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ISSUE 25 FEB 2017

| NEWS | VIEWS | ANALYSIS

PROGRAMMATIC NOW The state of automated mobile ad trading in 2017

MACHINE LEARNINGS Does artificial intelligence have a place in marketing?

FLOWER POWER Bloom & Wild on taking flower delivery mobile-first

OPEN FOR BUSINESS OpenX’s Jason Fairchild on why the mobile programmatic hype is justified PLUS: Atom Bank talks mobile | Amazon Echo on test | Turkcell interviewed


Connecting the digital and the physical world.

Location data makes advertising work

www.blis.com


FEBRUARY 2017 Hello and welcome to our latest print edition. Chances are high you’re reading this on a break from treading the halls of Fira Gran Via, which means Mobile World Congress, which means 2017 is officially in full swing. Looking at the wider world, that’s easy enough to see – a lot has changed already since 20 January – but what about in the world of mobile? Well, it looks like programmatic is still topping the agenda in 2017, as it solidifies its place in mobile advertising. We’ve got a comprehensive overview of the technology’s past, present and future from Tim Maytom, starting on p20 – and you’ll also find Axonix, TabMo and cover star OpenX providing their own takes on programmatic inside. Another technology that looks set to dominate this year is artificial intelligence, after the Amazon Echo became the must-have present of last Christmas. The technology is developing fast, with all sorts of ethical dilemmas on the horizon, but for now, we as an industry have to ask ourselves where AI fits in. That’s the question I’ve tried to answer on p6, examining all the ways AI is currently manifesting within marketing, from assistants to chatbots and even automated creatives. For a more personal account of what it’s like living with an AI, meanwhile, flick to p50 for David Murphy’s report on his time with Amazon Echo. So, whether you’re reading it over tapas, on the flight home, back in the office or while hiding from our new robotic overlords, we hope you enjoy the issue. Alex Spencer, Editor

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CONTENTS

05

BRAND STRATEGY Atom Bank’s Neil Costello imagines a new future for banking

06

RISE OF THE MACHINES Is artificial intelligence coming to take over marketing?

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MOBILE PROGRAMMATIC

Is the technology living up to its promise as mobile advertising’s silver bullet?

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TURKCELL: LIFE AFTER SMS How the Turkish operator is bouncing back from the Electronic Commerce Act

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THE FINAL FRONTIER

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THE SMELL OF SUCCESS

The inside story of the awardwinning Field Trip to Mars VR campaign

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MAKING IT STICK Tealium’s Jen Brown on why mobile is the superglue of modern marketing

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BE INDIVIDUAL DigitasLBi’s Ilicco Elia on using individual-level data to make your brand count

46

Bloom & Wild talks mobilefirst flower delivery

OUT OF THE BLACK BOX

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TabMo UK MD Chris Childs on how mobile programmatic is breaking from its past

WHERE ARE THE BRANDS?

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AGCS CEO Justin Campbell asks what’s holding mobile advertising back in Europe

UX-RATED

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40

Jason Fairchild discusses the state of mobile programmatic, now and tomorrow

Axonix director of programmatic Zee Ahmad tells us what he’s hoping to see at this year’s show

COVER INTERVIEW: OPENX

MWC PREDICTIONS

ContentSquare’s Duncan Keene digs into the importance of behaviour analysis

50

LIFE WITH ALEXA David Murphy shares his experiences with Echo

Editorial director: David Murphy – david.murphy@mobilemarketingmagazine.com +44 (0)7976 927062 Managing director: John Owen – john.owen@mobilemarketingmagazine.com +44 (0)7769 674824 Commercial director: James McGowan – james.mcgowan@mobilemarketingmagazine.com Business development manager: Richard Partridge – richard.partridge@mobilemarketingmagazine.com Online editor: Alex Spencer – alex.spencer@mobilemarketingmagazine.com News & social editor: Tim Maytom – tim.maytom@mobilemarketingmagazine.com Reporter: Tyrone Stewart - tyrone.stewart@mobilemarketingmagazine.com Marketing Executive: Trish Pencarska - trish@mobilemarketingmagazine.com Design: Konstruct Studios Ltd – info@wearekonstruct.co.uk Contributors: Neil Costello, Justin Campbell Print: Crystal Press Limited – sales@crystalcp.net Mobile Marketing is published by Dot Media Ltd., 57-61 Charterhouse Street, London, EC1M 6HA www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com

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CREATIVE MOBILE DSP


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BRAND STRATEGY by Neil Costello, head of marketing at Atom Bank.

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ore than 600 bank branches have closed across Britain over the past year according to figures obtained by the BBC. The question is, how are people doing their banking if the branches are disappearing? At Atom Bank we think that, increasingly, they’ll be doing it online and via an app on their phone. Smartphone penetration is approaching a peak, just nine years after the launch of the first full touchscreen smartphone. No other personal device has had the same commercial and societal impact, and no other device seems likely to. Relentless innovation continues at device and network levels, leading to exciting times. Statista recently reported that there are nearly 45m smartphone users in the UK alone – that’s over 70 per cent of the entire population. So, with these stats in mind, why would anyone want to get in their car and drive into town, then find somewhere to park, to go to a branch, to do the exact same transaction they could choose to do from the comfort of their own home, from the office or even the loo, on their mobile phone? That was the thinking behind the creation of Atom, which was founded in Durham in 2014, by six people who were disillusioned with the current way of banking. They decided to do things differently, and to try to change banking for good – permanently and for the better – with a low-cost business model, no legacy systems to try to drag into the 21st century, and no high-street bricks-and-mortar branch network to maintain. We all know that as the world changes and technology evolves, we are becoming lazier and our expectations of immediacy are on the increase. And this is true of our attitude to banking too. It shouldn’t take days to see our latest transaction, and we shouldn’t have to be our own accountants, reconciling our statements every month.

Why should banking be all suits, jargon, unnecessary charges and, quite honestly, hard work? Atom doesn’t believe it should be. Banking (horrid term) should be fast, easy, low-cost and, who knows, perhaps it could even be fun. That’s always been part of our thinking.

GAMING PLATFORM We have built our app on a gaming platform to make the user experience unique, personal and completely interactive. It’s is built using a 3D graphic development engine, as we want our experience to be a lot more engaging than traditional banking apps. The mobile experiences customers enjoy and find useful currently come from entertainment, gaming and travel brands, not from banking. Already, we have seen both young and old alike joining the Atom revolution. Indeed, our oldest customer is 92 years young. At the moment, Atom offers marketleading fixed saver options, secured business lending to SMEs and residential mortgages (via a panel of intermediaries). Eventually, our plan for the app is that it will be a whole bank, offering everything you would expect from a traditional bank, without the faff, on your mobile phone. Imagine a future where you can connect all your financial products, whatever brand they are, in one place, using intellectual technology on your phone that will help you, based on your behaviour, to save, spend and, dare I say, enjoy the relationship you have with your money. Sound too good to be true? Well it isn’t, because we are building it right now. Atom isn’t about ‘banking’, it’s about people. It’s about trying to change things so that people aren’t punished for managing their own money the way they want to. People don’t wake up in the morning wanting financial products or innovation in the banking world, they want real things like holidays, cars or a lie-in. We want to help make people’s lives easier, by redefining their relationship with their money, quickly and easily, on their mobile phone.

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ROBOT REVOLUTION As Amazon’s Alexa hits the mainstream, what does artificial intelligence mean for consumers, marketers, and the state of the world as we know it? Alex Spencer investigates.

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ou didn’t have to be following the coverage from this year’s CES too closely to notice one name repeatedly cropping up, across what felt like every announcement at the show: Alexa.

doesn’t release any specific sales figures for its products, Morgan Stanley estimates that 11m Echo units had been sold by the beginning of December – a figure that, notably, doesn’t include the Christmas rush.

Alexa is an artificial intelligence, a virtual personal assistant developed by Amazon. And right now, it looks likely to be remembered as AI’s first major foray into the mainstream.

While Alexa is currently leading the conversation around AI assistants, however, it is far from the only one in market today. Google has Assistant, which followed in Alexa’s footsteps in late 2016 by launching first with a smart speaker, Google’s Home device, before making the move to Pixel smartphones and the Allo messenger app.

Developed by Amazon’s Lab126 R&D division, and building on the eCommerce giant’s acquisition of Cambridge AI startup Evi in 2012, Alexa made its debut – there’s a temptation to say ‘her debut’, given the gendered name and voice, but let’s stay neutral for the moment – back in November 2014. It was first sold as part of the Amazon Echo, a smart speaker that enabled users to ask questions, select and listen to music and, of course, order shopping using just their voice. It wasn’t until last year, however, that Alexa made a real splash. Amazon reported that the Echo, along with the smaller Echo Dot, were its best-selling products of Christmas 2016, selling nine times as many as the previous year. While the retailer

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Meanwhile, Facebook is working on M, an assistant for Messenger which started initial trials in August 2015 but isn’t expected to be widely available for “years”, VP of Messenger David Marcus said at F8 the following year. Microsoft has Cortana, pitched as the heart of Windows 10 on both desktop and mobile, as well as the Xbox One games console, and Samsung is prepping its own assistant, Bixby, after acquiring Viv – a company established by former creators of Siri – last October. The matriarch at the top of this ever-growing family tree is, of course, Siri. Introduced by Apple back in 2011, Siri may be a little

basic compared to some of the AI technology developed since, but it laid the groundwork for everything that followed. Apple introduced to the mainstream the idea of a voice that can respond intelligently to your questions, and Siri entered the public consciousness more fully than any assistant since, making appearances in everything from TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory to Marvel blockbuster Ant-Man. It also served as the inspiration for films like Her and Ex Machina, which explore human relationships with femalepresenting AI – stories that are looking increasingly prescient, as Amazon reports Alexa has received over 250,000 marriage proposals. All of these assistants are varied in terms of what they can do and what platforms they’re available on, but they have a few things in common. With the exception of Facebook M, they all respond to the user’s voice, using natural language processing to interpret their requests, and tie together a number of services – firstand third-party – to achieve their given goal.


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What made Alexa’s dominance of CES this year so notable was that Amazon itself was not present at the show. Instead, the announcements all focused on the assistant’s integration into other devices, from its first smartphone, the Huawei Mate 9, to a range of ovens, fridges, washers and dryers from Whirlpool. The list also included Ford’s Sync 3 in-car system, Ubtech’s Lynx robot, and Aristotle, a child-friendly version of the Echo from toy brand Mattel.

RISE OF THE MACHINES When it comes to AI, these kinds of personal assistants are just the tip of the iceberg, as a quick look at the headlines of 2016 will attest. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the year by announcing his project for the next 12 months: “to build a simple AI to run my home and help me with my work”. In December he showed off the result, nicknamed ‘Jarvis’ after the AI butler in Marvel’s Iron Man films. Controlled using a mix of text and voice, via

Facebook Messenger or a custom-built iPhone app, Jarvis is able to switch lights on and off, open the house’s front gate and even make toast. It’s essentially a personalised version of Alexa, with the added bonus of being voiced by actor Morgan Freeman. Facebook, Microsoft, Slack and Kik all introduced chatbot offerings, enabling users to have text conversations with basic AI bots through their messaging platforms. This came just weeks after Microsoft’s ‘Tay’, a Twitter bot designed to learn from its interactions with users, had to be shut down 18 hours after launch when the bot, having apparently learned a little too much from its time on the internet, started to post racist, sexist and otherwise offensive tweets. Not to be deterred, by the end of the year Microsoft had revealed Tay’s successor: Zo, a chatbot that tried to address previous mistakes with a limited launch, on messenger app Kik, and a restriction on discussing sensitive topics such as politics. Meanwhile, Google’s DeepMind was busy beating the world number one at the ancient Chinese board game of Go, before moving on to its next competition – the much more modern game of Starcraft II – and partnering with the NHS. At the end of March, ad agency McCann Erickson even reported its first non-human hire, in the form of AI-CD, an AI creative director that mines its database of existing TV commercials to provide ‘logic-based’ direction for new ads. It’s no surprise, then, that Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that the next 10 years would see his company, and the rest of us, “shift to a world that is AI-first”. Pichai described “a world where computing becomes universally available – be it at home, at work, in the car or on the go — and interacting with all of these surfaces becomes much more natural and intuitive, and above all, more intelligent”. That process is already well under way. “AI is all around us already, even though we may not be aware of it,” says Thomas Husson, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research. “AI techniques are in action whenever we use a voice-driven assistant like Alexa or Cortana, allow an online utility to tag our pictures, or when we receive recommendations about what we might want to watch. Progress has accelerated in the past few years, with well-publicised success stories such as Google’s DeepMind technologies beating a professional Go player or IBM Watson for Oncology supporting clinicians.”

