Mobile Media Buyers are in the Technology Business

Voltari_AaronEpstein Mobile media has a clear tech basis. When buyers decide how and what to buy, to suit up and execute their mobile ad marketing, they are in fact making technology decisions every step of the way. So, the business of technology is a very real consideration for the mobile marketer, as the strength of any given vendor’s technology determines that vendor’s place on the plan and ultimately, the mobile marketer’s success or failure. It’s time to wise up on your options. As a mobile media buyer, your choices are of great consequence. The mobile media buyer is deciding on a service provider that has made and continues to make a technology investment, which should in turn demonstrate the best return on investment within your own marketing campaign. In other words, your providers’ investments tie directly to your own return on investment, should you choose them.  Your providers’ choices matter greatly as you make yours. It would be impossible to cover all possibilities of where and how technology is deployed, so I’ll focus on the most extreme uses of technology in the mobile media ecosystem and identify the relationship between technology and business of mobile media buying, so that we are all better armed to embrace and benefit from that relationship.

Direct Buying Option Media buying at the inventory source (or as close to the content sources as possible) forces the source to invest in technology to better understand and share information on their audience and how they might react to a marketing campaign.  In most cases, the inventory source is the publisher and the price paid for access to the audience is based on the technology used to best describe the audience for the media buyer.  Because the publisher is responsible for generating content, customer acquisition, as well as the technology to understand the audience—the price is the highest and the media buyer is the recipient of the most detailed view of the consumer.  The media buyers are spending to reach the audience, as described by the inventory provider’s technology, which they believe will yield the best return.

Indirect Buying Option Media buyers can opt to spend less on the actual inventory by purchasing from sources that are not directly connected to the publishers, using the exchanges or media buying aggregation services, as examples.  In this approach, more of the media spend is used to fund a vendor’s technology investment that identifies audiences that are the best fit for a specific campaign.  The business model that supports these investments is based on a lower access cost for consumers but adding a cost for the technology that will identify the consumer within the scope of the campaign.

Where is the best place for an agency or brand to spend on technology that would best benefit overall marketing goals?  Is it better to apply technology to solve for maximizing engagement for an advertisement or leverage technology to better understand who comprises a publisher (or group of publishers) audience, which could influence the development of the advertising?

The most important guidance that I try to give to our teams is that they should be explaining any technology only in the context of how it can impact our customers.  Our clients don’t benefit from understanding the bits and bytes of our predictive analytics works or how we collect and use data in our repository.  So, wherever we or you sit in the equation, we should all want to make sure to proactively answer the question of how the technology delivers superior results for a specific advertising tactic, campaign goal, or marketing objective.  When talking with publishers directly, it’s key to understand how they are using technology to be more accurate in providing audience descriptions.  I personally find I gravitate toward publishers that provide audience descriptions that can be directly tied to the campaigns I am acquiring media for so I can make fewer assumptions.  I recommend that all media buyers ask similar questions, because after all, they are the ones funding the investment.

There is no right answer or blanket statement that would provide the secret of how to get the best return on mobile media spending.  Marketing is just as much art as it is science.  Taking advantage of technology to identify the right audience to improve campaign performance or get a better understanding of the types of audiences are available should make the art of marketing seem like something we can master.

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. Look for his post the fourth Wednesday of every month. unnamed-3