The future of big data monetization, cross-device tracking, mobile, and new media alliances.
The future of big data monetization, cross-device tracking, mobile, and new media alliances.

Members of the closing panel at INMA’s Big Data for Media conference at Google London on Friday discussed how publishers (especially news media companies) can attract mobile advertising revenue through the understanding and application of Big Data and analytics about their audiences.

In a wide-ranging discussion, panelists Chris Babayode, managing director, EMEA, Mobile Marketing Association; James Collier, managing director, EMEA, AdTruth; Ben Crain, chief strategy officer, Improve Digital; Frederic Joseph, CEO, Performics, and Zenith Optimedia Global Mobile Lead; Aly Nurmohamed, vice president, Global Publisher Strategy and RTB EMEA, Criteo; and Paul O’Grady, senior communications planning manager, Unilever, UK, gave insights into the barriers to monetisation in mobile and the need for publishers to take control of their data.

For Joseph, the priority is the need for more efficient “cross-channel, cross-device tracking.” He also highlighted the need for better creative content designed for mobile devices.

O’Grady, an advertising planner, agreed. He said mobile devices were not the best platforms for advertisers because they are too small. “We want our products to look great in a great space, but mobile doesn't allow that. There is a lot to be done in that area,” he said.

Nurmohamed noted that 30% of sales from his company’s advertisers are from mobile devices, with 40% in the United Kingdom, “so something is being done right,” he said. However, his own company’s advertisements receive far fewer click-throughs on mobile devices than on desktop. “So we see that some ads work on mobile and some do not. We have to make sure we solve that ad format problem.”

Joseph said there was a danger of seeing mobile as a single device. “It is actually more than that,” he said. “When you start thinking of those people who rush to the office on a Monday morning and snack content on their mobile, it’s a different device from the one someone might use on a Saturday afternoon to buy something with. Mobile users use their devices very differently.”

The panel agreed that publishers need to take control of their data if they hope to leverage it. “Data is a currency. It is an asset and as with any asset, you need to protect it,” said Collier. “Publishers need to take to control by developing data management assets now,” he said. “They must link, control, and understand what the consumers are doing.”

Nurmohamed said there was a danger that the industry was focusing too much on devices and not on the people who use them. “Looking at people is the most important thing,” he said. “One person might use three devices. Recognising that is the only way we can move forward.”

O’Grady agreed. “From an advertiser’s point of view, consumers are using lots of different devices,” he said. “Mobile devices are useful because they allow us to get them out of their homes and to the point of sale, but at the moment there are too many disconnects to manage that process properly.”

Crain said the big technology companies had seized the initiative from publishers. “Who is winning now on mobile? The data-premised businesses such as Amazon, Google, Apple,” he noted. “Publishers must start to think in the same way as these companies. There is an opportunity for publishers to be more like Amazon themselves.”

The panel discussed a recent new initiative in which the Financial Times, the Guardian, CNN, and Reuters have collaborated to form the Pangaea Alliance, a digital advertising proposition that will allow brands to collectively access a highly influential global audience via the latest programmatic technology.

Collier said that, although it was too early to know if the alliance would be successful, it made sense to be able to compete in the marketplace. “I think you will see more of these alliances. I think a lot of these businesses will come together to compete,” he said.

“As long as they share data, alliances like this can make a real difference,” Nurmohamed agreed.