Mobile advertising is big business but it seems that the only people really making money – I mean REALLY making money – are the ones running the ad networks. The reality of this industry is that we have done a huge disservice to mobile by trying to shoehorn the web version of display advertising onto the smaller, mobile screens. As advertisers drive up their expectations and consumers become less and less responsive, the rift that tension creates will sully the good name of mobile.
While I am not a fan of the current state of our mobile advertising industry, there are voices out there that are accelerating the innovation cycle. Who better to ask about the challenges, opportunities and threats to mobile advertising than the guy who’s company was pegged by Apple as the basis for their mobile ad product, iAds.
Lars Albright is the founder of Session M, a company he started a year ago after stepping out of Apple 2 years after his previous company, Quattro Wireless, was acquired. To say he has been doing this for a long time is an understatement.
What Lars is creating at Session M is based on what he sees as opportunity not being properly addressed. We are at the start of this transition from click throughs and page views to engagement and daily active users and, what we all hope, is an increase in effectiveness of mobile advertising. Are we there yet? Not even close. While Lars believes we are entering phase 2 of mobile advertising, it is hard to see it just yet but perhaps with guys like Lars evangelizing the need to move away from the traditional banner ad and “dumb” advertising, we may just get there sooner.
Sooner, in my opinion, can’t get here soon enough.
Here is a quick reference of what we covered in the show. Click on the link and the video will take you to that clip
1. What is Session M 2:00
2. What is the third phase of mobile advertising 3:25
3. What is the Session M engagement rate 5:20
4. Why did Apple buy Quattro (precursor to iAds) 6:50
5. Why did you accept the offer from Apple? 9:45
6. What happened to iAds? Why was it not as successful as anticipated 12:00
7. Why leave Apple and start Session M 15:40
8. Why are we not seeing a higher engagement rate with mobile advertising? 18:30
9. An example of a bad implementation of banner ads 22:00
10. Are we shifting from macro advertising to micro, hyper personal advertising? 24:00
11. How does Session M manage expectations with your customers 26:40
12. How do companies increase their success rate with your product 30:05
13. What impact do you have on app active users 35:00
14. How do you shift the mentality of page views into daily active users? 37:00
15. Specific techniques for succeeding in mobile ad engagement 39:00
16. Does rewarding users lead to false engagement? 42:30
17. What does the short-term future for mobile advertising look like? 44:25
18. How important is location to mobile advertising? 46:45
19. Can SoLoMo marketing actually work? 48:00
20. How do small businesses become effective with mobile advertising 50:00
My key takeaways
Competition is intense
I’m not talking about the sheer number of apps or the number of ad networks or even the number of competitive services and products in mobile. I’m talking about the competition for attention. We change screens – shift our attention – 27 times per hour so how can marketers be effective when the average human looks at over 325 screens per day? This is no small task and adds an incredibly complex third axis to an already near impossible equation.
We are entering the “post-click” phase of mobile advertising
This can’t happen fast enough. Moving away from “click” as a measurement is one of the most critical success factors for the marriage of mobile and advertising. Mobile is a much more dynamic and relevant environment than anything we’ve seen to date. We should be moving consumers beyond brand awareness and, where applicable, right to purchase.
Take a look at your business and think clearly about how you can skip from the click to the close. How can you use mobile and the interaction you are paying for to get someone’s attention and then get them to buy. If you aren’t moving product, you shouldn’t be spending money in mobile.
Page views are not a metric
Stop selling page views. Stop counting page views. What does a page view really tell you about your business? Nothing, really. How many page views does it take to close a sale? Right. How many page views does it take to build a relationship? Right. Start counting things that matter. Downloads? Nope. Try daily active users or monthly active users. These metrics tell a story that downloads and page views could never. If you want to know how engaged your audience is, measure the thing that matters – how many times they engage with your product every day or every month.
Don’t sell your product short. Don’t oversell your product by measuring the wrong metric. Be honest. Be metrics driven.
Test and measure – then do it again
You will often hear that mobile can be a petri dish for business ideas and this is very true. Testing is easy, measurement is finite and experimentation needs to be a part of your mobile strategy. Testing without a net is not recommended. Test with an outcome in mind and measure against that outcome. If it doesn’t meet your standards, adjust your expectations or the inputs and start again. The whole idea behind this is to move mobile and the revenue generated from mobile forward.
This is a dynamic, ever changing industry and so too should be your approach to it. Do not rest on success today, it is fleeting.
What do you think? Also, what do you think of the new format for the episodes? Do you like the chapters for quick reference? The takeaways? What else would you like to see. Leave a comment or two below or email me.
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About Lars Albright
Lars is a proven entrepreneur with extensive experience in the mobile and digital media industries. Prior to Co-Founding SessionM, Lars was at Apple, Inc., where he was a member of the executive team of iAd, Apple’s mobile advertising business unit. While at iAd, Lars worked on a variety of initiatives including running partnerships and alliances in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Before Apple, Lars was Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Business Development at Quattro Wireless, a leading mobile advertising platform that was acquired by Apple in 2009. Prior to Quattro, Lars was Vice President of Business Development at m-Qube, North America’s dominant mobile aggregator that was acquired by VeriSign in 2006. Lars started his career in investment banking and finance on the west coast, working for Montgomery Securities, and later for an affiliate fund of private equity firm Texas Pacific Group. Lars received an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and his AB with honors from Harvard University.