Member blog – Improve Digital – From phone to VR to smart TV: a holistic mobile ad ecosystem is the dream – here’s what ad tech is doing now to make it a reality

Remember the internet before web browsers? I didn’t think so.

Before the advent of Netscape as the first commercial web browser in 1995, the potential of the internet lay stagnating in technological silos. In his book, The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman describes the launch of Netscape in 1995 as one of ten levellers of globalization or “flatteners” that made the world what it is today.

Now, programmatic advertising for mobile finds itself in a similar situation to that of the pre-browser era. There are lots of screens, lots of ways to track users, lots of ways to deliver ads and none of them communicating together to deliver a holistic, customized user-targeted ad experience.

Or as the IAB puts it, “while the potential for mobile advertising is enormous, it is challenged by the lack of tools available to meet advertisers’ needs for targeting their desired audience and tracking the effectiveness of their spend…”

And yet, it’s an exciting time because we can see that potential – while advertising in VR might seem like a futuristic thought, it’s going to happen quicker than you think.

So what’s the solution? At the moment, there isn’t one and in the end it might not be a single “missing link” that creates the final holistic experience. Tech partners will need to work together to find the key that’s going to create the next Netscape. And to some extent we already are. Here are just two innovations being used right now to make technology flatter.

Tracking users: universal logins and device fingerprints.

We’ve all seen the rise of universal logins across the internet. This is when we’re given the option to login to a new online experience using an existing account, whether on Google, Facebook, Microsoft or Twitter. According to the IAB, “This type of tracking is limited to specific vendors, but enables companies with this type of universal login to gather data across applications and devices.”

Another effective way to track users is using device fingerprints. This type of software collects data points on any device in the online environment without the use of cookies. That means that this type of solution can be used to fully or partially identify individual users or devices even when cookies are turned off.

Deploying data to match the ad opportunity: Hadoop and Kafka frameworks.

With so many data points being collected from across devices, it’s important to be able to maximize the value of that data, and it’s open-source frameworks that help us do that. We use what’s called a Hadoop framework to store and aggregate the huge amounts of data ad tech can collect.  Kafka frameworks are used to move real-time data feeds, since, in our industry the timing and speed of processing and utilizing data is critical.

What does this mean for publishers and advertisers? There’s a lot we can do with what we have now.

With the tools we have now to track users and deploy data in real-time, a platform like ours can already evaluate tons of strategic data to serve up users a well-targeted experience in real-time. But we’re also pushing towards the next breakthrough. New platforms and new publishers will continue to innovate the communications industry and we must continue to innovate along with. Groups that help standardise technology requirements will help this innovation scale. Organisations such as IAB Europe have helped by simplifying the landscape of mobile ad formats across Europe and reducing the processes and costs related with planning and booking national and Europe-wide brand advertising campaigns with the Mobile Brand Builders ad format recommendation. This helps setup the market for continued growth by getting everyone on the same page. The world of mobile will continue to accelerate and grow. It’s exciting to get up every day and be able to work on new technology that will bring the industry one step closer to a holistic, customized user-targeted ad experience, a tech-flatter world.

I can’t wait to see what that world will look like.


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