Joe Laszlo: January 2014 Archives

By: IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence and Millennial Media

As the latest in our series of research projects on how owning mobile devices changes the way people live their daily lives—on both typical days and special occasions—IAB teamed up with Millennial Media to survey Americans’ plans to watch Super Bowl XLVIII, including what they expected to be doing with their smartphones during the big game.  We enriched the survey findings with 2103 Super Bowl mobile media and advertising insights drawn from Millennial’s network that have implications for this coming Sunday. 

According to an IAB survey conducted online by Harris Interactive in January among over 2,000 U.S. adults, 74 percent of American adults said they are planning to watch the Super Bowl this year.  That’s a slight increase from the 70 percent of American adults who said they planned to watch in 2012 (per a similar IAB study).  The past two years have also seen a dramatic change in smartphone adoption:  In 2012, 43 percent of Americans planning to watch the Super Bowl owned a smartphone.  In 2014, that number has grown to 61 percent.  For marketers running ads during the game, then, having mobile ties built into those expensive commercial slots is transitioning from a nice to have to a must have, as a strong majority of likely viewers will be able to take advantage of a smartphone call to action.

This strong usage trend was reflected on the Millennial Media platform during the 2013 game, as total mobile traffic on their platform on Super Bowl Sunday was 10 percent above average. In fact, Millennial also saw that mobile traffic in Sports apps was 54 percent higher than the platform average, and traffic in Social apps was 7 percent higher.


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The IAB survey this year found that 57 percent of smartphone owners with plans to watch the game expected they would use their phones during the game.  And a number of specific activities stood out.  As far as communication channels, 36 percent of the smartphone-owning game-intenders said they’d use their smartphone to text, email, and/or instant message with friends (the most-cited activity), while 21 percent said they’d be posting to social media and only 16 percent said they expected they’d call friends and family to talk about the games.  Multitasking is also important:  20 percent said they’d be checking non-Super Bowl-related news and information.  And ads are important too: 14 percent expected to look up information about ads or products advertised during the game.

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We looked at how the activity data break down between men and women.  Eighty-three percent of male smartphone owners plan to watch the Super Bowl, versus 75 percent of female smartphone owners, a significant difference.  But by and large, the Super Bowl is an equalizer, and male and female smartphone owners who plan to watch the game expect to be using their devices very similarly on Sunday—our survey noted no statistically significant differences in planned smartphone use by male versus female device owners.

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To provide some deeper insights into what to expect as far as Super Bowl mobile traffic and advertising, Millennial revisited its 2013 platform data.  In terms of peak usage times, Millennial found that mobile traffic during commercial breaks was 10 percent higher than while the game was on.

Millennial also analyzed mobile application categories used during the Super Bowl commercials.  The top three corroborate reported usage plans from this year’s survey:

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From a mobile advertising perspective, Millennial identified a few key trends from 2013.  In terms of advertising verticals four stood out:

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In terms of advertising goals, most Super Bowl mobile advertisers Millennial tracked aimed to build brand awareness (71 percent) as opposed to launching a product (21 percent) or driving traffic to a mobile site or application (7 percent).  And most used rich media and some form of targeting to be sure their ads reached an interested audience, and successfully captured their attention.

The Super Bowl has always been about TV and football and snacks and friends—and of course the commercials.  Going forward, as smartphone adoption climbs and data usage continues to grow, it’ll increasingly be about mobile media as well.  We at Millennial Media and the IAB Mobile Center are looking forward to tracking those trends as they unfold.

IAB Survey Methodology

The IAB surveys were conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of IAB from January 17-21, 2014 among 2,047 adults ages 18 and older and from January 23-25, 2012 among 2,217 adults age 18 and older. These online surveys are not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Joe Laszlo, IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, at [email protected].

Millennial Media Methodology

Millennial Media data is based on actual campaign and platform data from February 2013.

About Millennial Media

Millennial Media is the leading independent mobile advertising platform. The Company’s unique data asset and full technology stack enable its demand and supply-side clients to garner meaningful results to drive their business. Based on its mobile-first approach to data, technology, and audience targeting, Millennial Media is leading the market by connecting consumers with relevant messages across screens. For advertisers looking to reach and engage with consumers in powerful ways, Millennial Media offers a broad array of solutions, delivered through brand, performance, and programmatic approaches. For developers and publishers, the Company offers a comprehensive set of managed and automated services to maximize revenue. 

Visit Millennial’s Research Page to sign up to receive Millennial Media-related news. For questions about the data in this report, or for recommendations for future reports, please contact us at [email protected]


Demand for programmatic buying in mobile has skyrocketed in 2013. At the IAB, we saw this trend unfolding and launched the Mobile Programmatic Buying Working Group, led by Joe Laszlo as staff manager and Victor Milligan of Nexage as chair, to address this rapid growth and the unique aspects of mobile programmatic. As the working group’s leaders, we co-wrote this post to outline some of the key takeaways from the group’s conversations, and share our thoughts for 2014.

