Contributed by Xavier Facon, CTO of Crisp Media
Mobile has been a notoriously fragmented and difficult market to crack in the already difficult digital space. The work done in the USA to create standards over the past two years could, however, serve to unify the whole digital market as ad serving standards can enable publishers in Asia to start driving HTML5 adoption and simplified advertising deployment across all screens.
For a long time ad pundits in the USA have complained the technology ‘pipes’ are broken, because there are so many different device platforms and a lot of proprietary ad technology such that content is besieged and not accessible to advertisers. That was the case 2-3 years ago, but although device platforms are generally fragmented, the market leaders in new device activation, iOS and Android are changing the game. Those two platforms are converging with great support for HTML5, even though their app platforms diverge in terms of their native code, which means that advertisers who deliver ads via HTML5 for web and app content can serve across both easily.
Even online display advertising has been struggling for a long time to get ads to work consistently on various websites and browsers; it’s something a standard ad creative tool kit would have fixed. This time around, mobile got it right, while also adding a dozen more features suited to mobile apps. The Interactive Advertising Bureau has set specific mobile rich media standards that theindustry is beginning to adopt.
We’re also starting to overcome hurdles in measuring creative between all the different rich media vendors. Mobile ad creative deployed on a wide variety of smart phones are now HTML5. This includes those from iAd, Crisp Media—my company–Celtra and just about every other mobile rich media ad out there. Many of these vendors, publishers and ad networks are working together on initiatives to set standards. My company Crisp, with The Weather Channel, Jumptap, and PointRoll founded Open Rich Media Mobile Advertising (ORMMA) to set standards to allow advertisers to run and measure the same campaigns across devices, platforms, networks and publishers. Since, more than 20 other mobile ad companies have joined us.
Mobile is also starting to create standards to move beyond the click-through rate (CTR) for measuring performance. CTRs have already proven to be completely inadequate as a measure of campaign performance and improved engagement, but post-click metrics address this issue. The MMA is working to make it possible to measure cross-campaign engagement metrics across devices, platforms, publishers and networks, and mobile being the younger nimbler marketing channel is driving the development of best practices.
Challenges certainly still exist in mobile, but the priority for organizations like the Mobile Marketing Association, IAB and ORMMA is to clean out those clogged pipes and push through standards and education that will get mobile ad buying flowing quickly.
Specifically, the open source initiative ORMMA.org has worked in the US with the IAB to create a standard called MRAID, which makes HTML advertising work in iOS and Android applications, and will soon work with Windows apps as well. That means that publishers can deploy advertising campaigns without regard to the marketing channel on digital content. Whether the ad needs to run on a web site, a mobile site or a mobile application, the same ad placements can work and leveraging HTML5 capabilities can include rich features that take advantage of device capabilities like location, calendar, accelerometer, video and more.
Can Asia take advantage of the work done in the USA to merge their approach to monetizing digital content? Yes, and probably faster because there is less legacy technology to remove than in the USA. Asia is already showing that it can outpace Europe in terms of the growth of its digital ad spend However, a trend toward home grown ad servers and proprietary technology is growing in Asia as well, so it would make sense for emerging media execs in Asia to keep an eye on what the IAB and MMA are doing to make their lives easier.
Xavier Facon is CTO of Crisp Media a rich media advertising technology company based in New York City where he leads product development and strategy.