M26 Panel: Mobile Advertising in 2018

This is a bit late, but I didn’t get a change to finish it off before jetting off to the annual mobile circus that is MWC in Barcelona. Back in Feb I was asked to moderate the latest edition of the venerable Mobilisten-Talk series at the Telefonica Basecamp, here in Berlin. The series has been running for a long time, always helmed by founder Florian Treiss. Unfortunately, this week Florian was sick, so I got the chance to jump on stage and moderate. The panelists for this edition were Ben Jaeger, MD at Appsflyer EU, Mark Stohlmann, Senior Marketing Manager at Telefonica Next (Telefonica’s corporate start up), Mustapha Mussa, founder of bam! interactive, and Danny von Holt, who runs mobile marketing at Moebel.de, a big furniture search engine.

The plan for the panel was to dig into the key points of mobile advertising in 2017, and then discuss what big-ticket items should be on the radar of practitioners for 2018. My notes from the talk are below.

What should A level marketers have definitely gotten a handle on in 2017: 

  • Install Attribution: understanding where your quality users are coming from and how your paid marketing channels are working became non-optional in 2017. The tools are there, the knowledge is no longer hard to find. Of course, there are still challenges, but the panelists felt that attribution became commoditized in 2017, and that every serious marketer needs to have it locked down for 2018.
  • Ad Fraud: Related to the above, 2017 was the first year that multiple attribution providers started providing credible tools that track down most major advertising fraud types. Companies like Appsflyer and Kochava really pushed this issue, and marketers seem to be picking up on it – though not everyone agrees how much of a big deal it is (obviously, big $$$ problem, but there are obviously some industry players benefiting from it…) .
  • Audiences: Most marketers seem to have at least begun to experiment with audiences. Facebook has done a great job of making audience targeting popular with lookalike campaigns, but there are lots of other ways to do audience targeting. In 2017 Kochava released a very cool tool called The Collective, for example, which allows you to target users based on location, installed apps, etc.

What are the big items practitioners need to watch out for 2018:

  • GDPR: These new data privacy and security laws mean big changes for large parts of the industry, particularly for those companies collecting user data for ad targeting or segmenting purposes. All of the panelists mentioned GDPR, and the audience had questions as well. Most people were loath to give too much comment on it – it seems to be a topic best for lawyers!
  • Data is nice, Context is king: Most marketers are now in a position to reach target audiences pretty accurately. A great point that Danny made was that it’s not just about leveraging data to find the right audience – but also using it to find the right time, location etc. No point targeting your ideal customer in the wrong place, on a platform they can’t take your desired action on, is there?
  • New Channels, Apple Search Ads: This came up as one to watch for 2018, which surprised me a little, as many of our clients at Priori were already getting stuck into search ads last year – it’s obviously on the radar for 2018 again, though we’ve heard mixed things about the quality of the users it drives (probably because store search is heavily brand specific, and Apple is a bit funny about using other brands directly). It was only an example of a new channel though, and everyone seems to expect other new channels to open up this year. If you’re interested in this, check out Black Box, a search ads optimization platform.

Random Learnings for me:

  • Telcos are working on/ already built a competitor to Facebook/Google sign in, working with just a mobile phone number. Seems like a nice alternative, but haven’t heard of it much here in Germany yet.
  • Panels are fun, but hard to dig a lot of lasting value out of for the audience. Even though each of the panelists are at the top of their respective games, they were quite diverse, which made getting deep takeaways difficult. I think if I were to do something like this again, I’d love to see a couple changes:
    • A very specific topic, like “Designing a mobile ad” where panelist can discuss their process and the concrete steps they take, and why (for example, when we do x, we say y change). This would give the audience something to take to work the next day and try out.
    • Less diverse panelists. All the guys were super switched on, but too different.
    • More diverse panelists. It’s a shame in a city as multicultural as Berlin that we can only get 5 white dudes on the stage. Would be cool to see some of the amazing non-male, non-white techies on stage!

Wrapping it up:

All in all, it was a super fun evening, and it’s something I’d like to do again. Moderating is fun, and it’s something I want to get better at (getting over stage fright was on my list of New Year’s resolutions). So bring on round 2, i guess! Big thanks to Florian and the Mobilebranche team for having me, and to Telefonica Basecamp for hosting – it’s really cool that they’re contributing to knowledge sharing in the community like that!