Mobile Ad Ops: Tales From the Wild Frontier
Last month the IAB’s Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence launched a new working group focused on identifying, discussing, and (where possible) solving mobile ad operations issues. Tackling the challenges of online ad ops has been one of the IAB’s core priorities over the years—and an area of some of our most important accomplishments. We hope that we can leverage that long experience to help the mobile interactive industry tackle its unique challenges at an accelerated rate.
Working closely with both the Mobile Center and the IAB Ad Ops Council, the Mobile Ad Ops Working Group will help us keep pace with the fast-changing mobile world. I thought the first conversation was great. It uncovered a number of issues that I was aware of, but also some that I’d not really considered. Here is a brief review of some of the topics keeping the mobile ad ops community up at night.
- Mobile ad serving. I’ve been hearing a lot about the problems that exist around mobile ad serving, particularly mobile rich media and video ads. The IAB’s Mobile Rich-media Ad Interface Definitions (MRAID) is an effort to simplify life for creators of mobile rich media ads. We need to investigate further the state of mobile video serving, including the applicability of the IAB’s existing Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) and Video Player Ad Interface Definitions (VPAID) specs.
- Discrepancies. A longstanding thorn in the side of interactive advertising, discrepancies are a big problem in mobile impression counting and other measurement as well. The IAB/MMA/MRC guidelines for mobile web ad measurement should help by providing common principles for how to count impressions, but it’s clearly an area where more work is needed. Our group will also explore leveraging the IAB’s Impression Exchange Solution (IES) to help advance the mobile front of the war on discrepancies.
- HTML5. Many in the industry think HTML5 is going to be sort of a savior, a standard that will make content development much easier across the fragmented landscape of mobile devices. Online ad sellers need to set expectations about how much of a panacea HTML5 will or can be. We can help educate buyers about the when and how of HTML5, too. At the same time, some in the industry are beginning to think about how much HTML5 is going to change not just the mobile web, but the PC web as well.
- Testing and Validation Challenges. The testing and validation process is always going to be a difficult challenge in mobile—with thousands of devices all potentially behaving slightly differently from one another, it will never be simple. Establishing some best practices around testing and validation, and providing a forum for sharing insights, both came up as helpful steps.
- Geotargeting. It turns out that when you don’t have access to a handset’s GPS or other location data, geotargeting is problematic, with issues similar to the early days of the web: proxy server locations throw off automated technologies for geotargeting.
- Educating Agencies. Members of the working group see a strong need for a one-stop place the agency community can go for mobile education in laymen’s terms. They find themselves explaining even basic things, like the MMA ad sizes, and the lack of support for Flash on Apple devices. At the same time there’s a perception that agencies want jump straight to creating the most sophisticated “crazy shaking pouring-the-beer-type” ads.
- Communicating With Phone Developers/Manufacturers. The other common refrain from the ad ops group was the need for a better dialog with device makers. This is a big challenge, since some of them famously don’t listen to outsiders much.
Of course, some of these challenges are easier to address than others. But all are important, and I’m looking forward to working with our mobile ad ops group, the IAB Ad Ops Council, and the larger community of IAB Mobile Center and Mobile Committee members to develop a game plan and to start to tackle them.
About the Author
Joe Laszlo is Deputy Director of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, at the IAB.