Advertising in general is a data-driven ecosystem. Without the appropriate metrics to utilize, any campaign is all but useless. Such is the problem facing many mobile advertisers- various metrics are in place, yet they come from a variety of sources with no clear-cut form of organization and centralization. Fragmentation of information is a major hurdle the mobile advertising industry in general must overcome, but how?
The problem stems from the fact that as a mobile advertiser, you’re utilizing an endless variety of ad networks, agencies, SaaS platforms and more to promote your mobile site, mobile app or any other product or service. While each ad network, platform, etc. provides you with various metrics and data surrounding your campaigns, it’s hard to bring everything together to end up with a centralized mound of data to then analyze and utilize to make your campaigns better.
The basic metrics are in place- your site analytics can tell you where traffic is coming from, and the various ad networks can tell you what your spend was for the traffic sent, but you end up in a situation where it’s difficult to track the spend on ads and conversions on your site for each and every campaign you run without a lot of manual intervention.
Patrick Lord, founder of mobile-ad optimization tool Adremixer, wrote a great post on mobile data fragmentation over at GoMo News offering suggestions on how to solve the problem. In it, he details two factors prohibiting mobile metric centralization:
- You have to aggregate ad performance data from multiple ad networks, agencies, platforms, etc. and do so in a manner that’s meaningful to the advertiser. While APIs to extract this data from ad networks are slowly making themselves known, they’re far and few between and provide less-than-stellar interfaces to manually extract data.
- To get full conversion tracking via ad networks you have to integrate tracking codes, manually, into your site or app to see full CPA performance data for each ad running on the various networks. While it works, it still involves a lot of unnecessary legwork depending on how many ad networks you’re working with.
To solve the problem there has to be a method in place to collect and capture common-denomination, comparable data from all available sources into one place and then be able to match it up and make sense of it all. Furthermore, there’s currency and timezone issues to take into account as well. As Lord states in his post; “How are you supposed to compare ad spend in the US delivered by an ad network headquartered in India with conversion data from your analytics provider in the UK?
Lord suggests the solution to the problem lies in the hands of the ad networks and analytics providers. “For me, there is one clear and relatively simple solution to this problem: Ad networks and analytics providers need to give clients their data in a time zone independent format and liberate it with an API,” he explains. “That way, they can easily combine and compare ad performance end to end for each and every one of their campaigns. The advertisers and ad agencies will be the final deciders on this, and they will choose those companies in the ecosystem that are able to give them the data they need whenever and however they want it.”
While I agree this would definitely help curb the continued fragmentation that occurs with mobile data, it’s an unfortunate reality that there are simply too many pieces to the puzzle to make them all come together and play nice with one another.