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The need for transparency

Filed under: All Articles > Industry News
By: NMK Created on: December 16th, 2010
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Paul Childs, chief marketing officer at Adfonic, looks at the need for greater transparency in the mobile advertising industry and examines why the picture is still not clear.

By Paul Childs

Mobile advertising is a rapidly evolving industry. Few would question this view or that it has enormous potential for growth. A recent Forrester report predicted that by 2014 over 40% of consumers will be accessing the web via a mobile. So, it’s a medium advertisers and publishers cannot afford to ignore. Yet the reality is that despite significant growth, we’re yet to see mobile advertising take off in the explosive way that it undoubtedly has the capacity to do.

It’s not tough to work out why this is. Mobile is still in its infancy as an advertising channel and the simple fact is that advertisers – particularly the big spending brands - need to be convinced that mobile will deliver. For that, they need the same insight and availability of data throughout all stages of a campaign that they are used to with traditional online campaigns.

Even looking back to the days before online advertising revolutionised the immediacy and volume of data available, advertisers have always required relevant insight and data to optimise their campaigns. No marketer booking a TV ad slot 20 years ago would have done so without an understanding of the audience profile and numbers that they would reach. Similarly today, with the availability of broader and more sophisticated data, there is an even greater need for the right tools and actionable, tangible data to maximise campaign performance from planning through to reporting and analysis.

As online advertising technology has evolved advertisers now expect to be able to plan campaigns and select audiences with great precision; to track, analyse and optimise campaigns in real time; to delve deep into campaign performance right through to post-click activity and to understand the lifetime value of their customers.

So it comes as a surprise to advertisers testing the water with mobile that the metrics that have underpinned the growth of online advertising are not yet common practice in mobile. This is undoubtedly causing hesitation amongst marketers at a time when budgets are under intense scrutiny and the ability to prove ROI on marketing spend is paramount. Certain metrics need to be in place for mobile to prove itself as a viable advertising channel.

If we look at the stages of the life cycle of a campaign – broadly speaking ‘pre-campaign’, ‘live-campaign’ and ‘post-campaign’ - it’s easy to see where mobile is currently falling short of its potential and where clear opportunities for development lie.

One issue impacting pre-campaign planning is the fact that the majority of mobile devices do not currently support cookies. Increasing Smartphone adoption will go a long way to addressing this with improved capacity to target relevant audiences. Advertisers need to be able to select their audiences with greater accuracy and there is an increasing requirement for access to data to determine unique audience reach. Post–campaign events must also be implemented as standard at this stage to facilitate the tracking of overall campaign objectives.

Throughout the duration of a campaign, advertisers require comprehensive campaign management tools to provide them with flexibility and control over their campaigns. Real-time, detailed reporting and analytics and advanced optimisation tools are crucial in providing actionable data and true visibility over exactly what’s working and what’s not and to make changes to improve performance as campaigns happen. Some networks, such as Adfonic, already offer these tools and reporting metrics as standard, but they need to become industry common practice to drive increased mobile ad spend.

Once the campaign has ended, end-to-end tracking tools are required to enable advertisers to analyse the performance of a campaign from initial ad impression through to end goal such as a completed registration or a completed form. In addition, campaign tracking needs to drill much deeper into customer activity post-click to determine actual customer acquisition costs. Advertisers need access to this data through a holistic viewpoint which links pre and post campaign events to provide an accurate picture of campaign performance.

And finally, the technology must be developed to allow advertisers to assess the long-term customer value generated by their mobile campaigns based on spend over a specified time period. They must be able to link high value customers back to source in order to calculate and prove their ROI.

With these metrics in place, mobile advertising will be an unstoppable force. Those of us responsible for developing mobile advertising technology and shaping the ecosystem all have a role to play in ensuring that this level of true transparency extends throughout the mobile space to ensure the evolution of mobile as the fastest growing advertising channel.

About the author

Paul Childs is Chief Marketing Officer at Adfonic. Paul is the marketing and product whiz. He thinks up new tools, experiences and the longer term strategic roadmap and direction. Paul also looks after the marketing, online and social media aspects of Adfonic. Prior to this, Paul worked in various senior marketing roles for mobile operators and online start-ups. Since 2005, Paul has become an expert in mobile search, mobile advertising and enabling web browsing on mobile devices.

About Adfonic

Adfonic is one of the fastest growing global mobile advertising marketplace serving ads across 190 countries through a 2,000 strong publisher base. Launched in July 2009 by three mobile industry veterans, Victor Malachard, Paul Childs and Wes Biggs, Adfonic is headquartered in London with operations in France and the USA. Adfonic enables advertisers to bid for display advertising space on mobile sites and applications and publishers to maximise the earning potential of their mobile traffic. To learn more, visit or blog at


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