OPS Mobile Live Blog – NYC, December 7th

Follow #OPSMobile in Real Time!


The AdMonsters US Content Team, Gavin Dunaway and Maria Tucker, are excited to bring you this live blog from AdMonsters OPS Mobile at NYC’s Metropolitan Pavilion. Stay tuned to see what’s rocking the mobile ad world!



8:30 – Sipping a piping hot cup of coffee, nibbling on a croisant and watching OPS Mobile attendees and speakers roll in. Looks like I’m not the only one just waking up and on this drizzly NYC morning – a bit of the ol’ joe will do this room a lot of good. Checking in to Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter, all at the same time, thanks to my Sonar app. Follow conference happenings at #opsmobile.


8:50 – Ran into Chris Hanburger of aiMatch – check out his recent column on assembling an RFP for ad serving.


9:15 – The crowd rolls in, the show is about to start!


Opening Remarks: Rob Beeler and Bowen Dwelle


9:18 – Beeler marches on stage to the sound of a sonar ping; compares the evolution of the mobile space to the development of radar (and little cousin sonar) in becoming the backbone of travel.


9:20 – how do we use an opportunity while things are so new to redefine ops? Instead of the web changing mobile, perhaps mobile should change the web.


9:21 – Dwelle talks about connecting – he’s been thinking about how easy it is to connect with people that you know, harder to connect with the people that you don’t know but should know.


9:22 – Dwelle describes our partnership with Sonar, describes how easy it is to check into the vent via the iPhone app and then tweet about it. At the end of the day, we’ll be looking for the most “connected person,” who will get a prize (dinner on the AdMonsters) during the drinking part of the program. Twenty-one people are already checked in!


Mark Theerman, Admeld – Megatrends in Mobile


9:25 – Programmatic buying is top of Abraham’s mind. Provides transparency, higher control and 35% higher eCPMs.


9:28 – As a car nut, Theerman suggests giving various RTB platforms a test drive when it comes to mobile. But you must understand auction dynamics.


9:30 – Second megatrend? Rift between mobile impressions and mobile budgets. Sounds familliar – isn’t there still that problem in online?


9:31 – Engage product and legal, and enable sacalale brand buys (through private exchanges!).


9:33 – Megatrend three: m-commerce. Mobile devices accounted for 14% of online retail spend on Black Friday


Jonny Shaw, Naked Play – Unlocking the Mobile Space Through Play


9:36 – Jonny’s background is traditional advertising, but he finds it dull – mobile is the most exciting platform the world has ever seen.


9:37 – Naked Play is redefining how to engage with consumers, and mobile is the best platform to do that from.


9:38 – Jonny is a player – playing is both the path to happiness and true business success. It’s not for kids!


9:39 – We play all our lives, it’s inherent in all our behavior. Companies bracing play in the core of their business are succeeding the most. Gamification is a subset of play.


9:39 – Jonny believes playing will be the biggest driver of all businesses in the next 20 years. Sound ridiculous? Well, consider how little importance was given to package design 20 years ago.


9:41 – We take a trip to Japan – Jonny first lived in Japan 15 years ago, a hotspot of innovation and technology and the birth of mobile culture. In 1996 mobile phone novels were being published in Japan – some went on to become physical books and films. Emoji (emoticons) were common practice 15 years ago.


9:43 – Japanese are more experimental with handsets and interfaces.


9:44 – On m-commerce front, Japanese hold fashion shows where viewers can buy runway products in real-time.


9:45 – iPhone comes to Japan in 2009 – skepticism on Japanese adoption is widespread. Two years later it’s by far the most popular device. Why? Because Japanese mobile lots its way due to an over-focus on tech: 3D phones, pedometers, house keys, etc. Not advancing the mobile space – useless tech.


9:47 – For users, mobile isn’t about technology but behavior – i.e., play. Foursquare’s #1 check-in location one year ago was Shibuya statyion in Tokyo.


9:48 – “The smartphone is our joystick for life.”


9:49 – App sales show that games our the most popular ones sold. All Japanese businesses bringing in cash our about gaming – in particular, apps that monetize through virtual goods.


9:51 – Play is about far more than mobile gaming. Play strategy also drives experimentation, discovery and socialization.


9:52 – Jonny’s mum was ill in Ireland when he was in Japan – Words With Friends faciliatated conversation across continents, and made it far better than, “How are you feeling? Bad?”


9:54 –Play can be quite useful for engaging parents and children, helping ingrain development – this lesson can be shifted to businesses and consumers.


9:55 Psychoanalytical psychology is flawed – you can’t change people by invading their heads and morphing their thoughts. Unfortunately marketing theory is based on this flawed approach.


