Mojiva ad veteran: “The biggest publishers realize they have to start taking mobile seriously”

January 30, 2012

Gwozdz (pronounced gaavush) is an advertising veteran, having spent over 20 years in the industry. He founded Hot Link Media, one of the first online mobile ad networks, in the 1990s and subsequently became one of the founding members of the team behind DoubleClick, the mobile ad agency acquired by Google for $3 billion in early 2008.

His firm, Mojiva, has headquarters in New York and offices across the US, as well as one in London for the EMEA region. Mojiva is the company behind the Mojiva mobile advertising network and Mocean Mobile, a mobile ad serving platform. 

TabTimes: What’s the trend with mobile? Have advertisers been fast or slow to migrate to catering to smartphones and tablets?
Gwozdz: I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in the last eight months ago, where companies have gone from admitting that mobile was interesting to realizing that they are already behind. It’s exploded in the mobile space. The devices are better, the data plans are more efficient and connections faster.

The biggest publishers are now realizing that they have to take mobile seriously, and for that they have to organize their content in way that they can sell it.

What are the complexities around mobile adverts?
Screen, device size, the resolution, the capabilities of the phone or tablet, video support, geo-location and the amount of cookies all make for very messy and complicated environment.

It’s particularly complex when it comes to Android, because it has so many different flavors. It’s also tricky because several different media vendors now have their own way of rendering rich media adverts, like expanded adverts and click-to-video, through using either Crisp, iWonder, Celtra or Sprout. This means that publishers are left figuring out how they can get the technology to run across different devices.

What is the key to getting mobile advertising right?
Relevancy is the thing which gets people to engage with an advert. 'Where I am', 'where I was' and 'where might I go' are just some of the things that give a whole new spin on the relevance of an advert, specifically on smartphones and tablets.

Do you think that these ads can convince people to spend money in-app?
Well, we [Mojiva] studied consumer spending over the holiday and were astounded how many people are willing to spend up to $50 when in a mobile application. It’s because credit card entry is now simpler, and because the security is there.

People are comfortable doing transactional things with apps so the question is whether marketers can get people to engage with and ad and then click to buy. We’re starting to see that happen now.

Is mobile where innovation currently exists?
Magazine publishers, app developers and a lot of other traditional purveyors of content are now not necessarily building more web content – they’re asking if they should build apps first. There’s also a lot of brain activity going into whether that should be for native apps or for apps running HTML 5.

How are tablets changing the way these publishers are bringing content to mobile devices?
Tablets only occupy a small fraction of mobile devices at the moment but there’s so much power behind these things. Publishers and app developers have got to make sure they’ve got their content figured out because they don’t want new iPad users to get to their content and be disappointed, or to not to be able to do a transaction.

What’s your take on mobile-first as a strategy? Are publishers considering this when releasing new products?
There’s always been a group of mobile-only, but these people have usually been mobile infrastructure guys, like app developers.

We’re now finding that big brands who are experienced in TV, radio, digital advertising are just pouring in resources for smartphones and tablets, first to develop for the user experience, and then to spend time to promote the app.

We believe that we’re starting to see that next wave. It’s similar to in the 1990s when companies built their first websites, and then spent considerable time driving eyeballs.

What are the challenges ahead of advertising on smartphones and tablets?
I am slightly worried by the lack of persistent cookies, which although limited, are a pretty good tool for the marketer to understand preference of users. If you don’t have that, you have a big problem.

There’s a fundamental lack of these cookies in mobile, but there’s also the tricky issue of retaining users privacy, while making the experience that much more personal. It’s a big challenge.

How big an issue is standardization for mobile advertising?
It’s definitely a key issue. Different devices are gauged differently from creative agencies, and there are tons of different units being used, from measuring app environments, app stores and even the way apps get counted.

There was a similar issue in digital for some time, but then ad serving standards came and we got there. I think mobile ad standards will have to come eventually, and will make the industry more efficient.

Do you think mistakes have been made when it comes to making apps for smartphones and tablets?
There has been a massive rush to build apps, and develop a mobile strategy. Your average marketer has been getting clobbered over the head by someone who says ‘Why don’t we have an app?’.

A lot of things have not been well thought through [for developing mobile apps] and some apps are kind of like early websites, with developers not really knowing why they built them. Personally, I think a lot of people won’t want to continue with their own apps, as it’s too much upkeep, so we see a market for third-party apps in future. We have a little project upcoming to address that, but that’s all we can say at the moment.

What is the future of mobile ads?
There will definitely be much more rich media content as the cost of making and serving these ads will come down. There is still a drawback that you can’t find people to do integrations to accept your ad, resulting in them not rendering properly and tons of testing. But it’s getting better, because more sites are accepting rich media.

I think we’ll also see faster speeds and better devices. HTML5 will make using devices much better, and coupons based on your locations are also becoming a big part of mobile advertising.

Do you think that HTML5 is the way forward, rather than building apps natively?
We see a lot of app developers going straight to HTML5. Before, they picked Android, iPhone or maybe another OS like Bada, but it was a whole new build, an additional expense and another thing to babysit. HTML5 can alleviate some of their issues, so a lot of people are starting to bet on it.

What affect has mobile had on those who traditional advertise through print?
It's funny that the iPad, in a way, resurrected those almost dead print publishers. The iPad gave those publishers a new distribution model to monetize their content, and definitely saved a lot of publishers from going out of business.


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