Mobile advertising takes centre stage

As mobile usage continues to soar, and mobile advertising becomes a crucial component of many businesses’ marketing strategies, we look at new developments in this space, including the impact of programmatic advertising.

In recent years, programmatic advertising has become a bigger and bigger portion of a brand’s marketing spend and with digital out of home (DOOH) adding large format screens into the mix, a future where you can integrate video content across all platforms is just around the corner.

Go Media NZ Head of Digital Parris Downey says that while from a DOOH point-of-view, programmatic is still
fairly new in terms of widespread adoption from suppliers and clients, they have been trading in programmatic for a few years. 

“It’s been quite a process for all major DOOH owners to get their inventory into the programmatic mix,” he says. “Programmatic DOOH in its best and purest form is a seamless mix of Dynamic Media Optimisation – the where, when, why, how and to whom we are wanting to show messaging to – and Dynamic Creative Optimisation, filling in the ‘what’ by way of high creative relevancy and context.”

Go Media recently displayed a programmatic DOOH campaign with Dentsu for PlaceMakers via Hivestack on 30 large format billboards throughout the country. The campaign was fully automated and geo-targeted and intended to leverage data to drive targeted and contextually relevant creative. Billboards looked different in each location and would change depending on the weather throughout the day. 

The initial campaign was so successful it was extended from four weeks to all-year-round and generated more than 400,000 impressions within those first four weeks. For Parris, it proved what can be achieved when you fully harness DMO and DCO in a single strategy.

“I expect media agencies to make much greater use of the available targeting and delivery options, and creative agencies to embrace the DOOH canvas as something truly creatively functional and bring their client’s products, services and communications to life in new ways.”

Although programmatic advertising seems data driven, the creative still plays an important part in a winning formula, Parris says. 

“Data obviously plays a huge role, but at its core, it’s still the tried-and-true marketing utopia of getting in front of the right person, at the right time, in the right space, and with the right message.”

D3 Co-Founder Alex Radford agrees that the more the technology is evolving, the clearer it is becoming that the creative is the most important part of any programmatic buy. 

“There’s this idea within three single platforms [Meta, Google Ads and programmatic] you can target awareness and conversion without a lot of problems, but it all comes down to the creative,” Alex says. “You can be as smart as you want in targeting and programmatic data but if you put shit creative in front of people it doesn’t do anything.”

Mobile phones are increasingly becoming the dominant screen in a consumers’ life – particularly for Gen Z and Generation Alpha. Marketing folk are already looking at what the natural evolution of reaching these new consumers looks like. As with any new development, programmatic comes with seemingly limitless opportunities but also another suite of challenges. 

Alex says now that DOOH has been added into programmatic so successfully, connected TV is being looked at with excitement especially as it has the ability to be driven by real-time data. Younger people today are redefining what TV is, and a lot of the time it is cast from mobile.

“Connected TV is now being brought into programmatic and we’re getting close to a one-stop-shop for all video and display content,” he says. “While we’re a wee way off the technology for the measurements, we’re getting close to being able to upload various bits of creative and shoot that off to video, connected TV, or OOH. The future is clear in terms of being able to have a single interface that allows you to talk to segmented audiences and broadcast audiences.”

Programmatic has made the logistics of advertising and media buying easier and quicker to turnaround – the only constraint stopping agencies from putting ads on Times Square directly from their phones is cost. 

“That’s the power of programmatic. You can put billboards anywhere in the world or share a video ad on Youtube but you have to be creative about it and not have the mentality of ‘let’s just do an ad’.”

D3 recently worked with pet food company Ziwi on an Australian campaign to encourage people to buy the brand. The pet food is only available at a certain number of physical retailers, so the agency mapped out every stockist and worked with billboards that were between residential areas and the stores.  

“This was done out of Parnell using Google Maps,” Alex says. “We were able to look at Google store data to see when these retailers were busiest and make sure our ads were firing up at those times. 

“From there, we fed that data into the programmatic platforms and were able to see in real-time when those ads were appearing. Anecdotally, we know sales went up significantly.”

Wavemaker Managing Director Grant Anderson says the advertising industry in New Zealand has a lot to consider at the moment.

“We’re dealing with a new age when it comes to the death of the cookie and the need to utilise other data processes to reach the right consumer with the right message,” he says. “For planners, that could mean more of a reliance on first-party data and focus media dollars to work the hardest.”

While some clients are already well prepared to rely more heavily on first-party data, agencies like Wavemaker are working to make sure there’s a plan in place for their clients to make the most of their media and programmatic budgets going forward. Grant says that brands focused on awareness and consideration messaging will feel the loss of cookies less because they need scale and reach from their advertising – something that can be delivered without as much data to segment audiences.    

“For clients that are working to deliver these scales, there’s less of an impact in the change to a cookieless world,” Grant says. “In some instances, we can use existing data and mirror what we would have previously done with cookies.