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So it looks like the rise of the machines is well and truly imminent. But, before we consider what happens next, it’s worth asking: how did we get to this point?

A BRIEF HISTORY “The term AI was coined at the Dartmouth conference in 1956,” says Husson. “Since then there have been a couple of key milestones, both in technological progress – IBM’s Deep Blue in 1997 and Watson in 2011 – and in people’s imagination, with movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Terminator and Steven Spielberg’s A.I.” To date, as these milestones suggest, progress in this field has been primarily led by one company. “IBM has been researching, developing and investing in AI technology for more than 50 years,” says IBM Watson’s European leader for retail Tony Maile. “When IBM Watson won the Jeopardy! gameshow on TV in 2011, it was a watershed moment. Since then we’ve only accelerated our innovation, advancing and scaling the Watson platform and applying it to many industries, including healthcare, finance, commerce, education, security and the Internet of Things.” IBM’s total dominance has been challenged in recent years, however, as a wide range of companies have begun to invest in AI, causing it to blossom in the myriad ways catalogued above. But does AI have a place in marketing? “Brands cannot afford to ignore AI, as it forms the foundation around which we will architect the new customer experience,” says Matt Gee, head of digital transformation at Isobar. “AI empowers brands to truly put consumers at the centre of the experience, with contextually relevant brand touchpoints, curated for the individual and moment.” A 2016 report from J. Walter Thompson found that 70 per cent of millennials in the US, and 62 per cent in the UK, said they would appreciate a brand or retailer using AI technology to show them more interesting products. And 72 per cent and 64 per cent, respectively, believed AI would be able to accurately predict what they want, as the technology develops. All signs, then, point to AI becoming a vital tool in the marketer’s arsenal – but given that AI is a very broad church, where exactly should they be putting their budget?


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DEUS EX MESSENGER Arguably the most mature incarnation of AI marketing at this point is the humble chatbot, which handles both questions and answers in a messenger-style text format. Chatbots have been around since at least the turn of the millennium, but have seen a major boost in the past 18 months, with just about every messaging platform you could name – including Facebook Messenger, Skype and Slack – introducing bots. At their most basic, chatbots are just a programmed set of text responses that trigger based on user inputs, offering everything from weather updates to text-based games. “Chatbots enable an instantaneous dialogue with brands, which if deployed correctly can do the heavy lifting of customer service, leaving human interaction to resolve issues, thereby creating significant business

efficiencies,” says Gee. “In a world where messaging has overtaken social networks, the new creative territories agencies need to focus on are personality, dialogue and conversational narrative.” Burger King, H&M, 1-800-Flowers, and KLM are just some of the names to jump on board with bots, with the use case for brands dividing into two main fields. The first is automating CRM channels like call centres and online help, lightening the load on human staff. “Traditionally, we saw customers getting support and access to websites from user interactions such as FAQ sections, live chat, email web forms and ‘call me back’ buttons, but the latest advances in AI point to a convergence of these channels,” says Jordi Torras, CEO of Inbenta. “Instead of all these different ways to access information, in

future customers will require more and more actual conversations. “Chatbots will quickly move from a ‘nice to have’ feature, as they have been in the last decade, to a central way of communicating with customers. I believe the industry will move from CRM to CCM (Customer Conversation Management).” The second is what has become known as ‘conversational commerce’ – that is, placing an order for everything from a taxi to a taco without ever having to leave the chat window. “Chatbots have proven useful at automating parts of the sales process when customers are looking for a self-service option,” says Giles House, CMO of CallidusCloud. But it’s not a perfect solution, House says: “Chatbots can only handle the questions and

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DO ANDROIDS DREAM? When it was announced that McCann’s latest hire would be starting at the ad agency’s Japanese office on 1 April 2016, a few eyebrows were raised. April Fool’s probably isn’t the best first day on the job for what claimed to be “the world’s first artificial intelligence creative director” – or AI-CD for short. But the technology stuck around, and by September it had not only been given its first client assignment – create a TV ad for Mondelez Japan’s Clorets mint brand – but was facing off against McCann creative director, and human being, Mitsuru Kuramoto in a competition to see who could create the better ad. Kuramoto won a popular vote, but with a narrower margin than you might imagine – 54 per cent against AI-CD’s 46 per cent. But how does it actually work? Will you find AI-CD’s robotic arm clutching a whisky the night before a big pitch? Or its silver dome in the director’s chair on a commercial shoot? “AI-CD gives the big creative direction at the very beginning of a project, based on the client’s creative brief,” explains Shun Matsuzaka, creative planner at McCann Japan and founder of McCann Millennials. “Once the direction is conceived, it writes out the optimal solution for the brief in Japanese calligraphy, with its robotic arm. Footage is then produced by a human team based on AI-CD’s direction.” The AI-CD is now working with its second client, according to Matsuzaka. He declined to name the brand, except to specify it is “a music company”. So, does AI-CD have a bright future at the agency? “It is under consideration, as it needs more financial investment as well as human resourses,” says Matsuzaka. “However, so long as we have clients who are interested in AI-CD, we will continue our efforts developing it.”

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FEBRUARY 2017 THOMAS HUSSON FORRESTER

BEYOND CHATBOTS AND ASSISTANTS, THE IMPACT OF AI ON MARKETING IS HUGE. AI WILL DRIVE AN INSIGHTS REVOLUTION THAT WILL HELP AUGMENT AND ENHANCE INTERACTIONS BETWEEN BRANDS AND CONSUMERS.

responses they have been deemed most likely to receive. In any selling situation where the buyer is looking for specialised contextual information, chatbots are unlikely to deliver feedback decisive to closing the deal. “People don’t buy from bots, unless the purchase is fairly basic, like a refill of some commodity goods. More complex sales need a human touch to establish trust, to provide answers to unique questions, and to apply human thought to the components of a solution. Chatbots may capture the raw data around those answers but they still can’t deliver on the human part of that equation; they can’t bring empathy, trust or a sense of teamwork into a deal.”

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE One way of introducing some of that human touch – in terms of presentation, if not actual content – is by communicating with users through voice, which is where AI assistants come in. The marketing use cases for assistants are currently very similar to those of chatbots, being split between basic CRM and commerce.

the visual – something that is absent with a voice-driven interface. “Brands need to figure out how and where they can appear within this context of AI assistants, in an authentic and useful way,” says Isobar’s Gee.

BEHIND THE CURTAIN It’s also worth remembering that not all AI in marketing is consumer-facing. “Beyond chatbots and assistants, the impact of AI on marketing is huge,” says Forrester’s Husson. “AI will drive an insights revolution that will help augment and enhance interactions between brands and consumers. Executives have told us that today, marketing and sales is the main function where organisations are evaluating investment and adoption in AI systems.” The algorithm rules supreme in marketing today. Speak to anyone about AI’s role in marketing and the conversation is likely to turn at some point towards a seemingly unlikely topic: House of Cards, the award-winning Netflix drama series.

Examples of the former include EDF Energy, which produced a ‘skill’ (what Amazon calls the simple app-style prompts that users can add to Alexa) enabling customers to check their energy use or provide a meter reading; Capital One Banking, which did much the same for banking; and National Rail, which provides live updates on train times.

“All the films and drama series provided by Netflix are tagged. The database is connected to behavioural data, which they had been accumulating over six years. As a result, Netflix became confident that they had a full grasp of the user preference,” says Shun Matsuzaka, creative planner at McCann Japan, explaining the inspiration for AI-CD.

As for the latter – well, aside from the likes of Domino’s Pizza and Uber creating their own skills, it’s worth remembering that the Echo is an Amazon product, and one of the key selling points is the ability to buy things from its store with voice commands. Conversational commerce is likely to have a bright future on AI assistants – or, at very least, on the one built by the world’s biggest retailer.

“Therefore, rather than purchasing expensive external content, they thought that they would be able to create better content themselves. House of Cards was produced based on an algorithm which concluded, using this database, that a political show starring Kevin Spacey and directed by David Fincher would be a major hit. Even though it was their first original series, Netflix invested $100m – they were that confident – and the show went onto win multiple Emmy awards.”

There are opportunities for softer brandbuilding exercises on these platforms too. Tequila brand Patrón has an Alexa skill for cocktail recipes, while the food brand Hellmann’s offers a similar service for meals, and Johnnie Walker has a skill that guides users through a personalised tasting tour of its whiskies. It’s a brave new world for brands, which throughout the history of advertising have been mostly focused on

Meanwhile, the rise of programmatic is a major step towards an AI-led advertising landscape – and not just on the buying side either. As well as McCann’s AI creative director, last year saw the first machinecreated movie trailer, when IBM’s Watson cut a trailer for, appropriately enough, robot slasher film Morgan.

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“Watson is helping marketers gain a deeper understanding of consumers’ needs and wants,” says IBM’s Maile. “80 per cent of the world’s information is comprised of dark data: text, tweets, blogs, articles, videos and sounds that traditional programmatic computing can’t understand. With cognitive computing, we can augment the marketing professional’s ability to understand, and act upon, this complex data in ways that simply were not possible before.”

SYSTEM SHOCK Of course, the obvious question when discussing AI is where it’s headed next. But before we start considering whether the future is more Terminator or Her, it’s worth noting that the technology still has some daunting obstacles to overcome. “AI is a hugely transformative technology,” says Forrester’s Husson. “It will have strong legal and ethical implications.” For a start, all of the problems we face today on mobile with security and privacy will not only

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be inherited but amplified, given the intimate relationships that AI is trying to build. This has already started to manifest – as in the 2015 murder case where the prime suspect owned an Echo, leading to US police issuing a warrant for Amazon to hand over the device’s audio logs. The company refused, but it was enough to unnerve other Echo users. There are plenty of videos online of people asking “Alexa, are you spying for the NSA?” – to which the device responds, naturally, by turning itself off. The way that children will interact with AI devices is also a major concern. Another viral video starring Alexa, which did the rounds at the end of last year, showed a young boy asking Echo to play him a song, and being rewarded with a string of pornographic terms. That was followed by a news story in January about a six-year-old accidentally making a $200 order – which, when it appeared on a TV news show with the phrase “Alexa ordered me a dollhouse”, managed to trigger viewers’ own devices into making the same purchase.

“Brands will become more risk averse to any AI that interacts with children,” says David Skerrett, managing partner at Nimbletank. “There are some obvious trip wires around children using AI via voice devices.” And this is just the start. As the technology evolves, we will have to face considerably bigger moral quandaries. If AI does become a vital part of the workforce, there is the problem of what happens to the people whose jobs are eliminated. Beyond that, if AI starts to achieve sentience, this raises the question of what legal rights the technology itself will have. It might sound far-fetched, but this is something the European Parliament has already started to consider, commissioning a report on whether AI will be considered ‘electronic persons’ and whether including a ‘kill switch’ should be mandatory practice.

JUDGEMENT DAY But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. For the moment at least, you probably don’t need to


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JORDI TORRAS INBENTA NEW YORK

I BELIEVE WE ARE SEEING A REVOLUTION WITH A SIMILAR IMPACT THAT THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION HAD TWO CENTURIES AGO.

worry about your Echo turning against you, and Facebook chatbots aren’t likely to be applying for personhood status any time soon. Even in the nearer term, though, there’s still plenty to be thinking about – so let’s leave the final word to our crystal-ball holders. “Some of the key trends are going to be improvements in machine learning and natural language analysis capabilities,” says IBM’s Maile. “Personally, I am most excited about the advances in video analysis and the understanding of objects, human emotions and activity. We are only beginning to imagine what this means for providing relevant and exciting content to consumers when and where they want it.” “A future where content is co-created with AI will definitely come,” says McCann’s Matsuzaka. “When it becomes the norm, creators will be leveraging data and algorithms in their creative development. In other words, data analysts and AI developers with a creative mind will be in high demand.

Technology is evolving at an extreme speed that exceeds our imagination.” “Voice is the future,” says Jorrit Van der Meulen, VP Amazon Devices and Alexa EU. “We believe that voice will fundamentally improve the way people will interact with technology. It can make the complex simple – it’s the most natural and convenient user interface, and the one we all use every day. It’s still early, but we think there’s a lot of potential in this space and we’re working hard to innovate quickly.” “Facebook will compete with IBM, Apple and Google in terms of cost-effective access to AI for brands,” says Nimbletank’s Skerrett. “The UK’s top university degrees will become focused on AI. The technology will be used to create more content and robots in retail environments will become more normal.” “The development of deep learning has ended an era of ‘AI winter’, which started decades ago, and created a huge wave of excitement,”

says Inbenta’s Torras. “As powerful as it might seem, I believe deep learning is just the first of a series of algorithms that will be created in the future that will boost neural networks to learn to solve increasingly complex and abstract problems. “Ultimately, I believe that AI will totally remove jobs that we today consider boring, freeing the humankind for a totally new era of creativity. I believe we are seeing a revolution with a similar impact that the Industrial Revolution had two centuries ago.” “Such is the potential impact of AI that IBM, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft have joined forces to publish research under an open license in areas including collaboration between people and AI systems, and the trustworthiness of the technology,” says Isobar’s Gee. “The coexistence of people and machines will become intrinsically linked. AI will change what it means to be human, our relationships with our world and with each other.”

