Traditional publishers underestimate the amount of work required to get the content and ad experiences right for mobile.
Unlike some publishers, theScore optimizes its programmatic channels every day to maximize yield.
“It’s a daily process to make sure things are in place and we’re squeezing the most out of inventory as possible,” Ross said.
Traffic spikes on game days, making it important to use programmatic channels to capture revenue from that extra use.
“The average user on NFL Sunday comes back 10 times checking stats and scores,” Ross said. “Usage is deep.”
Optimizing on mobile requires knowledge of what vendors and setups work best for the platform. TheScore only works with vendors that are mobile-focused. And if there are 10 moving parts in desktop programmatic, there are about 50 for mobile, Ross estimated, which he believes makes it a much more challenging platform.
TheScore attracts direct-sold campaigns as well, which involve more splashy high-impact units, such as interstitials or large in-feed video units. Advertisers include Miller Lite, Just For Men, Audi and Ford.
Some of these brands are large, tier-one advertisers that already sponsor sports events, while others use theScore to get access to a sports audience they can’t afford on TV.
Ross sees two attributes of mobile that are highly desirable for advertisers. First, geotargeting allows advertisers to target people by location, such as those near a Dallas Cowboys game. And advertisers want to reach fans while they’re engaging with their passion.
“For March Madness, that’s a 16-day tournament and nobody has all the TVs to watch every game,” Ross said. “It’s a mobile-centric event and a huge traffic driver. Advertisers realize that there are specific verticals that lend themselves well to mobile.”
TheScore’s short-term goals include going broader with its coverage and deeper with its advertisers. It added the eSports app in February, and will launch a fantasy sports app within the next few weeks. It’s also working on setting up private marketplaces for advertisers and increasing campaigns designed around key games or events, such as the postseason.
Its focus on mobile allows it to create sponsorships around mobile-only opportunities, such as branded alerts every time the user’s favorite team scores. That’s what sets theScore apart, Ross said.
“A lot of companies [that] were really successful in desktop try to apply the same principles to mobile,” he said, “and it’s just not the same.”