Data Propels Mobile Revenue

This post originally appeared on NetNewsCheck.com

The headline of this recent eMarketer article packs a punch: “Facebook and Twitter Will Take 33% Share of US Digital Display Market by 2017”. Let’s take that a level deeper and unpack their share of mobile.

The top 10 winners of mobile ad spend will eat a 67.6% piece of that $14.68 billion dollar pie in 2015. The top three command a 51.7% share, breaking down with Facebook owning 33.5%, Google 10% and Twitter 8.1%.  Move that forecast out three years and their presence doesn’t falter.

If you’re doing the math, that leaves a tens of thousands of other media companies, app publishers and app developers competing for the remaining 34.4%, or $5 billion of mobile advertising revenue. That’s not chump change, but it’s a very crowded and competitive field.

Admittedly, juxtaposing the massive scale of these Internet giants to the local media landscape is unfair. Their size plays an important role in their ability to attract the most advertising revenue.  The lesson we can learn from them – what they do better than anyone else – is understanding their audience across all platforms.

As Tim Peterson writes in this January 2015 AdAge.com article, “There are two big reasons Facebook has been able to sell fewer ads at higher prices: mobile and data.”

Advertisers love these platforms because they have the data to know and reach their target audience on any channel. Facebook strategically sells less quantity and more quality because its audience understanding is channel-agnostic.

“Audience understanding” doesn’t refer to how audiences use an app, how frequently they engage, what content they consume or what stories they share.  Rather, it focuses on their demographics, real-world behaviors and interests.

If publishers are nervous that they can’t sell a gender-targeted ad on your mobile properties today, they’re not alone. At Reveal, we spent the last six months conducting over 100 customer research calls as we shifted our business model from mobile app development, the StepLeader brand, to a mobile audience platform. Only those with first party data had a chance of knowing basic demographics, but even then they lacked the ability to target against those attributes effectively or at scale.

Mobile audience will be a mandatory component of any sophisticated cross-channel strategy in order to remain competitive in your markets and relevant in the eyes of your advertisers. Not only will it assist in direct sales, but will weigh heavily into upcoming political ad spend in the short-term, and help lift long-term performance in programmatic advertising.

The first step towards better mobile data is an exercise in discipline. If you could only have one data point to measure, what would that be? All other data points are now just a function of improving that one key metric. If a data point doesn’t help improve that primary statistic, stop measuring it. Now expand that to three crucial data points that are the absolute most important for the growth of your business: one for your product stats, one for marketing stats and one for audience stats. The end goal is eliminate any focus on vanity metrics, or those that do nothing to drive the needed results for your key metrics.

With your key data points identified, one must find the right tools to first report on them and then make them actionable. While there is a plethora of product and marketing analytic companies to choose from, there are very few mobile audience tools available on the market today. A simple start to getting mobile audience data is enabling one’s Google Analytics account or other product analytics tool to reports basic demographics. Making that data actionable is a tough nut to crack, but one that we must start cracking now.

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