Seven Simple Steps to Sell More Mobile Advertising

The Mobile Web Is Growing 14 Times Faster Than Desktop

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Mobile web surfing already accounted for 28.4 percent of Internet traffic last June, between smartphones and tablets, and that number has surely risen. The mobile web is growing 14 times faster than desktop traffic, as consumers interact with apps, social network and email from a slew of smart devices.

In line with that growth, eMarketer estimates that mobile ad spending around the world more than doubled in 2012 — from $4 billion in 2011 to $8.41 billion — and expects it to approach $37 billion by 2016.

Advertisers always knew there would come a time when budgets would need to shift to mobile to keep pace with changing consumption habits. That time is now. Meanwhile, publishers need to monetize this growing part of their market. While online display advertising is expected to grow at a stable 7% per year, growth in mobile should be roughly 20% per year at least through 2017, according to Credit Suisse. If you care about revenue, you've got to maximize mobile.

As buyers and sellers accelerate mobile monetization, will they repeat the mistakes of display? Or have we taken these seven lessons to heart?

  1. Be Direct. Buyers and sellers need to put premium first and skip the paper IO. Using direct-deal automation, buyers and sellers can work together to discover, negotiate and transact direct deals bringing cost and campaign efficiency in mobile. The key is to develop a cohesive strategy that addresses overall monetization, in both direct deals and unsold.
  2. Enable Your Sellers. Automation should enable your sellers, not disable them. Even when using automated-trading technology, publishers should reach endemic and non-endemic advertisers on their own terms. Manage channels exactly as you would otherwise, aligning advertisers with appropriate content and opportunities.
  3. Be Transparent. Digital trading is still tarred by its darkest corners. Buyers are correctly hesitant to spend when they don't know where their ads will appear, so transparency has to be the rule for mobile — right off the bat. Publishers must be crystal clear on about what they are selling in order to assure buyers they are delivering value.
  4. Use the Smart Pipe. The cookie data on which desktop RTB relies is still largely absent from mobile operating systems. With user identification so difficult, first-party publisher data takes on even greater importance. Publishers need to work to make the targeting data they do have available.
  5. Manage Your Unsold. RTB only leads to a race to the bottom if the publisher allows it. Today's supply platforms enable publishers to aggressively manage their sales channels across the entire chain of custody from buy side platforms to trading desks to agencies to advertisers. Use these capabilities to ensure fair and competitive rates that still help advertisers achieve their goals.
  6. Support OpenRTB. The IAB's open technical standard enables sellers and buyers to connect faster and more efficiently Working with partners that actively support OpenRTB is an easy way to eliminate friction from a rapidly evolving ecosystem.
  7. Beware of the Arb. Arbitrage is a dirty word in online advertising. Sellers and buyers should make affirmative decisions to favor work with platforms with transparent, fixed fees, as opposed to entities conducting arbitrage and profiting by acting as a middleman.

Remembering these seven simple steps will help accelerate mobile marketplace development and provide better control and transparency to both buyers and sellers.

Jay Sears is SVP of Demand at the Rubicon Project. He co-chairs the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Advertising Technology Advisory Board and Council and publishes opinions on and @jaysears.
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