5 Things to Look for in an Ideal Mobile Ad Network

As published on Social Media Today

State of Mobile Advertising 

mobile-web-developer-socialmarketingfellaSpeaking at the Mobile and Web Developers Conference in San Francisco last week, Opera Software’s EVP, Mahi de Silva, issued the company’s State of the Mobile Web assessment. As part of their industry insight series, Opera conducts the definitive analysis of the key trends affecting the mobile Web worldwide. Each report provides the most frequently visited sites, key data metrics from Opera Mini (Opera’s hardware-independent Java browser) and a snapshot of a specific trend chosen by the analysis team.

Opera-Software-mobileOpera first developed a mobile browser in 1998. Since then, the company has maintained an authority on mobile trends, and enabling a full Web experience on mobile phones. Today, Opera’s network covers 9,000 global customers, with more than 35 billion ad impressions per month. The company drove more than $250 million in revenue to mobile publishers in 2011 and predicts generating more than $400 million in 2012.

Mobile Trends

Opera’s findings indicate that devices with better usability (i.e., larger screen size, touch/swipe) and that allow more interaction (e.g., expand, click to call, play video) have the best monetization potential. But better usability and features doesn’t necessarily equate to success. De Silva explains, “Windows phones have most of the advanced features of Android and iPhones, but low user adoption stifles performance.”

One metric that’s undisputed is the popularity of rich media in mobile. As phones are able to process more quickly and deliver better resolution, immersive video and HTML5 rich media have become the mobile advertiser’s dream technologies. In just the past six months, Opera has seen a marked shift from banner and standard advertising to video and rich media.

Mobile-trends-6moMobile Advertiser Options

Of course, along with the proliferation of smartphone technology, features, and mobile trends, comes a litany of players in the mobile ad market. Ad networks with the highest fill rates tend to have lower eCPM payout rates, while those with high payout rates tend to have low fill rates. High paying ad networks’ eCPM rates fluctuate radically (as much as 370 percent), while ad networks with lower eCPMs (and high fill rates) fluctuate at lower levels (but still as much as 43 percent).

With all these options, what should advertisers do? De Silva and Opera offer five key characteristics to look for in a good mobile ad network.

Top-5-Mobile-2501. Targeting

You want to be able to buy your audience mobile just as you do online. Look for a network that uses verified, 3rd-party household-level data to hone in on the hard-to-find audience segments.

2. Transparency 

Most ad networks are blind, so you don’t know where your ads are running. Premium means you’ll be able to see and customize site lists of the very best mobile sites and apps.

3. Unduplicated Reach

Lots of networks claim reach, but how much of that can be (and is) acheived from another network in your mix? Look for those that have exclusive relationships with publishers–you’ll not only get unique access, but you’ll also be able to run more creative and integrated campaigns.

4. Early Session Impressions

In mobile, speed is everything. A mobile ad network that uses the same server as the publisher will provide early session impressions, which means faster load times and higher CTR.

5. Mobile Expertise

Often it’s the people that are most important. You’ll want to work with a team that knows mobile inside and out: creative, development, and campaign optimization.

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Andre Bourque (SocialMarketingFella) is Editor Emeritus of Technorati.

He covers emerging trends and news in social, mobile, cloud, and related technologies.

Based in San Francisco, he can be contacted via his social channels and at: andrefbourque@gmail.com

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