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!

What’s hot in 2018 (and what’s still not…)

Everyone seems to be dropping their 2018 predictions, and with our work customers seeming to go into hibernation (or whatever the summertime equivalent of hibernation is) in mid-December, I had a bit of time on my hands at work, so I decided to join the party. 

For Consumers:

Consumers will spend more money in apps.

People are still getting used to paying for online services directly in-app. Games led the way for in-app monetization for years, and this year we saw apps really beginning to catch up in terms of in-app revenue generation for the first time, at least in T1 markets. I expect this trend to continue, both in terms of revenue reaching parity in new markets between apps and games, and (maybe finally) carrier billing integrations taking off to get new markets used to the idea of paying for online content.

2018 will be the year of mundane paperwork becoming digital.

Even Germany, land of never ending paperwork, is slowly being eaten by software. The last few months of 2017 have seen some great developments in the areas of digital finance managers for freelancers (Kontist, looking at you here) and (my personal bugbear) personal income taxes (Taxfix, you beauty). I see this trend continuing as the stone age bureaucracies slowly loosen their grip on their ballpoints and big rubber stamps and are dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age.

Smarthome will continue hypergrowth

The Smarthome market grew by +95% between Q2 2106 and Q2 2017 to $3.4b, led by US and followed by South Korea and Germany. Although Gateways seems to be the largest market segment, the global Smart Appliances Market grew +349% between Q2/2016 and Q2/2017 led by iRobot, LG and Samsung. With Amazon looking to be in every room of your house (see Echo Spot) in the near future, this is a market that’s growing fast and not looking to stop anytime soon. It remains to be seen if privacy concerns (still taken a little lightly in my book) pour water on the blaze, but as per usual, the masses will follow the hype. Bow down to your all-knowning, toilet-paper ordering overlords. 

>> Read full Smarthome report here.

Subscriptions are going to make more sense for more people

All good things come to those who wait, and developers have been waiting a while for this. Thanks (mostly) to Spotify, Netflix et al, consumers are being given great examples of the value of subscription based services. With Apple also making life easier for devs using subscription models (“Apple tax” halved in year 2 of subscription) and consumers more ready than ever, I feel sure that 2018 is going to see the general public getting on board with more subscription services.

For Developers & Mobile Companies

  1. The ASO hype will die down a bit.

It’s an important part of marketing – but so is building virality into products, building smart paid UA funnels (which are only getting smarter) and working out great partnerships to get your brand and products found. Once the initial optimization is done, ASO is (in most cases) just percentage points – which can make a difference, don’t get me wrong – but not likely to make a 10x difference to your business, the way a powerful targeted paid marketing strategy can.

 

  1. IP will continue to be strong in games.

The world isn’t getting simpler, and people love to be reminded of simpler times. Old school IP does that well, as well as TV IP, and I think we’ll see more plays from both leading studios and indies who can make a good case to IP owners (as Next Games did last year with Walking Dead, or as we saw with Super Mario Run). Will we see some of the Netflix/Marvel characters cropping up in video games, or will it be another old school 8-bit hero capturing our hearts in 2018? I’m not sure, but I think IP will be strong!

 

  1. New legislation will make and break companies.

GDPR is coming in the EU, and Net Neutrality seems like it might be on the verge of being in the past. It remains to be seen exactly how this will effect the mobile industry, but GDPR will definitely affect what data developers and service providers can collect (and sell for advertising purposes), and Net Neutrality might make it hard for disruptors to cut in on established players, particularly in the content area (I could see Spotify/Netflix et al making whatever deals they need to, to lock up bandwidth with the telcos and comms networks in their verticals and lock out competitors/emerging players).

 

  1. Blockchain technology will start to make a mark on advertising, if it can solve throughput problems. Lots of companies are dedicating serious resources to making this happen, and smart people are on it. Here at Priori, we’re proud to be one of the first companies to become a strategic partner to the onXCHNG initiative, but in general I’m excited by all of the projects going on, and believe that the potential for transparency they bring is an excellent step for the advertising industry.

 

  1. AR/VR – VR will continue to take more baby steps especially in the gaming and adult scene. AR will also continue to trend (helped along by Apple pushing ARkit), and become stronger this year as more apps try to follow the steps of well received first movers (i.e Wayfair recently following Ikea in adding AR to their shopping app). We think this makes real sense, especially in shopping apps where returns are difficult (furniture, real estate, some clothes, etc). However, even with Magic Leap finally getting their ass into gear and showing off an early version of their product (about time…), I don’t see consumer AR/VR making it mainstream in 2018.

This article was originally posted  in a slightly different form on the Priori Data blog and contains some contributions from my smart and exceptionally good looking colleagues.