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A BED OF ROSES? Aron Gelbard, CEO of Bloom & Wild, talks about how the online flower delivery company took inspiration from Tinder and Graze, the advantages of a small product range, and encouraging customers to opt for an app experience over mobile web.

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rdering flowers over the phone is hardly a new concept. After all, 1-800-Flowers launched all the way back in 1976 with that very concept. Here in the present day, though, picking out the right bouquet on your mobile still isn’t as simple as it could be. It was a poor mobile experience, attempting to buy flowers on a plane before the ‘turn off your phone’ light came on, that inspired Aron Gelbard to co-found the flower delivery company Bloom & Wild. Since the company was founded in 2013 – having picked up £3.5m funding on the way – it has worked to streamline this exact process. It’s far from the only business with that mission statement, but Bloom & Wild’s USP is that the flowers themselves are streamlined too. Taking inspiration from the likes of Graze snack boxes, its bouquets come boxed up small enough to fit through the average letterbox, and then blossom from there. Speaking at the recent Mobile Retail Summit, Gelbard explained what – aside from the usual obvious reasons – makes mobile a good fit for this business in particular.

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“Flowers are a very impulse-led purchase,” he said. “There are all these emotional triggers – finding out somebody is pregnant, for example, or has got engaged – which often lead to buying flowers. A lot of those moments we’re now consuming on our mobiles, and so it’s a natural place to want to respond to them.” In spite of that, Gelbard admitted, it was desktop rather than mobile where Bloom & Wild first blossomed. “To begin with, despite our intention to be mobile-first, I don’t think we truly were,” he said. “That was a question of resources and experience. But mobile-first was always the ethos and I think it’s now there in our execution as well.”

PUTTING DOWN ROOTS Today, mobile is the majority for Bloom & Wild, across its mobile site and app. While most of its traffic comes from the mobile web, according to Gelbard, it’s the app that provides a superior customer experience. “Mobile web lacks the native benefits of an app,” he said. “When we developed the app, we

ARON GELBARD BLOOM & WILD

TO BEGIN WITH, DESPITE OUR INTENTION TO BE MOBILE-FIRST, I DON’T THINK WE TRULY WERE. BUT MOBILE-FIRST WAS ALWAYS THE ETHOS AND I THINK IT’S NOW THERE IN OUR EXECUTION AS WELL. wanted to make an experience that made use of mobile-native features to reduce the amount of work a customer had to do. Features like the calendar, to make it easy to save future occasions, and payment services like Apple and Android Pay. You can’t connect to a device’s address book on a mobile site.” In an attempt to guide customers to its preferred platform, Bloom & Wild uses its post-purchase CRM program to reach customers, encouraging


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them to use the app in future. It also makes sure to explain the benefits of its app on the mobile site – but, as Gelbard has learned, this is a very fine line to tread. “Initially, we tried to force the app on our users too much,” Gelbard admitted. “While it is the best experience, rather than forcing it down their throats you should give customers the experience they want, and try to create the best possible one for them on the web.”

CAREFUL PRUNING Simplicity, it seems, is key to Bloom & Wild’s approach, and it’s a uniting factor throughout the company’s mobile presence. The app’s UI is influenced by Tinder, borrowing the dating app’s swipe and tap navigation. Gelbard said the main thinking behind the app, however, was making sure there were “as few steps as possible to get through the main purchase flow”. “It was vitally important to reduce the amount of typing, which causes a lot of friction for customers. On mobile, when you’re typing with one hand on a busy commute, each incremental keystroke is a lot of work.”

A key part of preserving this simplicity – and where the comparison with Tinder ends – is the company’s decision to maintain a finite amount of products that customers can choose from. The number of bouquets offered by Bloom & Wild is “somewhere in the teens”, and Gelbard cofirmed that the company did not want to push this selection much further.

ROOM TO GROW

“The difference with Tinder is, in a shopping experience, you might go to the end of the carousel and then come back. We don’t want you to have to scroll back through 200 items to get there,” he said.

One dead end for the company, apparently, turned out to be app install ads. “We haven’t done a lot of it,” he said. “We’ve found it quite expensive. Plus, a lot of people won’t download the app to make their first purchase from Bloom & Wild – I think it just adds another friction point.”

“We’ve been experimenting with filtering on the mobile web, and will follow that up on our app – but fundamentally, we think people want to look at one product at a time, so they really know what they’re getting.” Bloom & Wild applies the same philosophy to the functionality of the app itself. “A lot of apps try to pack everything in,” said Gelbard. “That means they take up a lot of space on the user’s phone, and ultimately it detracts from the primary purpose of why people have this app on their phone.”

So where next for Bloom & Wild? “So far we’ve focused on app and web, but we’re interested in conversational commerce,” Gelbard said. “1-800-Flowers in the US has done a lot of work with bots and Facebook Messenger. I don’t think it’s something our customers are crying out for, and so as a small team we’ve had to prioritise, but it’s an interesting idea.”

Aside from exploring new technological avenues, Bloom & Wild wants to expand its offering on the corporate gifting side, helping CRM teams reach customers with flowers. But Gelbard ruled out a venture into a wildly different product category. “We want to stick with our speciality of flowers and improve on that as much as possible, rather than try to learn how to sell books or whatever else.”

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At the Mobile Marketing Summits, you’ll hear keynote presentations from brands and mobile marketing agencies that will help you take your next steps in mobile with confidence and conviction. In addition to the keynote presentations, you’ll also take part in a series of interactive round table discussions where you can take a deeper dive into the specific topics that interest you the most. And to wrap up the event, our Ask Me Anything panel gives you the chance to get answers to any remaining questions you have and leave feeling both informed and inspired. For more information, call James McGowan on +44 (0) 207 183 2920 or email james.mcgowan@mobilemarketingmagazine.com

PREVIOUS ATTENDEES

To register, head for www.mobilemarketingsummits.com


FEBRUARY 2017

WHERE ARE THE BRANDS? Justin Campbell, CEO and founder of AGCS, takes a look at the obstacles holding back mobile advertising in Europe when it comes to attracting big brand budgets, and how the industry can overcome them. Some people wrongly perceive Google and Facebook as being ad tech companies. Actually, only a small (relatively speaking) part of Google’s revenues comes from Double Click for Publishers, their ad serving division, and Facebook has recently shrugged off the Atlas ad server it acquired from Microsoft in 2013.

Despite smart devices being such an integral part of our daily lives – and, in my opinion, the best way to reach consumers anytime, anywhere – mobile advertising is still struggling to attract the attention of brands. This is taking place on three different fronts.

OVERCOMING THE BLOCK First, consumers are reacting negatively to the development of ‘open web’ advertising technology – traditional display ads, as opposed to closed platforms like social and search – and are installing ad blockers at an alarming rate. Some reports suggest blocker usage saw a 90–100 per cent rise in 2015. The IAB admitted this growth was a result of the industry’s own mistakes, saying in a statement: “We messed up … As technologists, tasked with delivering content and services to users, we lost track of the user experience.” Thankfully, ad tech players and the rest of the ad industry are starting to understand why users are so intent on blocking ads, and small steps are being taken to change the way we present ads on mobile. Ad formats like the ever-popular ‘interscroller’ or ‘parallax ad’ are engaging without being annoying. Publishers need to push these kinds of formats across the board in order to stop the rot.

BUDGET CRUNCH Second, and most importantly, brands aren’t investing their media spend in mobile. There are not enough big budgets from brands going into mobile open web, plain and simple. In countries like Germany and the Netherlands, investment in mobile branding is still very low, and this is stunting growth and innovation. It is not unusual to see a media plan for €100k with only €10K dedicated to mobile, while a much larger amount goes to desktop – with the mobile budget allocated purely to performance banners.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. There are many ways that mobile advertising can still attract big brand budgets and evolve as an advertising medium.

GOODBYE BANNER Too much focus on performance is also stifling the sector. Many advertisers see mobile as a performance channel, synonymous with app downloads, gaming or affiliate traffic. In fact, most independent mobile players that are doing well gain the most revenue from performance marketing of some kind. In Germany, larger publishing houses have concentrated their energies on desktop delivery and left mobile behind completely, filling inventory with frankly terrible performance banners. A cross-platform approach is looking more favourable in the German market, but that does mean mobile-only players (like mobile networks and DSPs) will need to be acquired by or merge with other publishers or tech players.

THE MOBILE DUOPOLY Third, it’s worth remembering that all the numbers claiming that mobile ad spend has increased by a massive amount year-on-year are highly misleading. Essentially, Facebook is now a mobile media giant – in many countries over 90 per cent of Facebook traffic is mobile – and a huge chunk of mobile advertising spend goes towards Google search. These two companies are now effectively the world’s largest publishers.

Mobile video is hugely exciting for brands, for example, and a cost-effective way of advertising to boot. Consumers are less likely to want to block video content if it isn’t invasive, and creating video ads has become much easier and cheaper in the last few years. Rich media companies are now becoming video enablers, and standard networks are repositioning as video networks. Location-based advertising is a great example of using data to improve the accuracy and attractiveness of an advertisement for a consumer, but this cannot be a matter of simply showing banner ads based on location. Some companies are combining a cross-platform play with location, including digital out-of-home, and that story is likely to make brands take mobile more seriously. Finally, non-invasive and native ad placements will win over the hearts and minds of marketing managers within companies across Europe. No one likes pop-up banners, or similarly annoying ad formats, on smaller screens, so as an industry we really need to stop promoting them. When you see a great-looking advertisement that is relevant to you, you’ll be more than happy to engage with it. Retargeting companies have proved that relevant advertising does engage users – now let’s do the same on mobile.

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SPONSORED

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UPWARDLY MOBILE David Murphy talks with OpenX co-founder and chief revenue officer Jason Fairchild about the current state of mobile programmatic and where it’s headed.

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ew things in mobile have been hyped quite as much as programmatic, but when you ask OpenX co-founder and chief revenue officer Jason Fairchild for his views on the subject, it’s clear that he feels the hype is justified. “Let’s start with the basics,” he says. “Advertising dollars follow audiences, and consumers are flocking to mobile. Today, most publishers report that the vast majority of their content is consumed on mobile devices. This has resulted in dollars shifting to mobile, and mobile programmatic in particular. Over 50 per cent of all spend in mobile is programmatic, which is significant considering mobile is expected to be the biggest contributor to global growth in ad spend over the next three years. “For historical context, if you look at the evolution of paid search or display, the foundational requirement for sustainable growth is building a marketplace that trades based on standard protocols, formats and infrastructure. This also applies to mobile programmatic, and the good news is that most of the infrastructure and standards are finally in place. Compared to desktop, the gap between data and targeting is closing, and buyer confidence in mobile is high.”

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Not that the market is without challenges. There are key issues around ad formats and data, says Fairchild, but both are beginning to be addressed. “A good infrastructure is in place for banners and interstitials, but there’s also a growing scepticism as to whether they deliver the best user experience long term,” he says. “There is a school of thought that says the right ad format for mobile has not been invented yet.”

VIDEO INNOVATION The answer to the format issue, Fairchild believes, lies with video. “To get TV ad dollars flowing to mobile there needs to be innovation, and video is the key to unlocking it,” he says. “The biggest question to answer is whether it is realistic to put a 15- or 30-second video ad before a short-form piece of content? Increasingly, the answer is no. So people are experimenting with 6- and 10-second ads, to see what works best. “Again, the programmatic infrastructure is there; we just need to innovate around ad formats that deliver an excellent experience for the consumer and an effective one for the advertiser.” Fairchild is also enthused by native, though he believes it currently suffers from a lack of understanding around what it actually is.

“There’s not a common view of what defines native,” he says. “Asking 10 different people will get you 10 different answers. One of the fastest growing definitions for programmatic native is the chopping of an ad into components – title, description, image – that are then delivered from the buy side programmatically and reassembled within a publisher’s environment in a seamless way, in-stream or not. “As the industry coalesces around a common definition, the only way to achieve scale will be encouraging the buy side to better understand how it differs from pushing a traditional banner ad through programmatic pipes. Beyond more education, native needs evangelising, and being able to do it outside


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predictability and certainty of spend. “An inherent weakness of programmatic in the early days was that buyers had difficulty predicting their spend because they were bidding on every impression,” he says. “If marketers put $100,000 next to a buy, they need to know they can deliver against that buy. To solve this problem, we recently launched a product called Real-time Guaranteed, which helps buyers tie up audience-based targeting deals with publishers on a guaranteed basis through programmatic pipes. It addresses the predictability issue, and will help unlock ad dollars.”

