IAB Mobile Center’s Multi-Screen Manifesto for 2014

santa-claus-christmasIn a way, we at the IAB Mobile Center think of ourselves as giving the industry good things (guidelines, best practices, research, forums) to help it grow faster. While we’re not Santa, we are busy in our workshop putting together a list of goodies for the mobile industry in 2014. We thought it was appropriate to wrap up 2013 with a collaborative column to preview what the mobile media industry can look forward to next year.

One of our mantras in 2013 has been that mobile should be thought of as a consumer behavior, not as a device or technology. As we look ahead to 2014, we believe mobile’s impact can be thought of in terms of a new, cross-screen prime time.

For decades, “prime time” was the most sought-after advertising real estate in television. As mobile and more broadly cross-screen media become increasingly integrated into people’s lives, “prime time” shifts, and will come to represent a widely diverse array of ad opportunities across different moments in the day, and screens that a consumer is looking at.

As the marketing world evolves to take advantage of this shift in awareness and user behavior, we expect “helping develop effective cross-media strategies” to be one of our mantras in the coming year (and “cross-screen” will be an increasingly frequent industry buzzword).

However, you need to create the railroad before you put the trains on it. Some basic media infrastructure and even a definition for cross-screen marketing strategies need to be established for it to be more than a catchy phrase. This is where we’ll be focusing our efforts.


As ad creative will need increasingly to flow, like liquid, across devices with different screen sizes and interactive capabilities, we think 2014 may well be the year of responsive creative design, or more likely a mix of responsive, adaptive, and dynamic creative.

We expect a wealth of technical solutions to streamline ad delivery across screens, along with better and better tools for using HTML5 to create great ad experiences that can scale. Helping marketers understand these capabilities, and their impact (both technically and in terms of business decisions) is a place where the IAB has already started work, which will continue and accelerate next year. Of course at the same time as we establish the creative building blocks for cross-screen marketing, we also need to be able to measure how it’s working.


A second piece of the cross-screen puzzle is to better understand and verify audiences in mobile; we need to get mobile right as a prelude to extending that capability across screens. We also need to continue to unravel the thorny issues around attribution-determining how to allocate credit across media when a marketing message leads to a desired consumer action. Brands and agencies need easier, more standardized tools to measure the effectiveness and success of their campaigns across a wide variety of screens.

As a key enabler of many mobile metrics, we expect to see several different identifier solutions (cookie supplements or replacements) on the market in 2014. These may include device profiling, fingerprinting, and/or the hardware identifiers built into phone and tablet operating systems. On all these fronts, the industry needs a venue for discussing current capabilities, unmet needs, and ways to come together to solve the challenges of mobile and cross-screen measurement.


The third key question about this new, cross-screen prime time is, once we’ve got the rails in place, what runs on them? That is, what content will consumers be looking at across these many screens? The short answer to that is, of course, that the consumer is king. They are already accessing content and services when and where they want to, and we in the media are all always playing catch-up.

But more concretely, we believe video, social media, and of course commerce and shopping will be at the forefront of this transformative cross-screen reality. This is particularly true as video content itself becomes more interactive and more social.

If we truly were Santa, we’d also give all of you unlimited data access, no dead zones, and a shiny new wearable gadget to all our members and friends in the industry. Barring that, we look forward continuing to serve as a forum for growing mobile for everyone. Happy holidays.

Co-authored by Anna Bager, vice president and general manager, and Joe Laszlo, senior director, IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence.

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