Why Mobile Ad Targeting Can Potentially Be More Accurate Than Desktop

Mobile video advertising is growing at a rapid pace, of that there is no doubt.

Since mobile is where the viewers are now, ad agencies and brands alike are more interested in mobile video ads than ever, and are finally starting to put their money where their customers live. A recent report predicts that mobile video ad revenue in the U.S. will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 73 percent over the next five years, to reach $4.4 billion in 2018. That’s five times the growth rate of desktop/online ads, which are expected to grow at only 15 percent in the same period.

While we can point to several reasons for this surge of activity — such as the increase of mobile video usage among Millennials, or better-quality video being produced and distributed via mobile channels, or the creation of more sophisticated rich-media ads — one of the more interesting reasons I’ve heard from clients is that they say they’re getting more accurate data on mobile than online.

It’s all about targeting. Advertisers invest significant resources in both identifying their target market and creating the right ads to resonate within that group. So it’s understandable that they want the right targeting mechanism to reach their intended audience when buying placement for those ads.

Now, mobile is a much different environment than the Web. There are no or limited cookies to track, at scale, and Web cookies that advertisers do track don’t follow the user to the mobile environment. So we need to take a different tack. Specifically, tapping into the unique advertising identifiers the different mobile app platforms make available to developers and advertisers.

iOS uses Apple’s IDFA standard, and Android uses Google’s Advertising ID standard. Both are unique but anonymous identifiers that allow advertisers to track where their ads appear and how users engage with them. They also give users a degree of control over how much information is shared. Think of them as cookies for apps, but with far more value.

First, these IDs not only manage the process of serving and tracking ads within an app, but also the ability to track things like the number of times users launch an app or buy a subscription or other purchase from within the app, all tied to the original ad.

Second, there is additional information that advertisers can glean from a mobile device than from a laptop, most valuable being location. Serving an ad to the right person is one thing. Serving ad at to that person at the right time while in the right place is altogether more valuable.

Mobile devices are perhaps the most personal item one can own. For that reason, advertisers want to tap them for better targeting, and users want to protect their information as much as possible from advertisers and others looking to target them. So for that reason, this more accurate data farming must be conducted carefully, respectfully, and ethically.

The mobile data set we’re discussing is not personally identifiable data, but it is granular enough to developing profiles of the real people being targeted by advertisers. And that target profile is becoming far more valuable to brands and advertisers than anything they can collect online.

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