Jason Baptiste is the CMO and co-founder of Onswipe.
The 2014 Venturebeat Mobile Summit was awesome and a great meeting of the minds in mobile. I was fortunate enough to chair the ad formats session with MoPub cofounder Nafis Jamal and Vungle CEO Zain Jaffer.
Throughout the session, and the entire conference, I noticed one quite obvious fact — most of the industry is focused on monetizing through Cost Per Install (CPI) advertising.
There are many companies worth billions of dollars that are focused around the creation of media, distribution, tracking, and verification of CPI media. Even Twitter announced its long-awaited app install program, which is measured on a CPI basis.
At Onswipe, we’re focused on brand advertising, and it made me realize that there is a ton of opportunity in brand advertising in mobile as the market is wide open. The problem is, it’s a tough nut to crack.
A large number of individuals, even a senior leader from one of the world’s largest publishers confidentially asked, “How do we sell mobile brand advertising, our team just doesn’t know how to?” We’ve been focused on this problem for the past few years and I shared some lessons learned for any startup or publisher thinking about making mobile brand advertising a big strategic initiative:
Create proprietary, high-impact formats that are easy to implement
Brand advertising is akin to television and magazines. The creative needs to be high-impact and focus on telling a beautiful story to the reader.
Think of the “Just Do It”, “Got Milk”, and “Think Different” campaigns of the world. Work to create a high-impact unit that lets those type of stories live on a digital canvas. At Onswipe, we do this through our full page magazine like unit we call the “Glossy”. The key is making a high-impact unit something that can repeat and scale. We did this by focusing heavily on video for our full page unit. We combined it with the existing magazine creative or homepage takeover skin that they normally have.
Flashy, rich-media units will work from time to time, but you can’t build a repeatable and scalable technology business off of them.
Sell around a great user experience and environment
Brands care a lot about your site list if you work with many properties or just the standalone quality of your app. If you’re a startup, odds are that they don’t know you by name yet and it’s going to take a lot of trust on their part. Senior members and junior members of ad agencies love a great demo and user experience.
To build trust around your environment, show off that it’s a great user experience and environment to display a high-impact unit in. You want to be selling waterfront property on a beach, not in a parking lot. In a day and age where ad fraud runs rampant, this is very important.
Focus in on the brand metrics that matter for each campaign
Every brand is going to have different metrics. It might be brand recall, video views, or purchase tap throughs. You’re working on a brand campaign, but each brand campaign is going to have a set of loosely measured success metrics.
When putting together the proposal in response to the RFP, focus in on those metrics, while highlighting what you do well. Don’t go out of your comfort zone and what you know works well. In some cases, you may realize you’re not a fit for the brand’s objectives. That’s okay.
This is an industry built around trust and it’s better to pass, than to offer something that isn’t you. It’s unlikely to perform and will be a shortsighted win.
Get repeat buys that increase in order size
Once you have a campaign under your belt and you’ve performed on the metrics they set out, you should start to push for a repeat buy that increases in order size. You want to become “the mobile buy” they have to go with. Agencies like to play it safe more often than not. Turn yourself from a risky buy to a safe buy.
At this point, they’ll know your creative isn’t a hassle, it’s a great environment to be in, and that you can perform on the metrics they care about. Keep in mind though, that the metrics will change from campaign to campaign. Don’t take a repeat buy from a brand that you can’t deliver on – see my point above. You can lose the trust you’ve built much faster than you’ve built it in the first place!
Work to move your high-impact units into a programmatic channel
At this point, you’ve likely racked up a lot of repeat buys and have a consistent funnel going. Maybe you’ve also introduced some new units that are starting to get traction.
This is the point where you begin to worry about scaling up your efforts. The only way to do it seems to be to add more sales people, but that won’t work. As a technology company, you’re supposed to have the efficiency of software. To do this, you need to find a way to bring your high-impact units into the programmatic age. This will allow you to “make money while you sleep” and not have to scale revenue via human hands.
The problem is that this will take a lot of time and buy-in from the highest levels of the agency. It’s the holy grail – high-impact brand advertising with the efficiency of software.
CPI installs will continue to be a huge market, but I think brand advertising is going to be many multiples larger. Neal Mohan at Google thinks brand advertising is a 200 billion dollar opportunity and I agree.
Mobile devices are the television of this generation in terms of time spent and the traditional brand dollars, which near 200 billion, will start to shift online. Go get your piece of the pie.