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Smartphone ad technology boom

This year more money will be spent advertising on mobile than in print. According to eMarketer, mobile ad spend will rise 83 per cent to £5 billion. It is an industry growing at an astonishing rate.

Why? Well, it’s not merely down to the fact that consumers are glued to smartphones, though that is true as average mobile device usage is up half an hour a day this year to 2 hours 51 minutes per person. Newspapers and magazines can only dream about getting that sort of attention.

No. The reason mobile is booming is the rise of programmatic advertising. The clue is in the name. You can program your campaigns to target audiences precisely in real-time. Unlike print, in which advertisers can pick which magazine or newspaper, but have no say over which readers see their content, programmatic advertising on mobile allows brand owners to micro-manage a campaign using a dazzling array of big data and targeting options.


Advertisers can find their customers by what phone they use or where they live in the country, or whether they are using wi-fi or cellular data, by the time of day, and even on tablets only. If you want to make sure the only people to see your ads are iPhone users in Newcastle using the Sky Sports app after 8pm on a Tuesday, then that is simple to execute.

All these variables can be adjusted on the fly. If response rates are outperforming, you can increase the budget and get more ads in front of potential customers. Or, if fulfilment hits a snag, instantly curtail activities.



At the heart of programmatic advertising is the way space is purchased. This needs some explaining. Instead of buying space en bloc, brands buy on a slot-by-slot basis, using an automated bidding algorithm that values each user interaction or impression. Each time a user navigates to a new mobile webpage or new screen within an app, the real estate is auctioned off in well under a second to the highest bidder. The amount bid by each brand will depend on how highly they value the customer. This value is calculated using all the known data on the customer.

I’m incredibly proud of the fact that a UK firm has led the way in this industry

For example, Samsung Galaxy SIII users may be valued more than Nokia Lumia users, or users in Chelsea more than users in Corby, depending on the campaign’s goals. An algorithm programmed by the brand sucks in all data and automates the bidding process. When done correctly, the bid process ensures brands vary their real estate costs to the value of the customer, ensuring massively increased return on investment (ROI). For these reasons, Proctor & Gamble and American Express have stated they will move 70 to 100 per cent of their ad spend to programmatic advertising in the near future.

How do you know if you are getting positive ROI? Because this is internet advertising, the performance of each campaign can be closely monitored. There is no ambiguity around click-through rates or conversions. It’s all trackable. Even hard-to-measure customer metrics, such as brand awareness, consideration and purchase intention can now be tracked with precision.

The whole campaign can be implemented, tracked and fine-tuned using a simple-to-learn online interface. For brand managers, it is a dream – a captive audience, which can be segmented into an infinite variety of combinations, waiting to be targeted with the right ads at the right time for the right price.

BYYD-Embedded-statNewcomers to programmatic advertising tend to raise the same questions. For example, how can one brand access the whole galaxy of real estate that is up for grabs? After all, there are many ad networks to choose from. The answer to this is to use a demand-side platform or DSP. This DSP has access to all the relevant publishers, allowing your campaign to buy space no matter who the content owner is or which network they have partnered with.

Another common query is how individual customers are tracked to determine ad effectiveness. Cookies don’t work well on mobile devices, which means many of the advertising technology platforms built for the desktop are substantially less effective when it comes to smartphones. Cookie-less tracking approaches instead use proprietary technology to identify and track interactions using a long list of available clues to identify each device. The result is similar to cookie-tracking; the user is identified as a unique entity, but remains anonymous.



Brands need to select a DSP with care. The platform used by the three major UK mobile networks EE, O2 and Vodafone for their joint venture in mobile marketing called Weve, is London-based Byyd. Founded by mobile technology natives Victor Malachard and Wes Biggs in 2008, Byyd has led the mobile industry since the earliest days of programmatic
advertising. As a dedicated mobile DSP, Byyd has access to more than 350 billion impressions globally. It offers brands easy access to all major mobile inventory exchanges, such as Google’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange, Millennial Media’s MMX, Twitter-owned MoPub and The Rubicon Project.

Byyd provides brands, agencies or their trading desks with a suite of integrated campaign management, real-time reporting and analytical tools called Madison.

What results can you expect? When Sony launched the Xperia Z1 smartphone it partnered with Byyd to raise product awareness. In one month, the campaign bought programmatically using Byyd helped raise awareness from 37 per cent in the non-exposed control audience to 60 per cent. Consideration soared and users were twice as likely to consider buying a Z1. Purchase intent doubled too as users were twice as likely to buy. It is worth emphasising that not only could Sony target receptive users with the right message at the right price, but they could also rely on Byyd to provide the ROI metrics.

Performance like this has built Byyd a reputation as a world leader in programmatic mobile advertising. Chief executive Mr Malachard says: “I’m incredibly proud of the fact that a UK firm has led the way in this industry. This last quarter, our turnover was up 86 per cent on Q3 last year. We’ve helped the industry grow from the early days, when only early adopters would consider programmatic mobile advertising, to today when any serious brand sees it as a must-have part of their marketing mix.”

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