UNDERPINNED BY INNOVATION So where next for mobile programmatic? Fairchild can only envisage things moving in one direction.

JASON FAIRCHILD OPENX

THE GAP BETWEEN DATA AND TARGETING IS CLOSING, AND BUYER CONFIDENCE IN MOBILE IS HIGH. Facebook is the big challenge for marketers and publishers alike.”

PEOPLE-BASED MARKETING Ah, the F-word. So much mobile spend goes to Facebook and Google that people sometimes wonder if there’s any point in advertisers looking elsewhere. In this respect, Fairchild believes the market is evolving, as data providers step up to the plate and start to replicate the ad formats (see above) and the people-based marketing capabilities of Facebook and Google outside of those channels. “There are two issues here,” says Fairchild. “First, can you deliver a Facebook-like in-stream ad outside of Facebook? From

an ad format point of view, the answer is yes. Second, can you duplicate the type of targeting Facebook offers outside of Facebook? Historically, the answer has been no, but this year we will see alternatives that combine people-based data, aggregated through third parties, with Facebook-like advertising delivered outside of the platform. It will enable advertisers to opt in to multiple third-party data layers, combine it with their own first-party data, and then target against that combination. That’s a significant change. The big data providers have made a lot of progress in the last 12 months.” Another area where programmatic is moving forward, Fairchild believes, is in the area of

“We’re going to see continued growth and innovation,” he says. “Innovation around targeting and the ability to mimic peoplebased marketing are inevitable. We’ll also see a lot of work around intent marketing, and an evolution of ad formats, from shortform video to derivatives of native that are more effective, and a raft of things that haven’t been invented yet. Importantly, true programmatic advertising at scale will be at the heart of this growth. The infrastructure is in place and as the data-targeting layer becomes increasingly sophisticated, and more innovative ad formats come online, more budgets will move to mobile.” So as a technology provider working principally on the publishers’ behalf, where, I wonder, will OpenX’s focus be in all this? “Our reason to exist is to help publishers make more money from advertising, so we are focused on all of it to one degree or another,” says Fairchild. “We’ll continue to get the infrastructure in place, including Real-time Guaranteed for predictability. We’ll work with data providers to leverage third- and first- party data to mirror peoplebased marketing outside of Facebook; we’ll work with buyers to develop and test new ad formats and, finally, with publishers to get those tested and working at scale. All underpinned by innovation, because that’s what’s going to drive our business, and our clients’ businesses, forward.”

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MOBILE PROGRAMMATIC

THE STATE OF PLAY Mobile programmatic technology was meant to be digital advertising’s silver bullet, the tool that made good on the promise of what online could deliver to the marketing industry. But as the technology moves from the Next Big Thing to a standard offering, Tim Maytom asks where it stands today – and what’s next?

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epending on exactly how you classify it, programmatic advertising has been around for somewhere in the region of 20 years. Ever since the first banner ad appeared online in 1994, marketers have been declaring digital the future of advertising, enabling brands to finally ‘close the loop’ and target audiences with pinpoint accuracy.

To comprehend where mobile programmatic technology currently stands, we need to break down the increasingly complex ecosystem that utilises it. Only by understanding how each part interacts with the rest can we know where the industry currently stands, and where it might be heading.

Today, programmatic technology has evolved into a complex and ever-growing ecosystem that supports an entire industry. According to IAB figures, over 50 per cent of UK marketers are now using programmatic to buy smartphone inventory. The technology, which was once seen as a way to ‘mop up’ unsold inventory, is now the backbone of the digital advertising space.

Publishers are the lifeblood of the internet and digital advertising – after all, if there was no content online, there’d be no place to serve ads. Supply-side platforms (SSPs) enable publishers to sell their ad space in an automated fashion using programmatic technology, whether it’s in the form of real-time auctions, guaranteed private marketplaces or anything in between.

But as programmatic evolves, does it risk becoming just another buzzword, something that firms simply make a nod towards without truly understanding? And what does the future hold for the technology?

By connecting with multiple ad exchanges, publishers can maximise their potential buyers and achieve the highest possible rates for their ads, all while increasing efficiency and eliminating the need for costly salespeople.

PUBLISHER’S CLEARING HOUSE? NOT ANY MORE

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“Programmatic trading is growing at a phenomenal rate – it’s predicted that it will account for three quarters of all ad spend in the UK by the end of this year,” says Mike Nicholson, director of business development for mobile at OpenX. “Programmatic advertising provides a complete spectrum of options. While private marketplaces are rising in popularity, remnant impressions are still available on the open marketplace. Programmatic isn’t just about clearing less-desirable inventory anymore, it’s now recognised as a more efficient way of trading.” “Premium offerings are now the norm,” says Emma Newman, country manager for the UK at PubMatic. “While it’s true that programmatic – specifically real-time bidding – was originally used mainly to monetise publishers’ non-directsold inventory, programmatic has moved up the funnel.” While publishers are now confident enough to sell their most premium mobile inventory programmatically, some figures in the SSP

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space worry there’s still a significant skill and knowledge gap when it comes to deploying the technology, and understanding the different forms that it takes. “A study by Circle Research in December 2015 showed that 44 per cent of marketers using programmatic for buying smartphone inventory admitted to having little or no knowledge of the practice,” says Nigel Gilbert, vice president of strategic market development for EMEA at AppNexus. “The statistic highlights that education remains a crucial factor in driving future growth. This is especially important among mobile publishers, who are typically newer to the advertising industry and to the challenges facing digital publishers.” Newman is more confident. “Programmatic already is the norm across much of the EU, the US and Australia, among others,” she says. “At PubMatic, we began to see publishers and advertisers really being comfortable with programmatic – how it works, how to start

to optimise and measure their inventory and campaigns etc – as early as 2014. “Today, programmatic is table stakes for publishers and advertisers alike. Many of their challenges come from the new, more advanced solutions or as a result of using legacy technology.”

A HEAD START One of the advanced solutions in question – and one that is currently getting publishers and the industry as a whole very excited – is header bidding. Header bidding aims to move on from the traditional ‘waterfall’ of programmatic trading, where ad space is offered to exchanges one at a time, to a more simultaneous approach that will secure better prices for publishers, and help loosen Google’s stranglehold on the ad industry. “Without a doubt the advent of header bidding and wrapper tags is one of the most exciting recent developments in the programmatic space,” says PubMatic’s


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Newman. “In an industry traditionally partial to the needs of advertisers, it’s great to see the widespread adoption of tools that are geared towards helping publishers maintain control over ad decisioning and, ultimately, the future of their businesses.” The initial developments for header bidding focused on desktop programmatic but changing consumer habits, which have seen mobile become the preferred device and apps the favoured way of interacting with content, have forced the industry to develop mobilefirst solutions that integrate this new form of programmatic trading. “It’s exciting to see the growing demand from mobile publishers for header bidding-like technology,” says AppNexus’ Gilbert. “Mobile solutions provide all the benefits of desktop header bidding in a mobile environment. This allows publishers to manage multiple partners smoothly and reduce latency, empowering them to maximise their revenue and deliver a seamless user experience.”

“Header bidding is the most exciting development, particularly its evolution into apps, as around 85 per cent of time users spend on smartphones is in-app,” adds Mike Nicholson. “While this may seem a contradiction, as apps have no header, the concept is ultimately the same as the desktop variation. Header bidding-style trading in-app is still in its infancy. It’s clear, however, that flooding the DSPs with up to 10 requests from 10 different ad exchanges for the exact same ad request is a grossly inefficient model.”

DSPs to ensure they are getting the best deal and the widest reach. “Data management is crucial to the mobile programmatic ecosystem,” says Meghan Falter, solutions consultant at Adobe. “Without data, we can’t know who is engaging with what content and how to best encourage them to continue their customer journey. “Moreover, programmatic is synonymous with more data. The more variables and possible permutations there are, the more information

MIKE NICHOLSON OPENX

IT’S CLEAR THAT FLOODING THE DSPS WITH UP TO 10 REQUESTS FROM 10 DIFFERENT AD EXCHANGES FOR THE EXACT SAME AD REQUEST IS A GROSSLY INEFFICIENT MODEL. For SSPs, and by extension publishers, efficiency and the move towards higher ad rates seem to be the key factors driving the adoption of programmatic. What was initially a tool for dead-end inventory has evolved over the past five years into something that can cope with premium content from the most prestigious publishers, and guarantee them both brand safety and high prices.

DATA POINTS THE WAY One of the prime lessons that the digital age of marketing hammers into us is that you can never have too much data – and that certainly applies to programmatic. Everything from targeting to optimising to reporting requires masses of data. At the centre of it all sit data management platforms (DMPs), absorbing information and sorting it into formats that will prove useful for marketers, publishers and ad exchanges. While DMPs are deployed on both the demand and supply sides of the ecosystem, many have been integrated into demandside platforms (DSPs) in order to provide marketers with an easier, more efficient way of managing their ad-buying decisions. However, standalone DMPs still exist, and these enable marketers to be more portable with their data, plugging it into a range of

you need to action the right ad, as well as populate it. What’s holding it back from being used to its full potential is the same as it’s always been on mobile – cookies not being supported on iOS, challenges in identifying who is using which device for what purpose.” Jurjen de Wal, product director for mobile solutions at Adform, agrees. “Data management is key to unlocking the full potential of the mobile programmatic ecosystem. Already, the majority of programmatic buying is transacted on mobile, and all industry predictions indicate that this will only increase over time. “What breaks the existing model for brands trying to collect and manage their data effectively are the ‘walled gardens’. The inability for brands to collect device IDs and cookie information easily, to connect these to their own unique customer database and match their customers cross-device, is somewhat at odds with the acknowledgements and advice of key media owners when it comes to customer data ownership, and the need for ‘peoplebased’ marketing.” All this talk of cross-device tracking and attribution, however, raises one of the

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BENJAMIN TICE ORACLE

AD BLOCKING IS THE BLIGHT OF OUR INDUSTRY. THE SOONER IT IS ABOLISHED THE BETTER. spectres of mobile programmatic. Constant retargeting for products you no longer want. Ads that chase you from device to device, around browsers and within apps. The misuse of data and the aura of surveillance that has led many consumers to turn to ad blocking. How do data management platforms, and the industry as a whole, avoid fostering these fears in consumers and act responsibly with the wealth of data they now control?

combine their data for targeting, asking questions like: Is it legal? Is it supported by the tech? Is it adding value for the consumer? It also means the way we think about audience segments has to shift. Instead of a black-andwhite cross-sell or up-sell strategy, brands and agencies need to think about the experience they want their customers to have, then build their targeting strategies and segments from that point of inspiration.”

“Technology enables brands to have a more tailored conversation with their customers, but it’s up to brands to determine how far they take this,” says Benjamin Tice, data management platform sales leader for EMEA at Oracle. “Consumer perceptions around privacy could negatively impact a brand’s innocent ambition of providing its customers with a more relevant and enjoyable experience.

This evolving relationship between consumers, brands and data forms one of the key debates of mobile programmatic. Anyone making use of the technology needs to consider their approach, and the perspective of their chosen audience, whenever they deploy it. Mobile programmatic provides brands with tremendous reach, flexibility and targeting capabilities, but innovation often provides us with tools that, if used irresponsibly, can do more harm than good.

“Ad blocking is the blight of our industry. The sooner it is abolished the better. It serves no purpose and we should all take responsibility for educating consumers about the value of targeted advertising.” Adobe’s Falter, meanwhile, advocates a more measured approach to tackling ad blocking and changing consumer perceptions of advertising. “Consumers want two things: firstly, to feel a sense of security about their data and how it’s used, and secondly, to have relevant and seamless experiences with the brands they engage with. “Brands and agencies have to think very carefully about how they leverage and

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MAKING DEMANDS DSPs, which manage brand and marketer requests to ad exchanges, have perhaps benefited the most from the growing dominance of mobile programmatic. With the increasing availability of data and targeting options, DSPs can offer increasing amounts of flexibility for agencies and marketers looking to fine-tune how they approach their audience. “The demand for mobile programmatic has evolved over the past few years in the sense that brands and agencies have realised that it can be used for specific targeting, and are

willing to pay more for that capability,” says Tom Cummings, vice president of new market strategy at Fiksu. “Where programmatic inventory used to be fairly low quality, agencies and brands are realising they can use mobile user data to reach granular audiences, hyper-targeting exactly the right people at the right time. “Especially now, as targeted mobile ads on walled gardens like Facebook are becoming increasingly expensive, programmatic is filling brands’ and agencies’ need to reach specific audiences on mobile, today’s dominant media platform.” The improved targeting that comes from the addition of mobile data is a huge selling point for both publishers and marketers. This enhanced targeting capability enables publishers to provide more data on their audience and marketers to segment with better accuracy. “As with any digital ad, brands and agencies on mobile are aiming to reach their ideal audiences on a highly targeted level with both precision and accuracy,” says Cummings. “By using programmatic, the expectation is that the ad-buying system will be more efficient and will better target those specific consumers. “From the DSP perspective, the most exciting recent developments in mobile programmatic have been a general increase in high quality publishers, which in turn provide a better inventory of ad formats available.”


DON’T GO CHASING WATERFALLS

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Just as the industry has got used to programmatic trading, it seems ready to tear it all down again with the introduction of header bidding. Tech firms as large as AppNexus and Amazon are building solutions, and some people are calling it the future of programmatic. But how exactly does this new technology work, and why has it got everyone talking?

reaches out to the supported ad exchanges and supply-side platforms for bids, before even its own ad server’s direct sales are fulfilled. Bidding becomes essentially simultaneous, focusing on all available impressions, not just those left over, and publishers can even allow winning programmatic bids to compete with direct-sold ads.

To understand header bidding, you first have to be aware of the inefficiencies that currently exist in most programmatic set-ups. Once a publisher with available ad space on its website has fulfilled any direct sale ads negotiated by its own sales team, the remaining ad space is made available through an ad server, most often Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP). This is what’s known as the ‘waterfall’ sequence, and while it takes place in a matter of milliseconds, it has a huge impact on publishers and advertisers.

The result of this is higher yields for publishers, who are now forcing even the largest ad exchanges to compete for every impression they offer, and better ad inventory for advertisers, who have a chance to access impressions they never would have before. The process also avoids Google’s ‘final word’ with AdX, fighting back against the search giant’s domination of the ad chain.

The unsold inventory that is available is offered to the top-ranked ad exchange first, then passed on to the second-ranked exchange, and so on until the ad is eventually sold. The longer this ‘waterfall’ continues, the more ad exchanges are involved and the slower a page will load. One of the key inefficiencies in this system is the way in which these ad exchanges, or ‘demand sources’, are ranked, and therefore which ones get first refusal on programmatic inventory. Usually, buying volume is the key deciding factor, with the biggest buyer going first, but these aren’t necessarily the buyers that will pay publishers the highest amount for their ad space. On top of this is Google’s domination of the process. Many publishers who use DFP’s ad server use a setting that guarantees Google’s own Ad Exchange (AdX) the final bid on any and all inventory. This enables Google to outbid any other exchange by as little as a penny. This setting is supposed to maximise yield for publishers, but it also puts AdX in a privileged position ahead of its competitors. Header bidding does away with the waterfall system entirely and lets websites solicit simultaneous auctions from every bidder, from the biggest ad exchange to the smallest, with the inventory going to whomever is willing to pay the highest price. The system uses JavaScript placed in the website’s header. As the site is loaded, the code

“Header bidding has been nothing short of revolutionary for publishers,” says James Prudhomme, managing director for EMEA at Index Exchange. “As a method for integrating web pages with the programmatic marketplace, it has brought transparency to a previously murky ecosystem, has eradicated the black box SSP model in favour of open and transparent exchanges, and has ultimately increased publisher yields by as much as 35 per cent.” Header bidding isn’t without its own teething problems, though. Because the code that is introduced has to support and integrate multiple demand sources, it must be tailored to each specific partner the publisher wishes to work with, and so requires custom coding when it is added to sites. There are no defined standards, and each demand source has different needs. Despite the challenges it poses, header bidding seems ready to truly shake up the programmatic market and address some of the concerns that publishers and advertisers have had for many years, creating a fairer, more level playing field for everyone. Adoption is on the rise, and the technology is still evolving. Header bidding wrappers and solutions like Amazon’s rumoured cloudbased header bidding platform will aim to eliminate issues with latency and make the technology easier to implement at scale for publishers. It seems that the waterfall is destined to be disrupted, and if that’s the case, Google needs to prepare itself for what could be a seismic shift in how digital advertising is traded.

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The increase in the complexity and flexibility that programmatic can offer marketers has led to another concern, however – that the ecosystem has simply become too complex and baroque for anyone to actually understand. As agencies and brands continue to undergo digital transformations, shifting from traditional models of business to online to mobile, can anyone be expected to keep pace with the everevolving technology available? “Technically speaking, the industry itself is more than prepared for programmatic,” says Cummings. “However, ad buyers don’t yet fully understand what exactly the different players do. Data and algorithms tend to lack transparency, so marketers are challenged with fully understanding how exactly different ad formats perform. “Understanding how it works and who all the various players are can help a lot. The drive and interest are there; the knowledge just needs to catch up. Eventually, when RTB programmatic becomes the standard for ad buying, marketers and developers will be able to spend more time working on creative and more sophisticated ad content.” That vision of a completely automated ecosystem, where tasks like optimisation and segmentation are taken care of by machine learning algorithms, is part of the reason why there has been an increased drive towards integrating AI into programmatic trading. But if we do succeed in transforming the ad buying and selling process into a truly selfoptimising smart network, are we prepared to take advantage of those benefits from a creative standpoint?

CREATIVE APPROACH The use of programmatic to inform creative is still a developing area, and has been held back by the technology’s roots as a clearing house, but that has started to change. “Programmatic is much more the norm now, and this has been driven by brands and agencies,” says Rob Brown, head of business development at Weve. “The use of smart data, by which I mean intelligent targeting of the right consumer with the right creative message, is much more accepted and a regular feature in many of the campaign briefs we receive.” “Advertisers are beginning to recognise that the content of their mobile ad can be adapted


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marketers and publishers are all aware of the need to tailor their ad formats for a mobile audience, most now know that programmatic offers a vast array of options when it comes to creative.

TOM CUMMINGS FIKSU

WHEN RTB PROGRAMMATIC BECOMES THE STANDARD FOR AD BUYING, MARKETERS AND DEVELOPERS WILL BE ABLE TO SPEND MORE TIME WORKING ON MORE CREATIVE AND SOPHISTICATED AD CONTENT. to fit where the viewer is and the context in which they are seeing it – on the train to work, for example, or relaxing at the weekend,” says Chris Childs, UK managing director at TabMo. “The result is dynamic creative, in which tools linked to the advertising platform select the most relevant ad content based on factors such as location, time of day, the price of goods, even the weather.” In many ways, the rise of programmatic has mirrored the rise of mobile. Just as brands,

“Client demand will always drive adoption,” says Brown. “However, there are naturally varying levels of understanding inside and outside of digital marketing. The use of programmatic will continue to rise as increasing numbers of clients become familiar with its benefits and, more importantly, the value it adds to the media plan. We’ve seen a significant rise in interest from clients around programmatic-based initiatives over the past 12 months, which we see as a great reflection of its progress as a viable mechanic.”

SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? Let’s review. Mobile programmatic is now dominating the industry. Private marketplaces and other ad exchange innovations mean that premium publishers can sell their best inventory using the technology. The exponential growth of data means targeting, optimisation and reporting will grow ever more accurate and in-depth. AI and machine learning innovations are powering the growth of automation and efficiency. Creative is finally catching up with the potential of programmatic targeting. And header bidding promises to overhaul the existing hierarchies that exist, to create a more competitive, vibrant market. So surely there are no problems left for programmatic to tackle? Sadly, that’s not the case. Talk to anyone in the industry, and they’ll give you a different pain point that needs to be addressed, often directly contradicting what another person has said. Ad creative needs to be more innovative and take advantage of audience data, but it also needs to be less intrusive or it risks driving users to ad blocking. Marketers needs more education on how to get the best out of programmatic, but publishers also need to adapt their practices and ensure they are mobile-friendly. Better segmentation and targeting will drive up engagement, but it will also result in self-cannibalisation and consumers feeling surveilled. The truth lies in none of these and all of them. Even though programmatic has now become the standard across the mobile marketing industry, we have yet to find the limits of what the technology is capable of, particularly on

mobile. And the only way we will discover those limits is by continually reaching for the next level of efficiency and reach. “The programmatic landscape is complex, and we are all aware of the many flavours of limitations this complexity brings,” says Adobe’s Falter. “However, it’s not an excuse to wait. Rather, it makes it imperative for us to experiment and share our learnings with the industry.” Despite the wealth of opinions on how programmatic should continue to evolve, there are some common threads among advice for the future. A continued push for education and training among every stakeholder in the ecosystem is one. Another is a consistent drive towards improvements to the infrastructure that underlies the whole digital marketing space. “Programmatic can often appear daunting due to the overuse of jargon and acronyms,” says Weve’s Brown. “However, it’s important to remember that the premise of programmatic is to facilitate a simplified, automated buying mechanic. As an industry, we need to be much better at adopting language that is more readily understood by those who aren’t working with programmatic on a daily basis.” “The biggest challenge is the inability of legacy technology like traditional ad servers to allow programmatic and directsold inventory to compete side-by-side and to provide cross-channel or crossscreen measurement and attribution,” says PubMatic’s Newman. “As publishers become even more savvy about programmatic, we believe that they will begin to demand unified ad serving solutions.” Mobile programmatic may no longer be the exciting new technology on the block – if anything, the rise of header bidding shows that it’s in need of a shake-up – but that doesn’t mean marketers should become complacent in their approach to the technology. Now, more than ever, a firm knowledge of where the industry stands and where it’s going is essential to keeping pace with your competitors. And an enterprising, experimental approach to mobile programmatic could be the thing that edges you ahead. One thing’s for sure – there’s much more to come from the technology.

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FEBRUARY 2017

LIFE AFTER SMS TURKCELL’S STORY Andy Favell sat down with Turkcell’s Ayşem Ertopuz (pictured) and Burak Akinci at 2016’s Turkey Innovation Week to get the full story of how the operator has changed its mobile marketing business following the Turkish government’s Regulation of Electronic Commerce Act. “We are on a fast track from being a technology-focused company to becoming a digital experience provider company,” says Ayşem Ertopuz, assistant general manager, digital services and partnerships at Turkcell. Turkcell is Turkey’s largest mobile operator by subscribers – it has 32.7m subscribers, 44 per cent of total mobile subscribers in Turkey – and by revenue – it earns 40.1 per cent of the country’s total mobile revenue – ahead of Vodafone and Avea, according to Q3 2016 statistics from the national regulator BTK. The telco was one of the first major innovators in mobile marketing, with a permissions-based messaging offering the jewel in its crown. Turkcell’s database business started in 2007 and quickly grew to being one of the largest in Europe. By 2015, it was delivering 798 campaigns for 663 corporate clients to opted-in customers, based on 300 different types of targeting. Today, however, Ertopuz divides up Turkcell’s current proposition into three portfolios.

“Portfolio one is the old telco services of calls, messaging and value-added services. Adding to this are the new communications services such as BiP Messenger and Lifebox personal cloud. Layered on top are the big data analytics base, mobile marketing, digital advertising and all those potential new revenue streams that will transform our profit and loss in the long term. “Portfolio two is focused on digital TV, digital music, digital publishing and digital gaming. These are also applicable for corporate customers as well as consumers; for example, a hospital could roll out our TV+ service to all the patient rooms. “Portfolio three is skewed towards corporate customers, focused on smart places, smart vehicles, smart homes, smart shopping malls, smart cities and so on, including applications that businesses can use to improve productivity, revenue streams and efficiency. So, for example, smart places technology includes digital learning solutions.”

SO WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OPT-IN DATABASE? “We have one of the most advanced opt-in database services in Europe, with approximately 12m people who have opted in to receive messages from our business customers,” says Turkcell marketing and big data services director Burak Akinci. “In a separate opt-in segment, we have 27m people that have opted in to receive commercial messages from Turkcell about our services.” The database was particularly popular with finance, eCommerce and real estate companies, the latter of which delivered the crowning glory of this opt-in database. In early 2015, Turkcell delivered a campaign for developer Dap Yapı, aiming to generate interest in luxury apartments in a new development in İstanbul Marina, currently under construction. The audience was selected based on profile and sent messages based on their time and location. The targeting was so successful that 228 apartments – with an average selling price of around £250,000 – were sold as a result of clients receiving the messages.

