Posts Tagged ‘mobile advertising’

Zero Look and the upcoming tectonic shift in ad tech

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

We are at the beginning of a tectonic shift in the ad tech ecosystem. For much of the last decade ad tech companies have been fighting for “First Look”. This is about to change.

When a user launches an app their presence creates an impression, and typically launches an ad request. These days most ad requests end up in an auction environment, where thousands of advertisers can see this impression and bid on the ability to show an ad to the user.

“First Look” refers to the chance to see an ad impressions before anyone else. Conventional wisdom holds that First Look impressions are more valuable than impressions that have been grazed over by multiple buyers/advertisers. The value is made up of a timing efficiency and the fact that the first buyer can snatch up valuable users before other advertisers even have a chance to show an ad.

Over the years, ad tech vendors have deployed multiple strategies to see impressions before the competition. Static mediation chain adjustments, guarantees, private auctions, private deals, and now header bidding.

I believe that tomorrow’s confrontation is not going to be about “First Look”, but rather about what happens before the first ad request. Perhaps we can call this the “zero look challenge”. Publishers will make critical inventory decisions before initiating ad requests all together.

As machine learning becomes more prevalent, publishers will be able to recognize their incoming users, create micro audience segments, and dynamically adjust the content and experience just for them. The result is active and intelligent user lifecycle management.

Publishers will be able to create bespoke experiences that are specifically tailored to particular users. They might change the design, manage game actions, adjust the content, add levels, and even manipulate pricing. At its core, it will also include making the decision between the various monetization options: In-App-Purchase events, advertisements, and subscriptions.

Making these real-time decisions will bring publishers closer to the ultimate goal of holistic lifetime value management, and probably represents the next frontier for supply side platforms.


PS:  Here are a few startups trying to tackle broad zero look challenges. Some approach it from a dynamic pricing perspective, and others focus on the fundamental building blocks of CRM and audience segmentation. mParticle, Wappier, Gamesparks,, Clevertap,, DeltaDNA, Game of Whales & Scientific Revenue

Google will dominate self-service advertising for mobile text and display ads

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Google’s announcement of the AdMob acquisition was a spectacular day for the mobile marketing industry. Having been in mobile marketing for almost 10 years, I think a $750 million acquisition clearly answers the questions: “When will mobile marketing take off?”

It’s been a while since we have seen a meaningful acquisition in mobile. EA’s purchase of Jamdat, and Verisign’s acquisition of M-Qube were really the last two game changing moments in mobile.

Google’s move underlines the importance of mobile in their long term strategy. They own search, they own maps, and now they own mobile display. Many folks in the industry also have high hopes on the next generation of Android devices. If Android takes off, Google would own the entire mobile value chain in certain instances.

This begs the question: “What are the entrepreneurial opportunities in mobile marketing?”

I see three fields that have not been fully solved:


Yes: Google has maps and folks like Yelp have the local content, but who will bring thousands of small local advertisers to the table. Nokia’s Navteq unit might be one of the contenders, or perhaps a hard-core customer acquisition company with feet on the street. Either way, if someone figures out how to bring thousands of location specific advertisers to the table, it will increase the revenue pie.

Premium Advertising

Google was already paying decent prices to their (handful of) mobile publishers. Now with Admob’s advertisers on board, they will likely dominate remnant mobile text and mobile display. However, premium, targeted mobile ads are just starting to take off. Players like Quattro Wireless are well positioned to monetize premium inventory. The challenge is that premium advertising is very hands on. Can specialized mobile players excel in an industry dominated by large advertising agencies? TBD


Over the next few months we will see a surge of new mobile ad-networks coming online. Players like Mojiva will enable hundreds of entrepreneurs (if-Admob-can-do-it-so-can-I-players), and advertising executives to start their own niche ad-network. This means that publisher will be overwhelmed. Who should they work with, who will monetize their inventory… Mediation layers (mobile ad optimization companies) enable publishers to work with multiple networks at the same time. In essence they help to route the traffic to the most appropriate monetization source. Smaato, AdMarvel, and Nexage are the three most prominent players in this segment.

Let me know what you think the next big mobile marketing opportunities are.