9:56 – We need to flip the marketing paradigm – change the behavior first and let that change the eomotions. Mobile is not about sending messages and building awareness – it’s about changing behavior.


9:57 – Jonny shows examples of play-based marketing. “These are prototypes, so to speak,” he says. First off – an Axe Japanese commercials. Problem – Japanese guys don’t have odors… Not much use for body spray.


10:00 – Wanted to get involved in the wake-up part of the Japanese man’s routine – introduced a wake-up call service featuring beautiful women; when one calls you, she reminds you to throw on some Axe.


10:01 – “This is nirvana for brand marketers, building a service consumers will come back to.” Goes beyond “Let’s get the consumer to buy a slice ’cause he’s passing by the shop,” where Jonny feels the space is at right now.


10:04 – Toyota campaign – having a kid in the car is real stressful for all those around (including kid). Toyota created an app (Backseat Driver) that allows child to drive a virtual car on the same route as the car is going thanks to a GPS link.


10:05 – It’s a game – kids can collect items as they pass landmarks, earning points for customizing your virtual car.


10:06 – Potentially a useful add-on when getting users to pick one brand of car over another – engage the child.


10:08 – Nokia campaign – chip in skateboard/snowbard hooks up with mobile to send boarding data, which can be recorded and shared. It’s an open-source platform so developers can build more tools on it – Nokia is building an engagement platform for the future.


10:12 – We’re about to enter a golden age of gamification – even Al Gore has dropped the term and “he knows a bandwagon.”


10:13 – Gamification can change people’s behavior by layering a game frame. Puts mobile business at center of the marketing world. This is where all the heat is at.


10:14 – Mobile should be center of universe, but if it mimics web, then it will never reach it’s potential.


10:15 – Mobile is being used as a tactical tool when it should be used strategically – who are consumers and how are they playing? At the moment, the space is too much about random ideas.


10:16 – Need to move beyond campaign, which is the language the war. We assault consumers with messages until they submit and buy. Mobile is a tool for facilitating relationships instead of breaking wills.


10:17 – Think global, not local, hyper-local, etc.


10:18 – If you’re in the mobile space, burn your traditional marketing text books – embrace the sense of adventure inherent in the mobile space.


10:21 – In speaking to senior marketers at brands, they understand the value of building engagement platforms. App stores are not good experiences, unfortunately – brands spend tons of money building a major app only to see a slight amount of downloads.


Chris LaSala and Marcel Gordon, DoubleClick – Making the Operations Match the Strategy with DFP Mobile


10:24 – Some of Chris’ favorite mobile stats – there are more mobile devices in the U.S. than people. By the end of the year, 50% of Americans will have smartphones. Google has witnessed a fivefold increased in mobile querises in the past two year. Roughly 20% of all searches come from mobile now.


10:26 – Nearly everyone raises their hands when asked whether they’vedownloaded a game or a movie. The rest re probably ashamed for some reason –125 years worth of Angry Birds are played every day.


10:27 – Because mobile is so local, it will be an essential part of small/local business strategy.


10:28 – With innovations such as Digital Wallet, users will be able to connect the online/offline shopping worlds.


10:29 – Time to think mobile first. Publishers need to build for the mobile experience, contemplating device features, context (the space/time device is being used) and behavior (how’s it being employed).


10:30  – Live demo! Chris find “The Art of Fielding,” a book his wife requested for Christmas, see various prices and decides to buy the book at the Barnes & Noble down the street (it’s right at Union Square, Chris!).


10:34 – Instant uploading is a nice feature, especially for consumers valuing brevity.


10:35 – Publishers are worried about cannibalizing desktop business they’ve worked sohard to build up. Google’s guidance? “Cannibalize yourself, or else someone else will.”


10:36 – Don’t burden mobile developers with driving revenue right off the bat – let them experiment and get the actual engagement down pat. Then it’s time for the revenue discussion.


10:37 – 79% of Google AdWords advertisers aren’t going mobile. Not having a mobile-optimized site is the equivalent of being closed Tuesdays and Thursdays.


10:38 – Advertisers need to think mobile-specific – consider time-of day in building out the mobile element of a campaign.


10:39 – Advertisers need to get creative with their creative – consider the ability to build a unit that takes advantage of device features and push functionality like click-to-call.


10:40 – Who does it fall to to make it all work? Mainly the people in this room. Google says they are making products to facilitate their jobs – DFP Mobile has been built up over the last 18 months.


10:45 – Marcel takes over to discuss publisher products, starts off discussing a post-mobile world. Currently we’re splitting the business up between desktop and mobile, but does that really help deliver marketing?


