it that way?
Haake: I’ve definitely seen this in my career. My tightest, most fruitful professional relationships have been with Product leads. In the best cases it is a yin and yang situation in which Marketing helps communicate a technology offering in human terms. This way advertisers buy based on their ability to do something better than they could before, or by doing something they were previously unable to do, rather than just buying technology.
RTD: Does this mean that Verve will have a renewed focus on programmatic?
Haake: It does, but just like online display, there will always be a need to do what has not been done before. Even after nearly six years of programmatic on the display side, most media is still bought somewhere other than on the exchanges. Mobile is no different, but big opportunities exist around automating the process and also giving advertisers and agencies more control of their mobile buying and campaign management. Examples of this are Verve’s self-service location mobile platform with its new media planning and creative production tools, and the interesting things we can do around our unique inventory with Private Marketplace buys.
RTD: What is the state of the programmatic location-based mobile industry right now? Where does it go from here?
Haake: It depends to whom you speak. The big online buying platforms on which advertisers and their agencies already buy online display and video are beginning to programmatically offer mobile. The problem is that this exchange inventory is largely mobile Web, and not location informed. This is a missed opportunity. We see location audience targeting and proximity to the offline retail world as foot-traffic-driving magic that mobile brings and that other channels cannot.
Verve’s location-based mobile campaigns have always been delivered via its programmatic platform. We are now responding to market demand by exposing the platform in new ways for buyers, including direct integration through our APIs and real time buying via our SaaS interface. Still, we don’t foresee a time in which everything is self-serve. Advertisers and agencies will continue to drive innovation that can only be made possible through tech AND hands-on human expertise.