Mobile Ad Networks No Longer MIA on ROI

Mobile Ad Networks No Longer MIA on ROI

For countless new entrants into mobile advertising, attempting to understand one’s ROI can be a confusing and frustrating exercise.

“The most significant issue for ad buyers,” reads a new report from MIT Technology Review, “is that they don’t know if the ads are working, like they do on desktop computers.” The report cites data from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which indicates that all media depend critically upon reliable metrics for audience reach.

“The mobile industry is getting to a point where marketers are looking past the initial click-through and diving deeper into user engagement,” observes Rimma Kats of Mobile Marketer.

According to Kats and other industry experts, analytics represent the key ingredients needed in a modern mobile advertising effort. “The more data and analytics marketers have at their disposal, the better,” she says.

eMarketer estimates that mobile ad spending will spike from $8.4 billion in 2012 to $37 billion in 2016. But in order for the marketing community, which is presently awash with optimistic predictions, to continue investing in the mobile channel, the return on this investment of time, treasure, and faith can no longer be as murky as in years past. And mobile ad networks know it.

“Especially with limited screen size, and much shorter time for placements, mobile advertisers have to be much more focused, more targeted,” advises Peter Wang, senior vice president of engineering at appssavvy. “This is where analytics comes in.”

As 2012 drew to a close, it was evident that today’s leading mobile ad networks were gearing up to wisely refresh and retool their analytics capabilities..

“The younger ad networks seem to really understand the importance of analytics,” says Brian Pennington, an independent marketing analyst and consultant to multiple Fortune 500 companies. He cites rapidly growing ad networks like Airpush, Millennial Media, and Tapjoy as innovative industry standouts facilitating effective new ways to boost mobile ad engagement across their vast ad networks.

“Tracking and targeting are challenges that mobile advertising networks face today, across all platforms,” says Chris Akhavan, SVP of Partnerships at Tapjoy. “Right now, even the most sophisticated ad networks have limited targeting capabilities compared to Web-based advertising networks. That said, both tracking and targeting are improving rapidly on mobile and will only get better.”

In February at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Airpush propelled its network’s analytics capabilities forward through a joint agreement with Apsalar, a prominent provider of mobile engagement management solutions.

“We’re excited to partner with Apsalar to offer cutting edge app analytics to our Android developers,” announced Asher Delug, CEO of Airpush. “With this partnership, Airpush becomes the first company to offer monetization, bug tracking, and in app analytics in a single Android SDK and associated web dashboard. Apsalar offers developers and marketers the insights they need to power their apps for free and these capabilities will help developers create even more capable, more powerful apps.”
Before ad networks and other solutions providers began stepping up their efforts to improve analytics capabilities, advertisers exploring their ROI were often left with far more questions than answers. But as the current trend suggests, boosting analytics has become one of the mobile ad industry’s highest priorities. Over time, more sophisticated analytics will results in more effective and meaningful mobile advertising.

“Analytics’ role in a product is analogous to the dashboard of a car,” Wang concludes. “Without it, we have awareness of how our product is doing – how fast are we growing, how are people using it, where do we fall short, what do people love the most, what can we improve on, what should be build next that is most impactful? While product development sits at the cross roads of art and science, without the scientific direction or affirmation of our ideas – the road to success, which is measured by how much value our product is creating for our users – is a long and treacherous one.”