Truly Available

Aaron Epstein is the Vice President, Business Development at Voltari, a company that develops predictive analytical solutions for the mobile space. Voltari optimizes mobile advertising campaigns from the start, learns and improves automatically in real-time, and provides insights. Aaron oversees the introduction of new products to the marketplace — managing key relationships for the company, related to product development and new lines of business. This is his first contribution to The Makegood. Look for his post the fourth Wednesday of every month.

Mobile advertising will need to understand and factor availability to improve quality responses

When is the right time for a brand to approach a consumer?  Most common scenarios are in response to specific events, including watching a specific TV show or viewing specific content on a web page.  In these situations, availability doesn’t play a role.  If the audience member is watching a specific program, we can assume this person is in position to view advertising creative or be exposed to an offer that is beneficial for the advertiser to show.  Display, as a media channel for advertising, follows suit; the audience is in position to see a creative, and they are available to react accordingly.  In both cases, it is assumed the user has all the necessary tools at his or her fingertips to react and respond.

Mobile is completely different and the determination of availability is very personal and influenced by a variety of factors, including location, media type, work schedule, eating habits, and potentially even the weather!  Assuming all things are equal, a young man on his phone might be more accessible to brands on rainy days than sunny days while near the ocean because he personally might be less distracted.  As mobile continues to fulfill the promise of one-to-one, real-time marketing, understanding individual availability will be paramount to the success of all advertising.

Getting mobile availability right, especially in campaigns that are measuring attribution, is likely to be more important than any traditional targeting logic currently being used.  Knowing that a user is in the right location, in the right age group, and is interested in video games doesn’t matter, if you are asking him to fill out a multi-selection form while having dinner in a favorite restaurant and just glancing at the phone for quick sports score or weather update.  Marketers might need unique, multiple creative options, as we learn about individual availability.  By offering only a creative that contains audio, a marketer is limited to a users availability to consume the message when having access to headphones or in an appropriate place.  Having an alternative creative and offer, which can optimize the interaction with that perfect consumer, should be essential to the planning process.  In this case, actual availability is influenced by media type, conversion objective, and Points of Interest (POI) based location information.

Because so many factors can influence availability, traditional filtering logic might not be sufficient and might result in limited numbers of consumers to evaluate.  Media buying logic should consider multiple, independent consumer attributes that can help define availability in the context of the offer and conversion objective.  Filtering logic could limit the amount of available users to consider for each campaign when evaluating so many different variables that might influence availability, and result in having to pay higher prices to capture the right audience or make unnecessary compromises in accuracy.  The already lower volume of potential inventory becomes even smaller because we are no longer considering un-available mobile users.  If your objective is for a user to enter credit card information for a purchase, you would want to eliminate all users that are not in position to complete that transaction before deciding to present that offer.  This approach places a premium on availability for conversion.

So, companies will continue to deploy new and innovative techniques that take advantage of mobility, within engagement strategies.  But, only in specifically considering availability in mobile marketing will we see marked improvements in consumer acceptance. And consumer acceptance is key. When this takes hold, the industry will shift its mobile media buying behaviors to consider availability when evaluating the value of a mobile audience.