We are in the post-PC era, and soon billions of consumers will be carrying around Internet-connected mobile devices for up to 16 hours a day. Mobile audiences have exploded as a result.
Mobile advertising should be a bonanza, similar to online advertising a decade ago. However, it has been a bit slow off the ground, and its growth trajectory is not clear cut.
In a recent report from BI Intelligence on the mobile advertising ecosystem, we explain the complexities and fractures, and examine the central and dynamic roles played by mobile ad networks, demand side platforms, mobile ad exchanges, real-time bidding, agencies, brands, and new companies hoping to upend the traditional banner ad.
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Here’s an overview of some major players in the mobile advertising ecosystem:
Mobile ad networks: Mobile ad networks aggregate advertising inventory and match it with advertisers, much as online ad networks do. Networks soak up ad inventory, analyze its potential, and sell it by matching it to advertisers’ needs. Where networks differentiate is in value-added services, such as aggregating buying power to strike better deals, or improve targeting. The largest ad networks have their own sales forces reaching out to advertisers, as well as their own campaign optimization technology.
Demand side platforms (DSPs): These function similarly to ad networks, in the sense that they help match advertisers with inventory, but tend to work hand-in-glove with brands. DSPs are complementary to the ad network business because they more richly describe mobile audiences. But once DSPs start hiring their own staff to sell ad inventory, the complementarity could end, and DSPs would compete more head-on with ad networks.
Mobile ad exchanges: Exchanges automate many parts of the mobile ad process, and can connect publishers with multiple ad networks. Ad exchanges are primarily supply-facing at the moment, and have relatively few interactions with mobile ad agencies (even less so with brands). Agencies are disincentivized from using exchanges because they threaten their lucrative role as the brands’ media buyers.
Mobile Ad Agencies and Mobile Marketing: One of the gripes you often hear around the mobile ad industry is that agencies don’t get it. According to the U.K.’s Association of Online Publishers, 55 percent of publishers blamed “agencies’ attitude” for low mobile ad revenues. That may be changing. Several people we talked to said agencies are doubling down on mobile, and competency is improving.
Natives: Other companies are emerging that don’t neatly fit the established categories. They resemble ad networks in that they connect advertisers with publishers’ inventory, but they express disdain for the traditional mobile advertising model. These companies are trying to find a native approach to mobile advertising that will break through consumers’ apparent disdain for mobile ads. We call them “the natives.”
In full, the report: