By this point, every major ad tech company that didn't have a mobile offering last year, either has one now or is about to have one before Thanksgiving rolls around.
The latest entrant in the race is ad network Adconion Media Group. The move comes several months after the UK-based company sought to deepen its display video services by re-branding one-time YouTube challenger Joost as Smartclip - nearly three years after it acquired the video property with the goal of being able to offer a comprehensive multi-screen ad solution.
With the growth of smartphone and tablet usage, the desire to capture users on all their media devices is paramount. But like the video space, even after several years with every digital ad tech conference featuring at least one panel discussion about "mobile being the next big thing," there really doesn't seem to be anyone making a killing in mobile advertising.
Even Apple, with its pioneering dominance of the smartphone and mobile app markets, is having trouble attracting media buyers and marketers to its closed, cookie-less iAds system. (Evidence of Apple's stumbles with iAds can be found in the fact that the service started off with an entry level price of $1 million in ad spending and over the past year, that threshold was lowered to $400k and then $100k.)
The question companies like Adconion are asking themselves these days is, "Can mobile generate substantive revenues?" The response, from Peter Davies, SVP ad sales and marketing, and Ben Fox, Adconion's EVP, comes in three dimensions: the space is young and growing, so no, mobile revenues alone won't be enough to build an solely sustainable revenue stream for some time. But having mobile closes a very necessary loop around other digital and offline ad supported media consumption.
"Our top advertisers know they need to be in the mobile space," Davies told AdExchanger. But it is difficult to track behavior across mobile and it's a very nascent market. Publishers and advertisers are largely handling the challenges that come with an emerging space like mobile. In the next 8- to 12 months, you’re going to see the challenges diminish, as more dollars flow into mobile."
"This is the year of mobile advertising," Fox interjected. "The industry will spend over a $1 billion on mobile this year, so this is more than a complement."
Aside from the matter of lack of a standard measurement of mobile audience numbers -- something that plagues online advertising in general -- the paucity of widely embraced standards for mobile ad units is also a problem. What marketer wants to spend the extra money to create a separate ad for an iPhone, and any number of devices that run Google Android or Microsoft's Windows 7. Because of those issues, mobile still has a scalability problem, despite the fact that so many people have smartphones these days. Adconion insists it can help alleviate those problems.
"Consumers are inundated with opportunities to consume content across multiple screens and multiple places. And that means it’s harder and harder to reach audiences at scale," Davies said. "What we hear from advertisers is, "How do we achieve scale without having to rely on hundreds, if not thousands of vendors?" What we’re doing with the addition of mobile is offering a unified view of reaching an audience from email to social to general display – and mobile is very different from what consumers are doing elsewhere. And we can pull in the data about that usage and show how it’s impacting and reflecting other media formats."