Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Musings on Future of (Mobile) Ad-Tech

What will mobile ads of the future look like ?  Will they look like minority report ads seen above ?

This is a HUUGE growth opportunity for mobile ad tech, that can figure out how to appeal to brand marketers. Someone just needs to figure out how to get brand advertisers to start spending more on digital and mobile. 

Here is a wild and crazy idea at how to crack this:
Brand marketers care about depth of engagement because they care about connecting with people emotionally. So to do that mobile ad units need to prove to advertisers that they are much more engaging than a fraction of a second glance at a tiny banner on a pocket sized screen. To prove this to brand marketers will requires new engagement metrics, that will allow us to price ad units in a new way.

Snapchat has shown interesting innovation in this direction. Snapchat's mobile advertising requires the user to maintain contact with an iPhone or Android screen with one of their fingers for the video ad to play, if contact is broken the "snapchat"/ video stops playing. This is in essence a metric of engagement between the user and the ad. Something that up until now we didnt really have (except for the explicit click). Currently Snapchat is selling ad packages against this novel ad unit with a $750,000 minimum trial fee

This could point to an interesting direction for how next generation mobile ad networks should approach tapping into brand marketing dollars. The trick is to price ads by not only impression account but by TRUE engagement metrics.

What if ?

 What if mobile ad SDK's could track , really track, how engaged users were. By using the "selfie camera" on smartphones,  face detection / gaze detection AD-SDK's could tell for how long and how strongly a user was engaged with each ad. They could also target ads to male/ female by dynamically determining the sex of the user. 

This would fix one of the key issues with CPM pricing of mobile ads today:
Pricing is not as performance oriented as it seems. Today we price an impression of an auto play video ad, that had the sound off and the user was facing away from their screen the same amount as a video ad play where the user's eyes were locked on the video for 30 seconds and audio was playing. Realistically they represent entirely different levels of engagement and thus should be priced entirely different. 

Today we don't have metrics / ad tech in place inside the ad SDK's to be able to differentiate wasted ad units vs truly engaging ad units. It can be done, by adding in camera, face detection/gaze detection library into an existing mobile ad sdk's . But should it be done ? Say we did, and the added transparency appealed to brand marketers who could now pay big premiums for highly targeted and highly engaging ad units to reach their customers . Would the trade off on user privacy be worth it ? Or would people categorically reject it ? 

With patents about gaze detection being awarded to apple ... maybe this is not as far fetched as it seems ? Maybe minority report style ads are just around the corner ?


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