3 Tips to Reach the Right Audience with Mobile Programmatic

Desktop programmatic strategies do not work on mobile

When used correctly, programmatic advertising builds brands. However, what is not widely understood is that most programmatic technologies and tactics were designed for PCs and laptops, and they do not work on mobile.

If you’re among the 500 million iPhone users then there is a high probability that you use Safari, the default browser, to access websites. And most of you will also be in the habit of accessing articles from publishers like Daily Mail and New York Times within Facebook. Or, due to privacy concerns, you might be among the growing number of consumers that are in the habit of using private browsing. Or, perhaps you consume content within apps. If your behaviour matches anything just described, then you can’t be targeted or tracked with the common desktop programmatic tactic of third party cookie-based user identification. But this doesn’t mean you see less ads, it just means that the ads you see are less relevant; therefore more intrusive to consumers and less valuable to advertisers.

Device IDs are often touted as the mobile solution to this challenge, but they are not compatible with mobile websites, which are an important source of professional editorial content and effective brand advertising contexts. Highly misleading industry reports suggest mobile websites account for as little as 10% of consumer’s time should be taken with a large pinch of salt.

The fragmented nature of mobile therefore poses unique challenges to an advertiser in reaching their desired audience at scale.


Rethink for mobile or lose customers

If you think about 2017’s biggest news items, such as the French and UK elections and anything to do with Donald Trump, mobile played a pivotal role in how people discovered, shared and commented on these events. Mobile is the number one device for media consumption and a vital channel for advertisers to reach audiences. So when they rely on re-purposed desktop technology and strategies that don’t work on mobile, advertisers will work very hard only to reach a very small portion of their preferred target audience.

The implications can be illustrated with beverage brand ‘A’. Market research has indicated that this drink does not appeal to over 35 year olds, so they want to ensure their advertising is targeted only to ‘16-34 Adults’. When the brand matches mobile advertising inventory available in their DSP (buying platform) with ‘16-34 Adult’ cookies from their DMP (audience data platform), they can only match 10% of the cookies and can therefore only show ads to 10% of their target audience. It’s the equivalent of this brand showing ads only to people that drink with their left hand, who get bombarded with ads, while right-handed drinkers remain blissfully unaware of the brand. Which is ridiculous when you think about it, and represents an area of major concern for the advertiser.

Faced with this challenge, many advertisers are giving up on mobile programmatic and moving their money back into the easy, but ever diminishing, world of desktop. There is another, better, way. The whole programmatic targeting process needs to be approached from a mobile first perspective.


Go beyond the cookie to reach relevant consumers at scale

What mobile lacks in cookie data, it more than makes up for in other forms of rich behavioural data that tell us a lot about consumers and their interests.

Let’s take it back to the beverage brand. If the advertiser starts with the 16-34 year old mobile users who can be identified by the third party cookie data, they are able to probabilistically match them to other mobile users that can’t be identified by cookies but probably have the same interests. This is achieved via multiple mobile-specific data points, including ad engagement behavior, browsing behavior, location behavior, device and Wi-Fi identifiers, and survey data. The brand could also use a similar technique to unearth new and previously unknown audiences by starting with no cookie targeting and probabilistically matching only those mobile users that are engaging most with the ad creative.

The key to this type of targeting is machine-learning technology, or ‘artificial intelligence’, which is something we have been working with at Widespace for years. This technology allows you to solve the cookie challenge in mobile and reach up to 8x more relevant consumers, including previously untapped iPhone users.

In other words, you can at last reach those right-handed drinkers!


By Ben Thomas, KAM and Programmatic Specialist, Widespace UK