“There has been an industry focus from a data-led standpoint to establish and create one-to-one connections with consumers. With the death of cookies, that is impacted, and it requires a customised message to target audiences. What we’re doing is establishing the best approach we can with the available data to eliminate gaps and wastage within marketing spends.”

At Wavemaker, all briefs are taken with a mobile-led mindset to ensure they reach the right audience, at the right moment – because of the overall increase in mobile-first digital behaviour. But Grant doesn’t believe desktop advertising is quite over yet. 

“It’s incredibly important to not forget the desktop, because there are times of the day that deliver a unique opportunity to target people. During the workday, there are times when a huge number of people are tied to their computers, and utilising those moments can be just as impactful as mobile.”

Acquire Technology and Innovation GM Zane Furtado says moving beyond mobile, augmented and virtual reality hold potential for programmatic advertising. 

The possibilities are limitless, although the potential ad space might not always be clear. Zane was recently exposed to advertising while looking around the stadium while playing a virtual reality cricket game.

“Two years ago, we understood the metric for advertising success in a new area like this as ‘viewable’, but now it is about attracting attention. We are using a lot of data points in mobile – including extrapolating eye tracking data to see how people engage on websites.

“Because there are so many data points with programmatic, you can understand who your audience is with lookalike modelling. Consumers use their mobile devices for everything.”

While Zane is unsure exactly what the future of programmatic looks like, he believes it’ll include buying across an even wider range of devices. Acquire has been testing buying ads on smart appliances including fridges.

“The cost of smart appliances is going down so the targeting ability is increasing and you can talk to consumers right there in their kitchen.”

Pure SEO Head of Programmatic Nadia Narayan says as programmatic advertising has become more mainstream, agencies have had to work harder to set themselves apart. 

“There are now a lot of agencies who offer programmatic and there are measurables that are industry standards and then there are stretch key performance indicator measurables that retailers should be pushing their
agencies for,” she says. “Programmatic often gets labelled as a set-and-forget tool, but it’s important to remember that there’s a lot of optimisation that needs to go into the backend. 

“There’s being able to measure and track things like site visitors and setting up floodlights to track peoples’ movement on a site. A lot of people don’t know the value of brand awareness and pushing agencies for improved metrics is going to qualify your audience further and you can market to your audience in different ways when they’re more engaged.”

The slow death of third-party cookies has been front of mind for Pure SEO as well, alongside the rise of programmatic advertising and other privacy changes introduced by both governments and technology companies themselves. 

Third-party cookies have already been blocked by default in Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox, meanwhile Google continues to extend the goalposts for blocking them on Chrome. It has recently announced plans to completely deprecate third-party cookies in the second half of 2024 – having previously announced 2022 and 2023 as the enddate.

Nadia says the team at Pure SEO have been working from multiple angles to make sure they can still deliver targeted, effective programmatic campaigns when cookies cease to exist. 

“Pure has a programmatic hyperlocal device partnership and we run an assisted platform with this partner to deliver ads based on mobile device movement, taking it away from reliance on Google data and algorithms it acts to ensure we have an audience without cookies and also answers a need for retailers.”

The future of data in marketing is first-party, and agencies such as Pure strip all personal data from individuals so they are not being targeted with their own data back to them – rather agencies’ build lookalike audiences based on the data. 

Artificial Intelligence is also set to have a major impact on programmatic spend and agencies have to prepare for that, Nadia says.

Pure SEO has been working with experts in AI and digital marketing to take a holistic approach to potential opportunities in the space. Founder Richard Conway says it’s a major focus of the agency and it’ll change everything. 

“We need to decide how we can give our customers best-in-class solutions with AI, without choosing the wrong one,” Richard says. “You can’t just jump on ChatGPT if everyone’s doing that. It’s our job as leaders in the field to help our client utilise the right technology in the
right manner.”

Jane Ormsby, founder of Scroll Media, has a different outlook on programmatic. She says there has been a return in their business to how it used to be: more contextual buying and less of a reliance on programmatic overall. 

“Two thirds of our business is direct IOs, because the cookie is crumbling and it’s a lot harder to target third-party,” Jane says. “Programmatic has been a race to the bottom on CPMs and publishers are now starting to demand higher yields for their industry.”

For Jane, the future of advertising spend is in tapping into the mobile gaming market. According to the McKinsey True Gen Report, 81 percent of Gen Z play games and 82 percent of that is on mobile. 

Jane says targeting gaming audiences is the next great frontier in the industry and the natural progression from mobile.

“Advertisers need to reach this audience and brands overseas are seeing really good uplifts by integrating advertising into games. As long as you make these ads gamified and they’re targeted to the users, they will get high engagement and click-through.

“New Zealand is behind in this space, the audience is there but the spend isn’t there yet.” 

This article was originally published in the June/July 2023 issue of NZ MarketingClick here to subscribe.

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