Customer Data and the Meteoric Growth of Mobile Programmatic Buying


Tyler Loechner at MediaPost published an intriguing piece on the incredibly rapid growth of Mobile programmatic media spending. Given that Mobile media is often more expensive than media available on the pc web, it follows that maximizing your understanding of your customers and prospects is even more important for mobile programmatic than programmatic PC display. The great thing for advertisers is that mobile advertising IDs, which would be the primary way by which mobile events are associated with a person, are a more precise way of associating customer actions than third-party cookies. What’s not so great is that most advertisers don’t have any infrastructure in place with which to capture that mobile data and unite it into 360 customer profiles.

For months, many in the industry have been predicting this explosive growth in Mobile programmatic spend. Tyler’s piece also reminded us that eMarketer predicted that more than half of Mobile spend would fall in the programmatic bucket this year.

From Tyler’s piece:

eMarketer notes that programmatic’s story can’t be told without including mobile, which will account for nearly half (44.1%) of all U.S. programmatic display ad spending in 2014 ($4.44 billion). The research firm says programmatic spend in mobile will surpass desktop spend by 2015, accounting for 56.2% of all programmatic display spend next year.

Mobile media has a variety of characteristics that make it well suited for programmatic:

  1. Dominance of standard IAB sizes, especially small banners.
  2. Strong advertiser interest in reaching specific individuals and segments given the higher prices paid for this media and the more personal nature of the Mobile experience.
  3. Higher media sticker prices, which drive a quest for maximum efficiency
  4. Difficulty for human buyers to add significant value to many efficiency-oriented “DR” Mobile buys. 

That’s not to diminish the tremendous value a human buyer can add for a custom Mobile program – it’s simply a recognition that the forces driving the growth of programmatic media in general are as strong or stronger for programmatic Mobile.

The key to doing programmatic right – whether it’s for PC Display, PC Video, Mobile Display, Mobile Video or whatever else it is that you’re trying to buy, is having the right data to determine the fit between an individual and your ideal target audience so that you can choose bidding occasions and offer the right amount for each impression. Without a strong foundation of Mobile customer data, getting the best results in Mobile programmatic simply isn’t going to happen.

The Problem is Acute AND Chronic

It’s interesting – few marketers disagree that Mobile behavioral data is beneficial for developing a stronger understanding of each customer. And that there are significant benefits to having such a richer customer understanding. But many marketers also appear to think of the Mobile hole in their customer data strategy as more of a chronic long-term problem rather than an acute problem that needs to get solved right now. Which creates a barrier to making real progress on the Mobile data front because many of us have too many problems to solve today to address the longer term challenges like gaining comprehensive customer knowledge.

But look at it another way. If you are spending significant dollars in the Mobile programmatic arena, the Mobile hole in your customer data strategy is an acute problem – it’s harming your advertising results RIGHT NOW.

Understanding what your customers are doing in apps and across the Mobile web is essential for driving maximum ROI from Mobile programmatic. And if your Mobile programmatic ads are supporting a brand app, then addressing that acute challenge isn’t just timely and important – it’s critical!


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