Publishers are leaving mobile money on the table

By Inbar Chap

As more and more tablets and smart phones flood the market, online traffic is moving to the mobile. Mobile browsing has increased 192% since 2010, accounting to close to 18% of all web traffic in some regions according to a study published by StatCounter last May.

However, while mobile screens present a great opportunity for publishers, agencies and advertisers, it is an opportunity that a surprising number of websites are still failing to capitalize on. Most content which comes from the online screen is simply squeezed onto the smaller mobile screen, without taking advantage of the rich visual and interactive capabilities mobile devices offer. That offers a bad customer experience, but it is even worse from a revenue perspective.

At DMG, we used our own ad network to look at the scale of the problem. Over a month and based on 40 billion online impressions served, we found that close to 8% of the display ads served weren’t able to be viewed correctly because the website requesting an ad wasn’t able to deliver content or ads formatted for mobile. This is bad news for advertisers that have missed reaching a relevant user, and bad news for the publisher who have useless inventory. The site visitor is also losing out, with a negative user experience that can reflect badly on the publisher’s and the advertiser’s brand.

To give a practical example, a common issue is when Flash ads are served on the iPhone. The image below shows that a grey square appears when Flash based advertising is served to an iPhone.

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In other situations, an ad could be served but formatted as if for a desktop browser. That’s definitely a poor experience as fonts and creative that works well on a larger screen may be virtually unintelligible on a mobile device. That’s also a bad situation since an ad may be served that has little chance of being effective.

So what is the hold up for publishers? Right when display advertising has become a commodity, mobile advertising is forcing publishers to rethink their strategies to take into account the overwhelming variety of devices, aspect ratios and operating systems on iOS, Android, and Windows tablets. New standards, developed by IDEAlliance and Ad-ID in conjunction with leading publishers and advertisers, could solve this problem, however it will take time for these standards to be published and widely adopted.

There are also limitations due to current methods and technologies. Strategy for design creativity and innovation outweighs the ability to deliver due to legacy systems and processes.

Then, on top of everything else, publishers are also faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to modify their sites to be mobile friendly, develop a customized application for mobile users or provide both options for mobile users.

Despite the obstacles, the majority of publishers have recognized the necessity to get on board, and have recently announced plans to launch mobile apps or sites. However, our own research shows that there is still a significant number of laggards who are leaving money on the table.

Mobile users are a critical target group not only because of their growing number, but also because they can be some of the most affluent and relevant customers. Publishers that have adapted to the times are get on board quickly will reap the rewards, and have a definite competitive advantage creating extra value for their brand.

About the author

Inbar Chap is Co-CEO of advertising network DMG.

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