While there are certainly similarities between PC and mobile programmatic, the differences warrant a working group dedicated to mobile. These differences are critical design points for publishers, exchanges, buyers, agencies, and advertisers, and include:

  • Mobile’s unique and massive applications and game ecosystem
  • Mobile’s data model that is built absent a universal, persistent third-party cookie
  • Mobile’s unique targetable data including location (notably lat/long), mobile OS (iOS and Android), carrier, connection type, and device types.
  • Mobile’s form factor and the importance of creative that is optimized for smartphones and tablets

The Mobile Programmatic Buying Working Group brings together 40 individuals at a diverse array of IAB member companies with a shared interest in how programmatic is evolving in mobile and how the IAB can help members understand and fully capitalize on programmatic.



The group’s first task was to organize the broad concept called programmatic and focus on those items important—and unique—to mobile. 

Given that programmatic has come onto the digital landscape quickly and that programmatic itself describes a family of technologies, we needed to itemize and define the different programmatic markets. Aligned with the IAB Programmatic Publishers Task Force, we identified four types of marketplaces:

  • Automated Guaranteed (reserved inventory at a fixed price, just transacted via an exchange, also known as programmatic reserved or guaranteed)
  • Unreserved Fixed Rate (unreserved inventory at a fixed price, also known as preferred deals or first right of refusal)
  • Invitation-Only Auction (unreserved inventory sold at auction, but to a select number of potential bidders, commonly referred to private marketplace or exchange); and
  • Open Auction (unreserved inventory sold at auction, to any bidder, usually using real-time bidding [RTB]).

Although the world of ad exchanges (in both PC and mobile) started with a largely open auction model, other models such as various forms of invitation-only auctions like exclusive or first-look private exchanges have generated a great deal of interest from publishers and buyers alike. A recent analytics report from Nexage describes trending in programmatic and the extraordinary uptake in private exchanges, as publishers and buyers become more comfortable and adept at using private exchanges to accelerate their businesses.  

The task force then began to discuss key mobile programmatic issues that will guide our work. Examples include:

  • The data model: The lack of cookies in mobile has an impact across most elements of programmatic buying. Because third-party cookies are not typically available, mobile ad inventory relies on proprietary means of targeting, tracking, and accountability, which aren’t always articulated clearly to buyers. Nexage views exchanges in all their various manifestations as serving as a critical integration point between first-party data (e.g., from the publisher/network/inventory owner), brands’ CRM data, and third-party data. 
  • Targetable data: There are a number of data types that apply in mobile that don’t have PC analogs, including location, operating system, carrier, network connection (wifi, 3G, 4G, etc.), and even handset maker/device model.  Some of the parameters, are sometimes considered complicating aspects of mobile fragmentation, but they can be better seen as methods for better targeting in an exchange setting, providing a valuable proxy for consumer demographics (e.g., iPhone users are different from Android users).

  • Transparency: Ensuring that programmatic is not a black box but a clear box where transparency aids impression level decisioning is a priority. For example, latitude/longitude (lat/long) is a critical parameter for hyperlocal campaigns, but not all lat/long data are created equal. Some are GPS derived, but others are derived from zip code or post code, called centroid lat/long, which are far less precise. Some exchanges already have business controls to enable buyers to know which is which and target and price accordingly.

Looking Forward

Across both PC and mobile, programmatic is shifting from a disruptive force to a valuable (and necessary) solution connecting ad buyers with desired ad opportunities. As we get into 2014, we have several ambitions for our working group:

  • Analyze the issues related to mobile programmatic’s unique factors to help members best understand and capitalize on the opportunity.
  • Provide input to the IAB’s other programmatic efforts, making sure that mobile’s unique aspects are represented.
  • Continue to serve as a forum for exchanging experiences and sharing knowledge.
  • Start collecting emerging good or best practices and case studies to illuminate what is working for buyers and sellers alike. 
  • Organize an industry town hall conversation to help disseminate our learning to marketers and agencies that need it.

It’s been an exciting year for mobile programmatic buying, and next year promises to be even more so. We’re looking forward to kicking the Mobile Programmatic Working Group into high gear, addressing challenges and ensuring continued growth for everyone.

About the Authors 

Joe Laszlo
Joe Laszlo is Senior Director of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence at the IAB. 

Victor Milligan
Victor Milligan is the CMO of Nexage where he leads all marketing and analytic functions. Twitter: @vtmilligan.
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