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MOBILE ADVERTISING ON THE RISE IN TURKEY

Digital ad revenues (Millions of Lira)

1,000

800

4.2%

4.2%

15.6% Digital advertising Mobile advertising

600

400

200 0

H1 2015

That, however, was before the rules changed. No one denies that some government action was needed. The problem was the unscrupulous Turkish companies that didn’t follow Turkcell’s lead with the opt-in database, and were bombarding Turkish mobile customers with spam text messages with no regard for whether the recipient had opted in or not. “The experience that the customers were going through wasn’t really good, so they had to stop it,” says Akinci, “but they stopped it one step further. Now we hope there will be a comeback.” When the Regulation of Electronic Commerce Act came into force in 2015, the operator’s opt-in service was caught in the crossfire, as regulation turned out to be more stringent than similar rules in other countries. “The Turkish eCommerce regulation has all but killed the opt-in database business,” says Kurt Onur, a lecturer in mobile marketing and advertising at Istanbul Bilgi University’s Next Academy, and a partner at Ketchup Loyalty Marketing. “The limitations imposed

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H2 2015

H1 2016

by the Act are crazy. This was a major blow to Turkcell, but also impacted all Turkish operators, the agencies that worked with them and the brand advertisers.” “The regulation forces the brand to have the opt-in of that particular customer to receive a communication to receive that brand’s communication. It makes it really difficult, because even the biggest brands have only one tenth or one twentieth of the opt-ins that we have in our database. It really stuffed that part of our business,” Akinci admits.

GROWING THE MARKET As Turkey’s SMS marketing business went into decline, though, the mobile advertising market was already beginning to take off. Mobile advertising in Turkey was worth 145m Lira (£31m) in H1 2016, according to IAB Turkey. That’s 15.6 per cent of digital ad revenue in the country. During the same period in the US, mobile accounted for 48.5 per cent of digital revenue. With 59 per cent of Turkish people now owning smartphones, according to Pew, Turkcell believes the mobile ad market has big potential.

“Having spent 15 years outside Turkey and experiencing what is happening in the US, I think we are just beginning in Turkey,” says Ertopuz, who spent that time working at Cisco, where she was senior sales manager. “There is already a well-established market and the players are now beginning to make use of these things we’ve seen on the other side of the pond. So the market is going to just grow.” “70 per cent of this country’s employment comes from small businesses and medium businesses, all of whom are going to need some form of digital advertising and marketing support,” she says. “Turkcell, being the leader in mobile technologies, is well positioned to help the market grow.” With its growing portfolio of digital products – most notably in entertainment and OTT communication – Akinci agrees that mobile advertising is a big opportunity for Turkcell. He believes that apps will be particularly important to its offering for two reasons. First, because some customers now have three different Turkcell apps on their phones, and second, because the apps are OTT – meaning they are network-agnostic.


FEBRUARY 2017

BURAK AKINCI TURKCELL

THE REGULATION OF ELECTRONIC COMMERCE ACT MAKES IT REALLY DIFFICULT, BECAUSE EVEN THE BIGGEST BRANDS HAVE ONLY ONE TENTH OR ONE TWENTIETH OF THE OPT-INS THAT WE HAVE IN OUR DATABASE. IT REALLY STUFFED THAT PART OF OUR BUSINESS.

“Our apps are OTT, so they are not just used by our customers,” he says. “BiP Messenger is downloaded and used by 11m people – 1m of whom are outside Turkey – but 4m of those are our competitor’s customers. So we are not just marketing to Turkcell customers anymore.”

MAKING BIG DATA BESPOKE With detailed information on its 33m subscribers, Turkcell claims to have one of the biggest data warehouses worldwide. The strategy is to harness this customer data to

improve the accuracy of targeting in mobile marketing and advertising, both for client advertisers and the operator’s own campaigns. Data allows advertisers to target Turkcell users based on 300 criteria, coupled with locationtargeting across the operator’s portfolio and, through partnerships, to other publishers’ channels. For example, Turkcell has run pilot projects with social media companies to enable brands to run social media campaigns that are enhanced with Turkcell’s demographic or behavioural attributes.

It also plans to use the data to inform business and marketing strategy, again for both the operator itself and its clients and partners. As the country’s largest operator, Turkcell shares a common customer base with other Turkish companies, and so by opening up its data insights service it can help these companies to better understand the shared customer. “We are going to have to be very smart in terms of investing in data analysis tools, and how we evolve and process this data, how we

SATISFACTION GARANTI’D One of Turkcell’s landmark mobile advertising campaigns to date is for Garanti Bank. The purpose of the campaign was to promote and encourage downloads of the bank’s app, using display advertising within Turkey’s most popular news apps. The strategy aimed to reduce the waste of showing ads to irrelevant people or those who had already downloaded the app. Data analysis was used to determine the target market, but display ads were only shown to the subset of those consumers who did not already have the Garanti Bank app on their phone. The targeting paid off: the ad achieved a download rate that was ten times higher than the average of mobile app promotion campaigns. In total the campaign delivered 500 new downloads every day and cut the cost per download by half.

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FEBRUARY 2017

EXPERT OPINION KURT ONUR LECTURER IN MOBILE MARKETING, ISTANBUL BILGI UNIVERSITY

incorporate the insights from this data into our own business model and innovation, and also how we add value for our business customers,” says Ertopuz. “But we are also aware that we are going to need partners to drive this innovation rather than just using our own capabilities and resources. “Any company that would be willing to join forces with us to provide a better experience to our common customer is very welcome. For example, we talk to Facebook and Google a lot.”

“Historically, Turkcell does not have a great track record in mobile advertising. The strategy of forming its own ad network did not serve it well,” says Kurt Onur. “The mobile ad strategy needs to be carefully managed because Turkcell is both a media owner and one of Turkey’s biggest advertisers. “Operators have huge data warehouses that ought to be monetised. This information will be useful to brands, especially the location data. So exploiting the data warehouse and developing a DMP is the right strategy for Turkcell. But all operators need to act as quickly as possible, as programmatic buying and related technologies are growing exponentially.”

Turkcell is also courting retailers, adds Akinci. “We have a huge depth of data. Other than the usage data, we have the location data, we have the spending data. However, secondparty data is very important to make your big data commercial. “We are in partnership with the biggest retailers. They are also using our authentication tools for their own apps, and they want to have knowledge about the people that are downloading their apps, and we are jointly communicating to the people who use their apps. So it is much richer knowledge about the consumer from both sides.” One example of this is Hopi, the loyalty app of the Turkish department store chain Boyner, which uses Turkcell’s big data to enhance campaign management and targeting capabilities. The operator also offers bespoke data insight services. A good example of this was a project for AnadoluJet, a subsidiary of Turkish Airlines which runs domestic flights within Turkey. As the parent company upgrades its international fleet, AnadoluJet will often use the retired planes for domestic duty.

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WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO BE VERY SMART IN TERMS OF INVESTING IN DATA ANALYSIS TOOLS, AND HOW WE EVOLVE AND PROCESS THIS DATA. improve targeting, particularly of display ads, by combining data from different sources – and Turkcell plans to join them. The operator has just reached the end of the vendor selection process, so it is still early days, and the launch date remains confidential. When it does launch, however, the DMP will allow Turkcell to integrate different sources of online and offline data, and analyse these data streams to match online and offline profiles into a single identity for each customer. From there, it will be able to deliver highly targeted ads to customers, for its own campaigns and those of its clients and partners. “This is our new baby,” says Akinci. “We believe the DMP will give us the capability to activate our big data in the digital advertising world. We are sitting on huge data but we can only activate it for our own communications right now. But the plan is to use this with all display and search advertising. So as soon as the DMP is ready, with all systems integrated, we will be able to use that data to create a unique profile to target the customer wherever they are on the internet.

THE IMPORTANCE OF DATA MANAGEMENT

“The user ID will be anonymous, to ensure security and privacy, but we will have the ability to target them wherever they are. So this will be a huge value to our business customers. A DMP, especially the DMP of a mobile operator, with this kind of data is hugely valuable. This is why AT&T and Verizon and all the big operators are getting into the DMP business,” Akinci concludes. “The reason is obvious.”

A number of large telcos, including Verizon Wireless and AT&T, are developing DMP (data management platform) capability, in order to help companies identify audiences and

Andy Favell visited Turkey as a guest of the Turkish Exporters Assembly.

To help the strategists at AnadoluJet decide between a shortlist of routes, Turkcell mined its data for insights into the most popular flights taken by its customer base, calculated from where handsets were disconnected (ie. on departure) then later reconnected (ie. on arrival) to the network.

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AYŞEM ERTOPUZ TURKCELL


2017

Celebrating Excellence in Mobile Marketing

OPEN FOR ENTRIES ENTRY DEADLINE: 21 JULY www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/awards


FEBRUARY 2017

LIFE ON MARS It picked up 19 trophies at the 2016 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, more than any other piece of work, and has won a host of other awards since – but how did Lockheed Martin’s Field Trip to Mars campaign come together? Tyrone Stewart investigates.

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ou may well have already heard about the Field Trip to Mars campaign. Just in case you actually have spent the past year on Mars, though, let’s quickly recap. The project saw visual effects company Framestore team up with advertising agency McCann New York and aerospace company Lockheed Martin, with the shared goal of transporting a group of unwitting schoolkids to Mars. Inside a school bus. Without ever leaving Washington DC. To achieve this, the trio had to kit out a standard US school bus with a heap of tech, and create the world’s first ever ‘group VR

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experience’. That process all began with the idea of creating an educational adventure for young students. “Lockheed Martin wanted to develop a programme working with young students and they asked us to bring them some ideas on how they could initiate and sustain a programme,” says Daniel Donovan, executive creative director at McCann. “The idea was to create a programme around the Orion spacecraft, to really inspire and educate young people to believe that they can be part of the generation that will go to Mars. Part of that initiative was creating The Field Trip to Mars.”


FEBRUARY 2017

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FEBRUARY 2017

JOSH GROSSBERG MCCANN NEW YORK

WE HAD TO CREATE THIS WHOLE NEW KIND OF SENSOR FUSION TO TRACK EXACTLY WHERE YOU WERE, DOWN TO THE MILLIMETRE.

ROCKET SCIENCE

smooth, accurate surface. It also meant the bus couldn’t simply drive through rocks, mountains, or other pieces of architecture and objects, placed into the virtual landscape. “Whichever route the bus took, there was always something interesting for the kids to look at outside the window,” says McGee.

“What was really important was that we wanted to use a very accurate depiction of the surface of Mars, because the kids were travelling from their school to the Science Museum,” says Framestore co-founder Mike McGee. “So, we wanted what they were looking at to be scientifically accurate.”

This created another issue for the team, one they had to solve by combining technologies in a new way. “We had to create this whole new kind of sensor fusion to track exactly where you were, down to the millimetre,” says Josh Grossberg, group creative director at McCann.

This meant mapping the surface of both Washington and a 200-square-mile section of Mars, so the bus could drive on a

“In addition to GPS, accelerometers and various other things, we had to put a logistical laser – the kind that they use in factories – on the

Once the idea was established, the trio got to work. They had to find a way to do something that had never been done before, and make sure they didn’t disappoint their young, stereotypically fussy, audience.

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bus. It fired at the ground several thousand times per second and you could see how far you were moving in real time, so that every little movement of the bus would be able to translate to the computers that were displaying the world outside.” This meant the team needed computers that were powerful enough to chain images together in an uninterrupted manner, and able to get a signal anywhere. Naturally, this created further issues during the four-month bus transformation process, as the screens of these computers had to be a specific size to fit the window frames. “The plan was to take the windows out and replace them with computer screens,” says


FEBRUARY 2017

MIKE MCGEE FRAMESTORE

WHAT I THINK THAT PEOPLE SAW IN THE TECHNOLOGY IS THAT YOU CAN USE IT FOR PROMOTING A BRAND. YOU CAN ENTERTAIN PEOPLE WITH IT, BUT IT ALSO HAS ENORMOUS POTENTIAL TO EDUCATE PEOPLE.

the technology is that you can use it for promoting a brand. You can entertain people with it, but it also has this enormous potential to educate people. “The bus made a marked impression on children of a very young age. It actually achieved what Lockheed set out to do, which was to excite children about science, about technology and, specifically, about the space programme.” The entire project provided a new, and immersive, way for children all over the world to learn, and demonstrated the future potential of VR for educational purpose McGee. “But, because the windows are a set size, we were also then locked into a certain size screen that could cover enough of the windows in one hit. So we went for 84” screens, 4K resolution – and then had to source those screens from China and Korea.” The interior of the bus – “a genuine 30-yearold school bus,” McGee adds – made it difficult to pull all this off. The entire vehicle had to be gutted and then pieced back together in order to put all the technology, including 16 speakers, in place. “As the dust storm that we’ve created is whipping up dust and blowing little bits of sand and debris on to the bus windows, you have proper surround sound inside the bus, coming

from the direction of the wind,” says McGee. “It creates that immersive experience by having 3D or binaural sound in the bus.”

