Many publishers wrestle with how to monetise their ad inventory effectively.

It’s all not as easy as it sounds, as there are complexities and issues, but some relief is on the horizon.

First, the issues we all face are as follows:

  • Inventory: We have too much inventory and, as a consequence, the price is far too cheap and the expectation is such from advertisers.

  • Heritage and legacy issues: Generally, people (in my experience, particularly ad sales staff and agency planners and buyers), are still unfamiliar with the mobile channel and either don’t know the questions to ask or feel they should know the answers — so they don’t feel they can ask the questions.

  • Creative issues: Formats can be difficult to standardise. We make it difficult to work with us sometimes. In addition, a lack of creativity rules (thinking “beyond the banner” can prove challenging for many).

  • Clear and transparent measurability: Mobile can be hard to measure. There is a lack of common standards. So there are many interpretations of what’s ideal. Is it dwell times? What does “engagement” mean? Should we measure “attentiveness,” not just click-through rates?

  • Experience: Users don’t like “interrupted” experiences. We sometimes don’t make it easy and reduce the amount of clicks our readers have to undertake to get to the content.

  • Technology difficulties: There are many platforms to now consider when compiling our product suite for advertisers. That can make it very difficult to simplify. I have heard examples of advertisers having to produce up to 18 different creative executions to be able to fit all formats offered.

Madness!

However, there is some hope for the future: Use these points below for encouragement and perhaps to help you understand/navigate the mobile ad maze:

  1. Ensure there is parity on the analysis tools you use. Align yourself with others in the marketplace. Talk with your agencies and your peers as to what’s important.

    Some publishers, such as the FT, have come out of Apple’s Newsstand as non-native apps (built in HTML5, which allows for parity of analysis).

    It does require all publishers adopt the same approach to be consistent, but there is a general feeling from publishers and advertisers that a consistent approach is needed. Encouraging.

  2. Bundle your mobile tablet and print offerings to make them easy to buy, easy to understand. I recently completed a venture with the Telegraph Media Group in the UK. One initiative we put into place was a cross-platform rate card. At a glance, advertisers can see what they get on which platforms and for how much.

  3. You should help remove any barriers to entry (and consider offering to either help to make the creative of digital formats for your advertisers, or partner with a provider so you can offer the service in some form).

    The Telegraph does this and partners with a leading creative agency who can provide cost-effective, cross-platform ad solutions using existing assets. You can, too!

Overall, think about tone experience, think about creativity. I can assure you, if you talk about ideas and not the technology you can normally fit the ideas to the technology. It doesn’t have to be the other way around.

Try to educate your agencies and advertisers about the space. There is a need for it, trust me. And they’ll (secretly or not) welcome your approach and leadership.

Good luck! Please do contact me for any further thoughts or illumination on the points above.