Advertising Technology

Velti’s Krishna Subramanian on The State of Mobile Advertising

Krishna_Subramanian_Headshot_260Krishna Subramanian is Chief Marketing Officer at Velti, a leading global provider of mobile advertising technology and marketing solutions for brands, agencies and publishers. The Makegood recently spoke with Krishna about tablet advertising, trends in app usage and app advertising.

The Makegood: Krishna, besides Burrp! And Mobclix, you co-founded Blue Lithium, the world’s largest behavioral targeted ad network, which was acquired by Yahoo! in 2007. What inspires you to innovate new categories like the Mobclix real-time bidding mobile ad exchange and how does it work?  

All of the companies I founded have addressed white spaces in new markets, with the goal of figuring out ways to add more value.  After Blue Lithium, I had a good understanding of how Behavioral Targeting worked on desktop.  Rather than looking at ways to innovate in the online space, I took my learnings and applied it to a new emerging market, mobile. With the launch of the app store in 2008, it became apparent to me that the mobile ecosystem was going to explode and change the way the world consumes content. Developers would be looking for ways to make money from their applications and advertising was one way to do this. But in order for advertising to be successful on mobile, developers needed to demonstrate that their users had value. So, we focused at first on application analytics. From the audience data we collected, we gave developers insight, such as what devices their users came from and how to increase virality around an app. We then made the move from an analytics only platform to be a supply-side platform, focusing on monetizing applications through in-app ads for developers.

Today, Mobclix is the largest Real-Time Bidding mobile ad exchange with over 65 demand sources and 44,000 developers.  It works similarly to holding a mini eBay auction for each ad request. Developers put our SDK into their app and through our analytics and their user data, a data profile is created—we hold an auction with this data for the ad request (who’s interested, and how much are you willing to pay)—ad networks respond back and the winning ad network gets to serve an ad to that specific request.

The Makegood: With the increase number of tablet users, a tremendous opportunity lies within tablet advertising. Can you describe how consumer behavior on tablets differs from the behavior on PCs and mobile, and how marketers and advertisers should be targeting consumers on tablets?

Tablet advertising is really exciting right now. The iPad makes up 97% of impressions delivered to the consumer on tablet devices and conversions on tablets are much higher than any other device. When a consumer is on a tablet, they’re leaning in and engaged.

There’s been a lot of discussion around whether the tablet is a mobile device and vice versa. A tablet goes mobile but it’s not a mobile phone—it has unique benefits and attributes, screen size being one. The biggest mistake that marketers make is not looking at tablets and mobile as individual platforms. You should not run a campaign that’s specifically for mobile on a tablet. You should, however, think about how you can incorporate these devices into a campaign that capitalizes on the best attributes of each and works together.

To this point, Velti just launched Velti Media, a new mobile ad network with a universal targeting and data analytics platform for measuring campaign performance in real-time across all devices.  Using Velti Media, advertisers can reach consumers on any device through our Multi-Channel Targeting (MCT) technology. MCT allows brands to target consumers with relevant advertising and marketing messages on smartphones, tablets and PCs, so they can identify and reach the same consumers across any device or platform.

The Makegood: In February, Velti released the report on ‘The State of Mobile Advertising’. What are the trends in app usage and app advertising? 

We saw some interesting trends in terms of app usage. For example, usage of photography apps are continuing to grow and are beating out social media apps as the third most popular app category, behind games and entertainment. For February, app usage peaked on the weekends, a reversal to January of 2013 when app usage peaked mid-week.

In terms of advertising in apps, we’re seeing a huge interest in location data and geo-targeted advertising and figuring out ways to leverage location data and add more context around it, for example knowing the precise location of a user and identifying how to serve them advertising based on device, location, habit and time. Also, in-app video is probably the most prevalent form of rich advertising—it doesn’t take a lot of time to transcode a video and it’s working really well, better than banner/static ads.  Google utilizes video ads well on YouTube and their notion and use of TrueView really benefits advertisers—they only charge an advertiser when a viewer has watched an ad, not when an impression is being served and they give the user the ability to choose what ads they want to see. This creates a lifetime relationship with a customer and increases engagement. Finally, I also think that Samsung’s Galaxy 4 will also change how advertisers think about the Android platform.  Advertisers continue to spend more dollars on iOS than Android even though Android is currently the world’s largest smartphone platform, with 70% share (according to Gartner). It’s not all about reach – its about the visibility and the buzz. Perhaps the Galaxy 4 will be the buzz Android needs.

The Makegood: At BlueLithium, you pioneered key elements of behavioral targeting like retargeting, predictive targeting, and SIP.  Can you elaborate on the device adoption by consumers and what technologies consumers are most receptive to?

In terms of adoption in advertising, iOS devices are way ahead of the Android operating system.  Around 19 percent of impressions served in February 2013 were on the iPhone 4, followed by the 4S with 18.7 percent. Asia and Europe also see the highest percentage of impressions from iOS devices, specifically the iPhone. The Samsung Galaxy was the top Android device on our list and the impressions they serve are behind the iPod Touch at 7.55 percent.  However, despite the high-amount of traffic on iOS, the Android platform performs higher in CTR, at roughly 1.5 percent.

The Makegood: Krishna, what will we see coming from advertisers, reacting to the changing screen size and media usage behavior?

You’ll start to see advertisers leverage standards to create campaigns across all screen sizes—focusing on MRAID (by the MMA) as well as HTML 5— rather than going to one rich media vendor. You’ll also see advertisers creating a data profile from a consumer across different devices so that they can leverage this data to stay connected and message to them intelligently based on the path they’ve gone through.

The Makegood: Thanks, Krishna.