10:47 – Sooner or later, mobile has to become a core part of your business (20% of traffic? 40%?) You don’t want that to be a split division – you want all your ops together.


10:48 – Where does the tablet lie? Many users go to desktop website, not mobile, but there’s no Flash and other tools… Doesn’t fit neatly in either bucket.


10:49 – Google has built mobile into DFP from the ground-up, it’s completely integrated. Big G is following its own advice and cannibalizing itself by rolling mobile into its desktop ad server.


10:50 – Making mobile simple and powerful – demo time. One of the real pain points is QA – does the creative look all right on any screen? DFP Mobile uses QR codes that can be scanned and use for previewing on a host of devices.


10:54 – More flashy is mobile video – pubs haven’t had the same kind of tools that mobile ad networks have had. DFP Mobile adds video ad server technology for transcoding (range of formats for various devices). It’s as easy as uploading, Marcel says. The server picks the correct code for whichever device.


10:56 – In a post-mobile world, you need to think about inventory, not devices. The ad server should sweep away all conflict related to devices, but if you’re still spit between mobile and desktop, that’s not possible.


10:59 – Frequency controls – how do you limit a multi-device user from seeing the same ad countless times? Google doesn’t have the solution yet, but a post-mobile world will help develop one. Post-mobile is about unification, but not pigeon holes.


Benjamin Dorr, Rhythm New Media – Mobile Video: The Evolution of Television


11:38 – Madness! Dorr is going to talk about television – but how mobile video is tied to it.


11:39 – There’s always going to be a glut of ad inventory, but attention is scarce. We need to stop thinking technologically what it takes to get it – we need to rethink from an operational aspect how to do it.


11:41 – Fewer sales teams should be representing your brand.


James Gaffar, NBCUniversal – Focus on Session: Approach to Mobile Fragmentation


11:43 – It’s an amazing time – supply is limited, demand in growing. The majority of requests NBCUni is seeing comes from tablets, which is quite a different experience from a smartphone. To an extent, they’re replacing the day-to-day use of laptops – 69% users stream video content. 


11:45 – Fundamental difference between mobile devices and desktop: consumers switch or upgrade mobile devices far more often, sometimes yearly. Ops has to keep an eye on trends – keeping track of the landscape will enable you to come up with best solution.


11:47 – U.N. as an analogy for describing mobile fragmentation – without translators, members would be completely lost. They’re just like encoding and technology solutions.


11:50 – Single streaming is the most basic way to go in terms of capabilities the ad is stitched to content, but fragmentation is still a great problem because of the wide array of devices. James thinks dynamic streaming, with multiple streams for both content and advertising, is the new gold. The capabilities are greater and the device reach is only slightly below single streaming.


11:53 – Native app development still makes sense on iOS and Android – iOS fragmentation is limited, but Android’s world of devices leads to hyper fragmentation. OS updates should alleviate some of these woes.


11:55 – HTML5 video players represent a client-side method of implementation. HTTP Live Streaming does adaptive bit rate switching on the fly, taking system into account – currently only supported by iOS and Android 3.0 (which is finicky, but the next version will be more receptive). Both offer analytics and reporting capabilities.


11:57 – Aligh your tech solution with the product roadmap and integrate ad ops processes – James notes that ops gets brought in late in the game with much mobile product development. Being in on the product development enables time for planning a solution, the ability to enhance ad products and gives time for testing and quality assurance.


12:03 – Support traffic growth by seeking out growth indicators and planning for enhancements in serving these groups – in terms of location and device.


12:05 – If NBCUni didn’t have the right processes in place, mobile video would be a cost center – and those never get positive attention.


12:08 – Rich media display is a popular alternative to mobile video, but NBCUni is more concerned in mobile parity with online. In-stream video is more engaging and brings in more revenue thanks to higher CPMs.

Paul Gelb, Razorfish – Harnessing the Power of Mobile-Specific Metrics


1:25 – Paul is amazed that OPS Mobile exists – we’ve gone from “Should we do mobile?” to “This is essential!” real, real quick. Interestingly, Paul started off as an intern at Razorfish, decided to take lead on the mobile stuff and now he’s a VP. Pretty nice parallel to space’s development.


1:27 – We’re at an inflection point, people. Pushback from clients: mobile is too much work, it’s too expensive, it’s too fragmented. The latter is great because campaigns were big enough that fragmentation is an issue.


1:32 – There’s a cost-cutting mentality in the brand world when it comes to marketing. The trick to bypassing this traditional view seems to be showing real, quantitative ROI, which is possible through mobile campaigns.


