Reimagining Premium Inventory in Mobile

The following is an exclusive guest contributed post by David DiAngelo, VP of Marketplace Development at AerServ

What does it mean to run a marketing campaign on “premium publishers” in a mobile world? How are you defining what it means to be premium?

Industry veterans now fervently agree that activating a mobile strategy solely on marquee—desktop-based—publishers such as The Wall Street Journal or CNN no longer matter as much. While they may have sizeable followership, higher CPMs driven by impression scarcity make them less accessible to advertisers focused on more cost effective scale.

Instead, reaching the right audiences—agnostic to the sites and apps they engage—has become the new north star. This is due in large part to the fact that consumers’ media habits and buying preferences have dramatically changed and diversified across platforms. As a result, consumer loyalty to top brands has taken a nose dive—90% of leading household goods brands’ loss in market share is just one of the litany of signals. “Premium” then, is about data and audiences on clean, transparent, brand safe publishers.

So it behooves mobile marketers to learn from this trend and rely less on traditionally defined “premium” publishers to support their objectives. Sure, they will continue to carry the weight of their legacies in the digital media mix. But it’s time to upend creatively-starved, old school mobile strategies for more data-driven media programs that reach audiences at scale where they really are. Not where we contextually assumed they are.

As an example, which apps do you think have the highest concentration of millennial (18-34 year old) users?

comScore’s latest ranking of the Top 50 Digital Media Properties may lead you to think that CBS, ESPN, The Weather Channel and other premium digital networks have high millennial contingencies. But would you have guessed that apps such as Yik Yak, Venmo and Wattpad have the highest concentration of millennial users, with one reporting up to 99% concentration? In addition, we all know, mobile games continue to thrive and remain one of the most engaging, and safe environments in which to reach consumers across a wide swath of demographics.

The notion of premium has changed, so let’s completely reimagine what ‘premium’ should look like in mobile for modern marketers and blaze the required trails to help them scale and realize the vision.

Command Value Exchange As The Gold Standard for Premium Formats

Steve Jobs’ App Store launch in 2008 awakened consumers to entirely new ways of experiencing the world and interacting with each other on their mobile phone. Nearly 10 years later, consumers now spend more than five hours a day on their phones—texting, emailing, gaming, Snapchatting, shopping, watching videos and more.

In parallel, mobile display ads emerged in the form of 320×50 units at the top or bottom of your 4”-6” screens—as another opportunity for brands to engage consumers’ on their new most favorite device and for publishers to achieve new revenue opportunities . But while banner ads continue to serve these purposes, it’s clear that today’s consumer clamors for higher engagement standards.

Looking to the future, mobile video has begun to step up as the most compelling vehicle to lead advertisers to the premium oasis. For example, IAB’s New Ad Portfolio mentioned that short form videos in the 6-8 second range are already showing promising results in mobile.

Keep in mind that receptivity to video ads can swing both ways, as Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends report pointed out. On the one hand, 80% of survey participants disliked pre-roll ads, while 68% reported a positive attitude towards mobile app reward ads—ads where advertisers incent consumers with stuff like new tools, coins or coupon rebates to sit through the video ad.

What does this tell us?

That consumers will engage as long as there’s something in it for them. Therefore, any mobile inventory considered as premium in the future should have a clear, value-driven proposition to consumers.

Validate Premium With Engagement-Based Proof Points

Establishing legitimacy for premium inventory in mobile, especially for emerging formats such as mobile video, requires hard data-driven work. To generate accountability, marketers and agencies must answer questions such as:

  • How deeply did consumers engage with the mobile video?
  • Which creatives and messages resonated best with our different target audiences?
  • How does performance vary across different regions/DMAs in the US?
  • How did this campaign impact brand KPIs such as favorability, purchase intent and sales?

Today’s mobile metrics are still relatively rudimentary and direct response focused, such as Cost Per Install (CPI) or Cost Per Action (CPA). But premium in mobile should be evaluated by much deeper metrics that surface the consumers’ engagement with the brand and the brand’s influence on consumers further up the funnel. Completed views is just one measurement that should become firmly implanted in marketers’ mobile dashboards.

If last year finally became the year of mobile based on reported spend, then why are marketers and agencies still stuck in a desktop mindset? Let’s build upon this momentous milestone and keep the dollars flowing by pushing the boundaries on what really constitutes premium in mobile. The foundational infrastructure and programmatic pipes are already here and constantly evolving to help advertisers find audiences at scale, and deliver remarkable consumer experiences.

Done right, the most audacious and creative brands will find revenue opportunities bursting at the seams as a result of the industry’s unyielding pledge to preserving the reimagined vision of premium in mobile.