LIFT OFF The result, which managed to successfully transport a group of youngsters to the red planet en route to the Science Museum, garnered a great deal of success on the awards circuit. It picked up 19 Lions at the 2016 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, more than any other piece of work at the festival, and received critical acclaim from all over the advertising world. “Winning at Cannes is the ultimate accolade. It’s like the Oscars of the ad world,” says McGee. “What I think that people saw in

“This project opens the door for things beyond driving around a Martian landscape, and into other areas for education,” says McCann’s Donovan. “We’ve discussed with Framestore the possibilities of creating more content that a group of kids could experience at the same time. “For example, why couldn’t the bus take the kids on a tour of 18th-century Paris for a history class, or drive through the human body learning about cellular biology?” “This bus is just the first group VR experience,” says McGee. “There’s enormous potential for creating grander and more exciting things with multiple users, a large audience experiencing something together.”

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SPONSORED

FEBRUARY 2017

FIVE THINGS

WE’RE HOPING TO SEE AT MWC Zee Ahmad, director of programmatic at Axonix, outlines some of the conversations around data he expects in Barcelona this year, and through the rest of 2017.

A

s we arrive in Barcelona for another Mobile World Congress, it’s amazing to think that the iPhone has only just recently turned 10 years old. Steve Jobs’ prediction that the device would lead us into a ‘post-PC’ era has inarguably been borne out, but it’s the pace at which this has happened that is truly staggering.

A MASSIVE OPPORTUNITY EXISTS FOR PARTNERS THAT ARE ABLE TO LEVERAGE DATA IN A WAY THAT ENABLES FLUIDITY OF TRADING WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF PRIVACY CONSTRAINTS.

According to ComScore, the tipping point of mobile ownership overtaking PC ownership was reached in 2015. In the same way that the internet gave rise to new media such as blogging, social media and eCommerce, mobile has further refined these channels – and created new ones. Some of the largest businesses of our time, such as Uber, Airbnb and Supercell, are not only mobile-first, but app-first. From a marketing and technology perspective, what is most exciting is how developments in mobile-specific data can help create actionable insights. When combined with the efficiency of programmatic and creative excellence, these insights will provide greater relevance for consumers and higher engagement for advertisers. In Barcelona this year, our hope is to see the following discussions and developments around data.

NEW PLAYERS ENTERING THE MARKET While 2016 brought with it a mixed view

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on where ad tech stands from an M&A perspective, what is clear is that telcos are executing their own strategies. Be it media plays – such as AT&T and Time Warner, or Verizon buying AOL and subsequently Yahoo – or our own data-centric efforts as part of Telefonica, it is clear that telcos have fully grasped the value of their data and how it can be applied in an advertising context. We are also seeing the creation of enterprisegrade data sets from established mobilefirst businesses outside of their perceived core business functions. For example, Uber and MZ are leveraging their robust mobile platforms to assist with broader issues such as the planning of bus fleets and city transportation logistics.

CLOSER COLLABORATION It’s an oft-held view that greater collaboration is needed across the various actors in the ecosystem; both the evolution of data decoupled from media and the ability to fuse it with clients’ own data will see a growth in data-led collaboration. A driving force behind the launch of our probabilistic Insights Data offering was the need to offer a compelling carrier-grade mobile product that can be traded independently of media, for the benefit of both publishers and advertisers alike. Our UK partner Weve also works closely with many brands to develop customised audiences fusing telco and advertiser first-party data to provide unique audience insights.


FEBRUARY 2017

Elsewhere, we see brands such as Experian embracing the growing need to supply data fluidly via programmatic channels. Another good example would be Haymarket Media, which is collaborating with Global Radio to provide audiences on the latter’s radio stations based around the publisher’s portfolio of motoring titles. At the core of collaboration is the need to be mindful of user privacy and this has never been more important than with the impending GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) legislation around the corner. A massive opportunity exists for partners that are able to leverage data in a way that enables fluidity of trading within the bounds of privacy constraints.

GROWING MATURITY OF LOCATION AND MACHINE LEARNING As app usage continues to grow, brands need to evolve targeting strategies outside of the traditional cookie approach. Much of the success of the mobile ‘unicorns’ mentioned above has been based around audience discovery and retention programmes using sophisticated cookie-less solutions. This is no longer a market focused on cost per download, but rather lifetime value, frequency of visit and average revenue per user. While this is undoubtedly a challenge, it is also an opportunity to embrace the rich data signals delivered within mobile – and location is a great example of this.

Location can combine real-world activities (for example, information about the recency and frequency of visits to a store) with AI and machine learning capabilities. In time, this will give rise to data sets that combine real-world data with digital behaviours and trends. This maturity of mathematics, data science and improved raw data will play an important part in the next phase of audience targeting. Those succeeding in being transparent when outlining the true value of their tech and, just as importantly, the truth sets they are running models against, will no doubt thrive.

DEVELOPING A CONSOLIDATED USER VIEW From an advertising perspective, one of the most exciting things about mobile is not so much the channel becoming the dominant way we consume media, but more about how the new data it creates converges with existing data to provide added value and incremental insights that help to build a consolidated view of the user. If you look around data marketplaces currently, there is a lack of mobile-first data, both probabilistic and deterministic, that advertisers are able to ingest into their own DMPs and device graphs. Having this data as part of a consolidated view will not only help solve the issues around reach and frequency, but also help develop smarter creative strategies that play to the strength of each medium and work towards a truer view of attribution across channels.

NEW OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN PROGRAMMATIC Mobile is arguably the most mature channel within programmatic today. According to a recent IAB study, over 70 per cent of mobile is traded programmatically, although the bulk of this trading (58 per cent) is via programmatic direct channels. These deals work well and enable brands and agencies to buy against their trusted publisher partners and their mobile web extensions. The growth of mobile has created new media channels – including messaging apps and audio apps, as well as entertainment apps such as games – although these seem to underindex in terms of the revenue they currently command from brands. A crucial benefit of the new data sets outlined above is that they will provide greater insights into the app economy. In time, this will help bring about real-time and open market audience-based trading opportunities, as well as leading to the creation of audience-based PMPs that sit alongside traditional publisherbased marketplaces. The net effect of better data will be the ability to cut through the swathes of supply and focus in on new high-performing in-app inventory, both in real time and via programmatic direct.

Find Axonix in Hall 8.1 at this year’s MWC. Its stand is located at 8.1B12.

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FEBRUARY 2017

THE SUPERGLUE FOR REAL-TIME CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT Jen Brown, director of marketing, EMEA at Tealium, explains why mobile can be used to hold together the full customer journey.

T

here is no doubt that, for the vast majority, mobile is now habitual – from the moment we wake until we finally part company with our device to sleep. We are attached to our smartphones at the hip, sometimes literally. This means mobile can be used as the marketer’s superglue, in order to create the ultimate prize: a single customer view. Mobile can join the dots between online and offline, enabling organisations to engage customers in real time, no matter which channels they are using to research and purchase. To understand why mobile is needed as the superglue for a single customer view, let’s look at the transformation we have undergone so far. Unless you were born in the 21st century, you will no doubt remember when the retail industry was less complex. Retailers were focused on

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bricks and mortar, supported by above-the-line advertising and in-store promotions. The downside was that, as marketers and data analysts, we were very datapoor. In those days, it was difficult to build relationships with individual customers. While we only had one channel to manage, most of our customers were anonymous, which led to the rise of reward schemes as a means of collecting data.

RAISING THE BAR Enter online, social and, most importantly, the smartphone. Brand advertising is still very important, of course, but now we have the opportunity to identify the individual and their unique behaviours, adding them to segments and audiences in real time across numerous channels. Online has levelled the playing field


FEBRUARY 2017

in regard to price and product, so now our biggest differentiation is customer service and a personalised shopping experience.

do we achieve multi-touchpoint attribution to ensure mobile gets the credit it deserves to drive real organisational change?

However, with a renewed focus on customer service and multi-channel engagements, we need to change the rules and shift the goalposts. Mobile cannot be reduced to yet another channel to advertise on. Mobiles are not just vehicles for engagement, they are tracking devices, facilitating relevant realtime engagement.

The wonderful irony is that mobile is the key not only to customer engagement, but to holding together the entire journey. If we are glued to our mobiles, then those devices are with or near us whenever we are using a desktop computer, or when we are in store. So once we have identified an individual via their mobile, with geolocation or beacons, we can identify that same person across other channels. This is in addition to all the other ways we already have to track visitors across multiple channels using email, transactions, social handles and, if we are fortunate, site or app logins.

The bar has been raised, and expectations are high. As consumers, we will probably pay more for convenience. Amazon is always the obvious example. I personally was prepared to pay for the Prime subscription, even before the bells and whistles of music and video streaming were added. Soon I will be able to do an entire weekly shop, delivered within two hours, from my mobile. As mobile marketers, we are poised to meet the challenge of this raised bar. And we are in a pivotal position; mobile has the ability not only to be a channel in its own right, but to connect all other channels together.

ON THE HOOK I have stopped using the term ‘smartphone’, because the mobile now infiltrates every aspect of our lives – we are truly glued to it. In this app-driven world, we use mobiles to wake us up, to help us zone out during the commute, to control the lighting and temperature of our homes, to order any product or service we need, to board a flight… Let’s face it, we are completely hooked. So what do we need to do to capitalise on the sticky opportunity mobile offers to create meaningful customer engagements? First, we need to take a look at what we hold mobile accountable for. Mobile is a critical influential point in the retail experience and buying cycle. Does it matter if the conversion occurs on mobile or not? It shouldn’t, because a holistic view of your data solves the attribution problem. Algorithms are being commoditised now, so I believe we should embrace data silos to create a single customer view and act on it. Of course, the critical ingredient of true mobile measurement is the underlying data. So how

MASTERING MOBILE MEASUREMENT At Tealium, we recommend a single entity to manage all mobile site and app interaction – a single SDK to rule them all. This will enable you to keep track of visitors across multiple channels, using mobile as the catalyst. If your mobile measurement is mastered, you can effectively engage with anonymous consumers – the known unknowns. With mobile measurement, we can use consumer interactions, across multiple channels, to drive engagements over time until the appropriate value exchange compels them to provide their contact details. So what role does the retail store play in this mobile-centric world we are trying to do business in? How do we ensure we continue to build rapport with our customers and maintain loyalty? Actually, I think we could see a resurgence in retail footfall. The key is not to get hung up on whether the transaction occurs there. Whether the customer reserves an item online to collect from the store later, or if they visit the store to try it on and then have it delivered to their home following an online purchase, does it really matter? With focus, tracking, and an appreciation for how central mobile is, I believe that mobile can truly be the superglue needed for all customer engagement. It enables us to engage both known and unknown consumers, and create timely relevant interactions to drive up revenue, margin, repeat purchases and customer satisfaction.

@mmmagtweets

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FEBRUARY 2017

BE INDIVIDUAL

SPONSORED

C

ompare Ozzy Osbourne and Prince Charles. Bear with me here. Ozzy and Charles are men in their ‘later’ years, both with houses in expensive parts of London. Both are wealthy, both have kids, both talk to plants. Using panel-based demographic data, it would be hard to tell them apart. The data would urge us to show them the same advert on the same site. They’re clearly very different people, but creating an ad that appeals to both would be more down to luck than to skill. Since the very beginning of time, we have strived to get the right people to see our ads. We started by using data gleaned from 3,000-question surveys filled out by people who have time to fill out 3,000-question surveys. We tried to segment audiences into groups in the hope that when we

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showed them an ad, it resonated and they did something because of it. In doing so, there was always going to be wastage. There were always people who watched Home and Away (my dad) who were very different to your typical Home and Away fan (my younger sister). They were shown ads they weren’t interested in, and, heaven forbid, they ignored those ads. Even worse, by addressing very different people with the same voice, we risked not appealing to any of them. Even worse, we risked alienating some, if not all, of them.

A BETTER WAY? Throw into the equation ad blockers, nearzero click-through rates and the ability to pause live programmes so you can fast-

Ilicco Elia, head of mobile at DigitasLBi, explains how to use individual-level data to make your brand count – and how to tell a royal from a rockstar. forward through the adverts, and you don’t have to be psychic to recognise that the industry needs to find a better way to help consumers discover new things.