1:34 – Brands are used to hearing stories in terms of marketing; in mobile there’s a lot of chaotic information, but not really much of a story.


1:35 – Reframing the issues is the key – we need to make apple to apple comparisons. We’re having ad ops conversations far earlier in mobile compared to the web and the revenue is far more impressive.


1:37 – Mobile is pushing personalization, reigning things back to a face-to-face consumer experience – it’s nice in the age of big box stores and faceless conversations.


1:39 – Explain mobile to brands not as a tech story but a personalization tool – this applies to ops pros explaining the issues to their bosses.


1:40 – Mobile is giving marketers the chance to rethink cookies, and possibly get away from them entirely.


1:41 – The wave is the new click…


1:42 – Consumers value time more than anything else. Mobile devices disrupt the consumer journey, giving them far more control about the steps to take to conversions.


1:43 – Only scratched the surface in terms contextual targeting; Paul shares a Starwood campaign on a weather-related app that was aimed at consumer sick of the cold.


1:44  Going back to earlier point, ROI supports further investment – it’s a circular system that eventually leads to more innovative campaigns and tech.

1:48 – Mobile experience isn’t all that necessary in new hires, Paul comments – general expertise is more useful as the space’s development is in constant flux.


Sandrine Cardi & Romain Job, Smart AdServer – Monetizing Mobile With Advertising Today


2:04 – Haven’t heard of Smart AdServer? Romain aims to fix that, describing how the company has been serving ads for about 10 years and jumped into mobile in 2009.


2:05 – SAS is delivering 3 billion impressions per month currently. Most mobile pubs don’t use the web product.


2:07 – “Mobile display is all but mature.” Fragmentation is rampant on both the execution (multiple platforms, apps vs/ web) and the tech side (HTML5, Java)


2:10 – An example from a German advertiser – cross-platform opportunities (web app vs. native app) present massive (MASSIVE) eCPMs (hovering aroun 40 euros). However, fill rates are very low, though impressions served are pretty impressive.


2:13 – Ad ops in a fragmented environment – forget about desktop uniformity. SAS has reached more than 1,5000 devices, but they imagine consolidation is on the way. 68% of impressions served hit iOS.


2:14 – SAS has an automated system for optimizing mobile content to a variety of devices, including feature phones.


2:16 – Sardine takes over – all pubs are facing the same predicament, having veteran desktop teams not sure how to approach mobile.


2:19 – While smartphones have greatly opened the amount of inventory available, one of biggest challenges is a consistent fill rate.


2:20 – Targeting users on the go – mobile tech inherently feature geo-targeting, device-targeting, demo-targeting and other targeting features. We know where people are and even their sex – using that information effectively is the difficult front.


2:22 – Partnering with IP targeting services can work well in reaching the right users. Targeting audiences by point of interest improves customer engagement and hikes up eCPMs – 2.97% jump vs. 0.5 for non-targeted.


2:24 – Targeting should be a primary driver of campaign effectiveness – advertisers want audience, not inventory, anyway.


2:27 – Rich media is not just video HTML5 — it’s a specific scenario engaging a user.


2:33 – Sandrine goes through how to set up a campaign via SAS’s tool, which includes more than 25 formats available all customizable.


2:36 – Key takeways – pubs must have a dedicated mobile environment; rich media ramps up CPMs and can use the full potential of mobile ads; mobile quality assurance and testing are time consuming, but necessary. Integrating an SDK seems easy, but it’s harder than it looks.


Lori LeBas, ESPN, & David Adams, VEVO – Taking Mobile Video Beyond the Pre-Roll


3:15 – FreeWheel’s JoAnna Abel kicks off the session with stats garnered from the video ad server. For some more insight, check out this AdMonsters Q&A. Caught my ear – TV marketers consider tablets and game consoles as complementary tools. Check out the Xbox news today.


3:20 – David says, “FreeWheel really works!”


3:21 – Understanding the behavior of mobile video viewers gives you a picture of what your users want to do with their devices. VEVO launched two years ago to bring together the fragmented music video ecosystem online. It has a mobile app with music videos that proves a nice resource for advertisers looking to place video ads.


3:25 – Sports are similar. ESPN tried to have its own phone several years ago, but turning from a content company into a tech service company didn’t go so well. However, lessons learned from that experience helped build the current offering.


3:27 – Lori thinks about mobile four ways – for mobile (feature phone), for 3G/4G, for wireless and for tablet.


3:28 – ESPN’s app access is based on cable subscription Smartphone users (using data network) don’t want to watch longer programs, they want quick hits of video. Tablets are used as an extension of the television service. It’s snacking vs. consuming.


