Ad network's CMO Paul Childs talks to ME ahead of next week's Monetising Mobile conference
Anyone who's been to a mobile conference recently (that's virtually everyone) will recognise the buzzy mobile observation du jour – that the average smartphone user touches their device 200 times a day.
We're obsessed with our phones. Fixated in a way we never could be with a TV or radio.
And yet still mobile advertising lags miles behind traditional media and even online media in terms of spend. How far behind? Well, according to eMarketer, time spent on mobile devices accounted for 10.1 per cent of US consumer attention in 2011, while spend on mobile accounted for just 0.9 per cent.
It's patently a ludicrous state of affairs, which is why mobile advertising keeps on growing. Of course, the main barrier to more spend is the perceived limitation of the medium itself. Display banners are at best functional on the web. Smaller banners on mobile are – let's be generous – functional but harder to see.
Which is why rich media mobile advertising is so very exciting.
Mobile ad formats that use video, expandable, swipe, gaming, 3D and more significantly raise the engagement levels of mobile advertising. And brands get the comfort factor of working with familiar assets.
Until fairly recently rich media was a minority interest because of the relative lack of devices in the market. But now that multiple countries have smartphone penetration rates of over 50 per cent, and tablet ownership is going mainstream, this is changing.
This is why Adfonic, one of the world's fastest blind ad marketplaces, moved headlong into the rich media space, with an update of its platform in February.
The strategy means that agencies and brands to serve ads created by pretty much any rich media platform on the market – Celtra, Crisp, Medialets and so on.
It gives advertisers monthly access to a potential 10 billion ad requests a month.
ME spoke to Adfonic's CMO Paul Childs about the transition…
You made a lot of noise with your entry into this space earlier in the year. Why did you choose this timing?
Rich media went through a transition last year. It was perceived as a premium network thing, served by YOC and 4th Screen and so on. And the belief was that you needed a new build for every publisher that you put your campaign on. Now, that's changed. You can build in days, and reach multiple geographies with no additional cost. It's so much easier now, and with the addressable market expanding so fast, it was obvious we could make a contribution.
How would you characterise your service?
Our philosophy is to be agnostic. We're not tied to any one platform – so we work with Celtra and any of the tech providers. Ultimately, we want to serve as many brands and agencies as possible, which means working with any of their existing technical partners.
How would you sum up the benefits of rich media campaigns?
Rich media is engaging like TV but also supports the option to peel away and give more information. With a car maker, for example, we built a campaign using an expandable banner that lets the viewer see the ad but also try different kinds of paintwork and change the wheels. There's an option to book a test drive. This is the real advantage of these campaigns – the ability of mobile to bring together different assets into one campaign. To take another example, a film studio might have a highly successful TV campaign and a popular Facebook page, and it can re-use these existing assets but link them together using rich media.
How many of the ads you serve are rich media?
Five per cent at the moment. But I'm confident it will be ten per cent by the end of the year.
What's the awareness like in agency land?
It's early days. No one in Europe has truly ramped up. There's certainly an education job to be done. In the US it's different. It's taken for granted that you'll consider the rich media option.
Does this mean that you have to build a lot of campaigns for your customers?
We have a four strong team here that can do it. And nine times out of ten the customers do need our help. Sometimes we use existing assets, other times we just have to grab suitable content from where we can. In the long term, this will change and agencies will become more self-sufficient. I don't see it as our core business.
How speedily can you create a campaign?
It takes one to two weeks from concept to launch. That's pretty quick. If you think about it, there are just a few weeks left to the Olympics, so there's still time for a sponsor to build a campaign and get it live.
How good are the metrics around rich media ads?
There's a huge amount we can deliver. But it's not so much about hard data - CTRs and so on – it's more about the softer stuff around product awareness, purchase intent and product recall. Companies like On Device Research can help with this, by questioning consumers to track post-campaign awareness. And we can feed this back into our analytics to give a fuller picture.
Do you see rich media advertising taking over from more basic media?
No. Different clients have different objectives, and a static banner can work in many cases. There will always be a mix.
* Adfonic is a gold partner of ME's conference 'Monetising Mobile: The Rich Media Future of Mobile Advertising'. It takes place on July 12th from 4.30. More details here.