The future of tablet advertising, as seen by Celtra GM Jonathan Milne

March 13, 2012

Celtra is perhaps best known for its Ad Creator tool, which allows developers to create HTML5 ads with integrated images, image galleries, and maps, but without them having to use any code. The firm now includes mobile ad analytics as part of this service, and on a wider spectrum is constantly talking with media ad buyers, creative agencies and standardization bodies.

TabTimes met with Jonathan Milne, Celtra’s general manager for Europe, and he enthused about the interactivity of HTML5 ads, but said that agencies and ad buyers still need to be educated on what they can do with these kinds of adverts.

What are the key differences between traditional broadcast and tablet/mobile advertising?

There are two schools of advertising. In broadcast, it’s about reaching as many users as possible with a message – you chuck a banner up there, and don’t care so much who sees the message. It’s just about volume and reach.

The other school of thought is about engagement, bringing the user into the conversation. Rich media should all be about engagement, and letting the user engage with content. With HTML5 you can do that, and our work with Starbucks is a really good example of that.

How much do creative agencies know about HTML 5 ads?

With some creative agencies, we show them the HTML5 ads, and they’re like ‘Wow – you can do still stuff with HTML5?’”. As agencies come to understand the capabilities of HTML 5, they won’t come to be constrained into thinking what they can do with adverts, and so they’ll be able to take advantage of the medium.

Education forms a big part of what we’re doing in the industry, and so we’re speaking with stakeholders, creative media agencies, big publishers and ad networks so they understand what can be done. We’re also doing a lot of seminars, and webinars, to get the message out there.”

How has the profile of HTML 5 ads for tablets and smartphones changed in the last 12 months?

Yes, last year was a time for experiment testing, but this year the agencies are now saying ‘let’s do more’. Through that process, agencies and brands now want to understand the ROI, so it’s not all about getting the creative out there. It’s about understanding what creative works, and that’s where analytics is vital, something we've implemented with AdCreator.

Yes, tell us more about Celtra’s AdCreator and how it incorporates this analysis so you can keep up with your mobile ads….

Agencies often go through different partners, so we now have consolidated analytics, so we can show how the ads fared, allowing brands can adjust their future ad spending accordingly.

They can really get inside what works, how much exposure they’re getting and check feedback. Mobile rich media is inherently track-able, and that’s vital. Only when the insight comes back, can the media buyer agency look to spend on things that are working well.

Talk us through advertising spending. What’s the difference between the spending for online and mobile?

There is a huge disparity between the mobile ad spending and the amount of time people are spending with the medium.  To that degree, things are massively out of whack. An awful lot of money is spent on print ads, but much less time spent with the ads themselves, whereas not much money is spent on mobile advertising, and an awful lot of time is spent with the medium. There’s definitely not enough money in mobile, so something has to give somewhere.

What could be done with more money? Would it just be more ads, and bigger and better features?

It’s a bit of both. Typically budgets are done on what you used last year, so the problem is shifting the money. Generally speaking, it’s about running more campaigns, which as you do more, you will become more efficient as the methods become tried and tested.

We’ve talked a lot of standards in the mobile advertising space recently. What’s your take on the challenges ahead?

Standards are one of the technology barriers to mobile advertising. Historically, the media agency wanted to run a rich media campaign through four different ad networks, who would employ their own creative. So there’s four set of creatives, four sets of costs, and it’s trickier to manage and sign off processes.

But with Celtra, you can have one creative run everywhere, and that helps the problem. Standards are also starting to arise to deal with that problem. One of the standards we know of was developed by ORMA but it was a fragmented standard and was taking on by the IAB nine months ago. They’re rebranded it as MRaid, and so that should make it easier for one rich media ad to travel more widely.

Let’s look at the differences between smartphone and tablet ads. I am guessing things are pretty slanted in favor of the smartphone at present…

Mobile advertising is definitely skewed towards smartphones, in terms of inventory. Generally speaking, slick tablet apps have smaller amounts of inventory than phone-based apps. There are fewer tablets out there, and fewer custom-developed apps, so that naturally skews it. But what we are seeing with a tablet campaign is people are prepared to invest more to put together a slick experience.

There’s been a lot of talk on tablets being used for ‘dual-screen’ TV viewing. How much of an opportunity is this for advertisers?

The tablet is ideally placed for the dual-screen experience. For TV advertisers, extending their ads to mobile devices for dual-screen viewing should be a no-brainer. It allows the viewer to be engaged. There’s nothing to click on in a TV ad, and the best ones you have to remember.

How does mobile advertising compare with TV advertising?

In broadcast, untargeted content has been put in front of users for years, but eventually they learn to ignore it, and it doesn’t interest them. If you put engaging, complimentary content in front of them, they’re far more likely to engage with that content.

Advertisers really should be showing relative content and products to customers, so we need to move from the broadcast world to one of engagement. That takes time however, and it needs the right infrastructure to be in place.

Are ‘mobile-first’ or ‘mobile-only’ indicative of trends you’re seeing in the industry at this time?

It depends on the audience, and the age demographic. If a relatively young tech savvy lot are doing something mobile first then that may be a smart move, but it depends on the proposition and if it’s a good fit for mobile. Apps like Foursquare are a no brainer to go mobile first, and the same now probably applies to Facebook.

Looking specifically at tablets, how does the iPad compare to Android tablets for advertisers?

I certainly see a lot more iPad-first in the tablet world, and I think everyone sees that. Android is far more fragmented, offers different functionality and screen sizes. The iPad is one size, has a concentrated big audience, and a great UI.

I think Android tablet advertising is somewhere in its infancy, whereas the iPad is more in its pre-teen years. Nothing is very mature – but I have no doubt that mobile advertising will be huge in years to come.

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