“Mobile is the next big thing… and it always will be.” How many times have we laughed and cried at the humor and reality of that quip? The reality is, working in the mobile industry has generally meant that each person had two, often conflicting, objectives: to advance the interests of their own company and the mobile industry as a whole.
But then, two amazing things happened back-to-back. Google acquired AdMob and Apple acquired Quattro. Suddenly, mobile advertising isn’t an entity struggling for recognition and getting eclipsed by the internet behemoth, it’s getting face-time, press, tweets, and attention from more sources than ever before. It’s all great for the industry, and we should take the time to celebrate…
Now that you’ve celebrated, it’s time to get down to business. With recognition comes responsibility, specifically, the responsibility to take a long hard look at our business models and make them succeed, not just survive. Companies can’t scramble to be ‘everything to everyone’ because those days for mobile (happily) have passed. Companies have to develop core competencies, focus on what they do best, and trust that any gaps are being filled by other service providers, who are equally focused on doing what they do best.
In the past, mobile ad networks have satisfied all of the needs (if not some of the wants) of their two clients – publishers and advertisers. This was a hefty burden to bear, but in a nascent market, there were few alternatives and most ad networks, at one time or another, played the part of network – satisfying the conflicting demands of publisher and advertiser, creative agency, analytics provider, mobile web and application development firm, mobile marketing firm, and more.
It was a daunting task and prevented many networks from focusing on their core competency –packaging targeted mobile ad inventory and selling it to advertisers. Now, with the industry maturing, and more companies surfacing to address gaps in the ecosystem, ad networks have the freedom to focus on making their niche in this exciting ecosystem as successful as possible, and, at the same time, reduce marketplace confusion and increase through-put.
As the industry evolves, the successful firms will be those that carve out their niche, cooperate with complementary service providers, but remain laser-focused on the value that they bring to the marketplace.
New players, like the mobile ad mediation providers, ad exchanges, and ad optimizers provide the efficiency and market clarity that the mobile advertising industry needs to achieve the size and scale expected from a maturing industry. By focusing on one particular challenge – whether it’s publisher fill rates, deriving value from unsold inventory, or increasing advertiser value – specialized companies will create a mobile advertising marketplace without the conflict and confusion that has both ensured the industry’s survival and hampered its growth.
The next age of mobile advertising will see tremendous opportunity for companies that are ready to emerge from survival stage and embrace the responsibility that maturing industries require.
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