3:31 – Because network users are more interested in a quick snack, the pre-roll proves a better (less irritating) unit for wifi. Pre-roll is eternal, but reaching the quick-hit users needs something more customized. “How do we monetize the one-hit wonders?” asks David.


3:33 – ESPN gets negative feedback about pre-roll; the tablet app does not feature ads. Dynamic ads are a point of experimentation; the company is very concerned with supplying engaging creative. ESPN is concentrating on wifi first as 3G is a mess of issues involving ad serving and fill rates.


3:37 – ESPN also runs into restrictions regarding rights registration – a lot of content is actually rented from sports organizations, which bring their own long list of rules.


3:38 – Pop quiz – would a 15-second spot beat a 30-second on mobile? 30-second spots are outperforming in terms of view-through and click-through, David says. VEVO is investigating this statistic because it seems weird.


3:42 – VEVO says their mobile platform is witnessing the fastest-growing amount of traffic, part of the reason the company is spending so much time studying mobile user behavior. David can picture a future without desktops, just mobile, so getting in front now is essential.


3:43 – The difficulties inherent in mobile are hard for other internal divisions to wrap their heads around – in particular, the sales team.


OPS Mobile Wrap-Up Panel:


Brett Martin, Sonar
Nihal Mehta, LocalResponse
David Courtney, JiWire
Saket Saurabh, Mobsmith


4:40 – Still pretty crowded for the final session – a big wrap-up panel discussing location services through mobile devices.


4:44 – Nihal describes LocalResponse, which offers brands a way to respond to check-in type information. Brett describes Sonar, which aggregates check-in and social data to share information about people nearby. Dave explains JiWire’s services – location-based engagement  reaching consumers on the go through geotargeting. Sake’s Mobsmith focus on location-targeted ad serving.


4:47 – How do users tap into location services? Dave: tens of thousand location-based apps – as you download them, you’ll figure out which ones are most useful and how you can take advantage of brands through sharing your location.


4:49 – Brett: Location services mean you’re never bored. Implicit vs. explicit – check-ins people get hung up on privacy, when the truth is vast majority want to be found. Privacy is outranked by the desire for attention. Nihal: “We call it the era of digital narcisist.” Geo-tagging is the simplest form of location services – 10% to 15% of tweets are actually check-ins.


4:52 – Saket: People are increasingly opting in to geotargeted advertising, they see the advantages.

4:54 – Dave: A lot of us up here don’t collect PII – we recognize a device and know where it’s been, but we don’t know what person is using it. We don’t need to.


4:56 – For small merchants, they need to know their customers, users are choosing to give it to them through location-based apps. Brett: Small merchants want mobile users to tell their friends where they are. Imagine checking into your normal bar and they prepare your favorite drink.


5:00 – Why big brands need mobile, and location-based services in particular. Saket: audience is on mobile, you have toreach them. Dave: 50% of people’s waking hours are away from offices and homes. Brett: When you’re moving, you’re suceptible to interests. Nihal: More engagement and creative opportunities on mobile.


5:06 – Is mobile DR-only or can it be used as a branding tool? Nihal: P&G’s new “Last Shot” campaign targets nightlifers – LocalResponse is looking at club check-ins, targeting users with funny tweets.


5:07 – Saket – Why is mobile messy? The cross-platform issue – but mobile can provide intense data support on the local level, even for giant brands. All the issues are solvable by technology.


5:08 – Legacy of web: the click-through debacle and an over-reliance on DR advertising. Can that be avoided in the development of the mobile space.


5:09 – Dave describes Compass, which turns a banner into a fully functional app; has geo-targeting ability, quite useful for brick and mortar retailers. Even tied into inventory issues – if one location is out of a Samsung TV, another one will pop up, meaning the advertisers dollars don’t go to waste.


5:11 – Brett describes the WIRED pop-up store, where personalized recommendations are sent to the consumer when she/he are in the store.


5:12 – Nihal: CPA model that doesn’t exist on the web will work with mobile. Beeler: More transparency in the attribution model.


5:14 – Are apps a fad? [Silence] Brett: It’s the channel du jour – like caring whether a website is built in java or ruby on rails. Nihal: Big barrier has been network speed – looking for a speed overhaul over the holiday season with so many 4G devices appearing. Web apps will soon act like native apps.


5:18 – How do ad ops unleash the revenue power of mobile traffic? Saket: First get your data under control – how do you slice and dice that traffic? Then, how do you support the sales team. Finally, do you have the right technology to take advantage of services like RTB?


5:20 – Dave: Online buys used to be small; once the industry showed they could perform on campaigns consistently, buys went up. Same will happen in mobile – too many test campaigns, but solid results will bring in more advertisers.