THERE IS A BETTER WAY Instead of displaying an advert to a group of people and then watching what they do, we can now start by listening to users for an extended period of time before deciding that they should even see an ad. We can look for the signals that indicate they are ready and receptive, and only then display a specially crafted advert that is relevant to that person, at that time, in that location. Instead of starting with ‘everyone’ and then filtering out those who told us they thought they were different in a survey, we can now start with an individual and look for others


FEBRUARY 2017

THROW INTO THE EQUATION AD BLOCKERS, NEARZERO CLICK-THROUGH RATES AND THE ABILITY TO PAUSE LIVE PROGRAMMES SO YOU CAN FASTFORWARD THROUGH THE ADVERTS, AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PSYCHIC TO SEE THE INDUSTRY NEEDS TO FIND A BETTER WAY.

who behave in a similar way to them. We can shift from using static, panel-based data to filter an audience, and instead use behavioural data to group individuals. Instead of identifying a change in London’s weather to display a picture of a Cypriot beach to everyone in London, we should be using a myriad of other signals to help identify when to show them that Cypriot beach. And better still, what kind of ad to show it in.

THE PERFECT OPPORTUNITY We can combine a person’s browsing history – for example, a travel agent’s website – with their physical location – on the high street near a travel agent shop – to help us decide when to show them an ad. The fact that they have two kids with half-term coming up enables us

to make the destination all the more appealing. The fact that they walk around their local park twice a day and have visited or called a vet’s surgery indicates they likely to have a dog. So, once we’ve seen them book their holiday, we can anticipate the next beautifully timed opportunity: options for dog hotels while they are away. Not only can we build a much fuller understanding of consumers and their behaviours, we have a much richer canvas on which to advertise, with the ability to display a series of adverts designed to be viewed by a specific person in a specific order across multiple channels. Today’s marketing can hold continuous conversations with audiences, suggesting one idea after another and developing a more

trusted advisory role than an out-and-out sales one. We should use as many signals as possible to influence the media placement as well as the creative itself. We have the largest computers in the world trained to help us find the right person, at the right time, in the right place, looking at the right website, reading the right article, into which we can place a bespoke advert made to nudge them along the purchase path we have devised especially for them. Use this power wisely until, you know, GDPR comes around. DigitasLBi is a modern, data-inspired agency. It offers clients a complete stack of services, from integrated communications, to commerce to CRM and innovation services. For more information, visit digitaslbi.com

@mmmagtweets

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SPONSORED

FEBRUARY 2017

FROM BLIND FAITH TO KNOWLEDGE AND TRANSPARENCY Chris Childs, managing director of TabMo UK, takes a look at the evolution of the mobile programmatic platform. their smartphones. The IAB UK reported that in the first half of the year, ad spend on mobile outstripped that on desktop for the first time. Questions around the effectiveness of mobile as an advertising channel are starting to become a thing of the past. And to a great degree, this has been driven by the modern programmatic platform.

A

year is a long time in… well, just about any sector. But nowhere is that more true than in mobile advertising.

From commonly being treated as an afterthought, or a channel tested on a small number of users, mobile gained ground during 2016 to become an integral element of advertising campaigns. Budgets increasingly reflected the consumption habits of consumers, who spend ever more time on

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But for full context of the capabilities of the mobile programmatic platform we are now seeing emerge, a brief recap of the adtech industry in general is required.

LOOKING BACK In the early days, buying and selling digital media – based as it was on the offline model of insertion orders – was inefficient. Technology that automated the process was welcomed and added value, and thus programmatic was hailed as the saviour of digital advertising. But, like many good things, it became a commodity, with driving down the price of online inventory as its key focus. At the same

time, programmatic was seen as overly complex – a ‘black box’ – and its intricacies were not well understood. Advertisers expected to pay the lowest price possible for inventory but they did not question where their ad was placed. This was coupled with an overall lack of transparency that saw many ad tech players reluctant to report on where impressions had been placed. The result? Many ads were served on poor quality sites that did not reflect a brand’s values or attract its target audience. Programmatic advertising was, understandably, perceived as delivering poor returns for both advertisers and publishers. Eventually, programmatic and its subset, real-time bidding (RTB), became seen as shorthand for blind-buying into poor inventory, which reduced prices still further. Just as critical was the air of mistrust that shrouded the whole ad tech industry as a result. When viewability, fraud and brand safety started to top the media agenda, it was a natural step to blame the demand-side platforms (DSPs) and supply-side platforms (SSPs) that had played a part in the current state of affairs.


FEBRUARY 2017

STARTING OVER

LOOKING FORWARD

The rock-bottom prices and reputation inform how next-generation mobile programmatic platforms are developing to enable advertisers to focus on data and content. The new DSP helps advertisers to access good quality sites that reach their target audience at a time when they are receptive, and control exactly which of these their ads appear on and how often.

This breadth of high-calibre inventory means advertisers no longer have to sacrifice audience quality to serve more ads.

Mobile content has also become much more robust. Almost everyone has a mobile device, so publishers understand the benefit of optimising their websites to be viewed on a mobile screen as well as offering the content via an app. The result is a huge increase in the amount of highquality mobile inventory. This benefits everyone: the publisher, who can charge accordingly; the advertiser, whose content is seen in an environment that fits its brand; and the user, whose viewing experience is improved by better editorial and commercial material.

Modern DSPs can use all available content to build private marketplaces for each category in which an advertiser might want to advertise. More control for advertisers is offered in the form of brand verification and frequency capping, for example, meaning advertisers no longer face the constant risk to their brand safety. There is also a consensus that programmatic trading cannot afford to be a complicated machine that is whirring and buzzing away behind closed doors. Platforms need to be open to showing advertisers and agencies how they target, and geotarget, the sites they use and where advertising budgets are spent, for example. This is much easier for platforms such as TabMo that own their own technology.

Having been burned once, advertisers, too, are taking responsibility. More and more are forming their own programmatic teams that have in-depth understanding of the programmatic landscape and how best to use it to meet their brand objectives. Whether this knowledge shift from technology platforms to brands continues, though, and what the consequences will be if it does, remain to be seen. Programmatic is earning itself a better reputation, but the future will be no less interesting.

TabMo provides a mobile video programmatic platform for advertisers and agencies. Its owned and operated full-stack platform, Hawk, delivers mobile display, video and native advertising campaigns to targeted audiences on a global basis. To find out more, visit TabMo.io

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FEBRUARY 2017

SPONSORED

UX-RATED Duncan Keene, UK managing director of ContentSquare, explains the role that user behaviour analysis has to play in increasing mobile conversion rates.

T

he shift to mobile is evident everywhere we look. If you’re reading this now on a bus or a train, look around you at all the people glued to their phones. As you do, you’ll see also that the addiction to mobile is in no way a millennial-only phenomenon; it holds across all age groups and demographics. This trend towards mobile consumption is reflected in an explosion in mobile traffic to websites, and a similar increase in app usage. In fact, according to ComScore’s ‘Global Mobile Report’, British consumers now spend 46 per cent of all their digital media time in smartphone and tablet apps. Yet despite this increase in mobile activity, mobile conversion rates remain flat, because consumers behave very differently on mobile compared to how they behave on desktop. Sadly, however, their journeys and needs are not being catered for by the majority of mobile sites and apps. The message is clear: eCommerce teams urgently need to address how they optimise their mobile sites and apps to increase conversion.

THE DIGITAL SALES ASSISTANT In the digital world, there are no sales assistants to help consumers find what they are looking for. Your UI (user interface) and

UX (user experience) are everything. Most brands with an online presence have worked hard on these aspects of their websites, and have reaped the benefits in terms of increased conversion rates and basket values. But on mobile, things are different. Consumers have high expectations in terms of page load times and easy, intuitive navigation, and will not hesitate to click away if they are not met. Scrolling, swiping and snacking have become impulsive behaviours, but they are behaviours that most apps and mobile sites do not cater for.

use it to retrospectively analyse user behaviour, so if conversion rates fall, you can look at what has changed on the site or in the app that may be responsible. By analysing site-path navigation; and conducting zone analysis to understand each zone’s role in conversion, attractiveness and hesitation, and optimise their performance, you can easily and visually identify areas of interest and rearrange elements to maximise time-on-site, taking the guesswork out of mobile conversion and empowering your teams to deliver an engaging

THE FACT IS THAT MOST ECOMMERCE TEAMS DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY MOBILE CONVERSION ROSE OR FELL ON A PARTICULAR DAY. The fact is that most eCommerce teams don’t understand why mobile conversion rose or fell on a particular day; they don’t understand why mobile customers behave the way they do. This is because they don’t have the right tools in place to enable them to see and understand what’s happening. But the tools are out there. From a simple integration, ContentSquare’s platform records every user session and then stores and collates it to enable you to see what’s working, and what isn’t, so that your eCommerce and mCommerce teams can see quickly what they need to change and optimise. You can even

and coherent user experience that will keep your customers coming back, and spending. Brands like Orange, Unilever, Clarks, Accor Hotels and BooHoo.com have seen first-hand what user behaviour analysis and the resultant UI and UX optimisation can do for their mobile conversion rates, and are bucking the trend that sees most brands fail to turn an increase in mobile users into increased revenues. The shift to mobile is only going to increase. If you’re one of the many brands struggling to understand why your mobile conversion rates are not doing the same, perhaps it’s time to act.

@mmmagtweets

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FEBRUARY 2017

“ALEXA – STOP!” David Murphy gets up close and personal with Amazon’s personal assistant.

I

f last month’s CES is any sort of guide, AI and personal assistants are likely to be big news at Mobile World Congress, as Amazon and Google – plus, in all likelihood, some new challengers – do battle for control of the living room. I’ve been living with the Amazon Echo for just over a month now, so I thought it might be worth sharing my impressions of life with Alexa. First, the basics. It’s cool – beyond cool, even – to be able to control things with your voice. Take music, for example. Out of the box, Echo is configured to use Amazon Music as its default music library. Amazon is sensible enough to acknowledge that Spotify has some traction, though, so you need only change the default music library setting to Spotify, then say, “Alexa, play Interpol”, and she – you soon get used to calling her ‘she’ rather than ‘it’ – will shuffle Interpol songs. When you’ve heard enough, just say “Alexa, stop” to end the music. As an aside, the sound quality’s not bad either. A couple of notches below my Sonos Play:3, but then at 24cm tall by 8cm diameter – about the size of a pack of Pringles – the Echo doesn’t have the volume to shift as much air. Besides, talking to your Sonos speaker will get you nowhere. Beyond music, what Alexa can do depends on what skills – Alexa’s name for apps – you equip her with. According to Amazon, over 7,000 skills have been published to date, ranging from Uber to JustEat, and from National Rail enquiries to bedtime stories. If you download newspaper skills – the Guardian, Telegraph and Mail are currently available in the UK – you can ask Alexa to give

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you a ‘flash briefing’ where she will read you the headlines from the latest edition. It’s here that some of her weaknesses become apparent. Once Alexa tells you what sections she can read, you pick the one you want – News, Sport, etc. – and she gives you the top headlines in that section. She then asks either which story you want to hear from these headlines or, at the end of each headline, asks: “Would you like to hear more about this story?” The intonation of this phrase, however, is slightly odd. The emphasis is placed on the second half of the word and the end of the word is extended so that “story” becomes “storree”, with the emphasis on “ree”. If you do ask her to read the entire story, she’ll tell you how long it will take before beginning. When it comes to the reading of the story, it’s reasonably easy to follow, although she does come over as slightly robotic at times and words do occasionally run into each other. Once again, intonation is also an issue. With the emphasis routinely put in the wrong place, it just sounds slightly odd. But if you really want to impress your friends, you’ll want to hook Alexa up with other smart devices around the house, like connected light bulbs or even dumb devices that can be smart-

enabled via a connected plug, such as TP-Link’s HS100 Smart Plug. Download the TP-Link Kasa app, then connect anything – a TV, aircon unit, whatever – to this plug adaptor and you can control it simply by talking to Alexa. Neat. On a more basic level, she can be a little frustrating. Ask her what Donald Trump did before becoming president and she replies: “Sorry, I didn’t understand the question I heard.” She says that a lot actually. Ask her who Donald Trump is, however, and she will tell you he is a businessman, television personality, politician and the 45th President of the United States. You have to be very literal when asking her a search-type question, in a way that you might not have to be when quizzing Google’s rival personal assistant, Google Home. I suspect if we look back in a few years’ time on the Alexa of today, she will seem quite primitive. But she offers a fascinating glimpse into what the near-future might look like, and when you think of the potential she has to improve the lives of people with visual impairments, you’d have to say Alexa is a force for good. Whatever her failings, my advice for any brand marketer would be to buy one immediately and see what other brands are doing on the platform, because the personal assistant phenomenon is one you can’t afford to ignore.


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Profile for Mobile Marketing Magazine

Mobile Marketing February 2017  

The February 2017 print edition of Mobile Marketing, with a focus on AI, VR, Turkcell and Programmatic

Mobile Marketing February 2017  

The February 2017 print edition of Mobile Marketing, with a focus on AI, VR, Turkcell and Programmatic

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