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Google buys AdMob and Apple takes Quattro bite. Now what?

By Gary Schwartz

With the recent Google/AdMob and Apple/Quattro Wireless rumpus, we all are looking to the positive fallout in 2010. Maybe it would be overly simplistic or apologetic to say that up until the $1 billion-drop we were all just building network and waiting.

Now, with Google and Apple acquiring mobile advertising networks, we need to get on with the business of driving up the CPMs.

How do we go about this? With many publishers bundling the mobile buy for free with a more robust online commitment, it is difficult to explain to the buyer the unique and powerful value of the mobile CPM.

Speak with planners and they will tell you the following things about mobile inventory buying:

1. For a small wedge of the digital buy, it is ?mighty hard to buy?
2. The CPM ?seems too high for the value-add?
3. To drive an integrated buy with post-click strategy, there are ?too many moving parts.?

The Interactive Advertising Bureau has worked hard to demystify the buy by publishing a Mobile Buyer?s Guide which holds the media planners? hand as they extend their digital buy to mobile.

However, no guide will drive significant dollars into mobile until the mobile buy is not an also-ran to the online buy and commands a respectable CPM in its own right.

History repeats itself
The nice thing about any mobile debate is that we have inevitably gone through the same issue historically with emerging media channels.

Remember how mainstream television sold specialty channels? The value proposition made sense:  programming  targeted at a specific demographic. The inventory was in many cases bundled as a package deal for some unsuspecting brand.

When the online buy appeared in the mid-1990s, sales teams grudgingly added it as a sweetener to the broadcast 30-second commitment. It was free stuff ? no one sold it and no one knew how ? but it was part of the bundle.

Rinse and repeat. The online sales team is now a mature powerhouse. Hell, it is the only team selling in this new economy. Finally, we have conceded that analog dollars are moving to digital dimes.

We now have a media that is targeted and measured. Apart from a dwindling generation of legacy 30-minute-spot executives golfing with big brands, the world has changed.

A few online sales people are now tasked with selling mobile impressions. Again, a generation gap. Mobile is bundled with the online buy. No one can explain the mobile value proposition well. Indeed, it becomes more difficult that it is ?worth? to become a resident expert.

The native mobile salesperson
For mobile to be sold effectively, two things have to happen:

1. Take online CPMs for a walk: Mobile needs to be treated as business-as-usual with similar vernacular and measurement standards as other digital buys.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Mobile Marketing Association, with the guidance of George Ivy of the Media Ratings Council, are making great strides in this direction. In 2010, the buyer will be able to compare online and mobile measurement guidelines and have comfort in consistency.

2. Mobile creative ad units: At the same time, the industry needs to present the planner/buyer with creative ad units that drive engagement and post-click conversion that is unique to the mobile channel.

Crisp Wireless and Medialets have worked hard to develop creative ad units that are native to mobile. Recent examples of native mobile ad units are Quattro and AdMob?s Interactive Video Ad Unit for iPhone 3.0.

AdMob is developing a click-flow to make mobile video interactive with customizable in-player action buttons to allow consumers to engage with Web content in-player. Quattro has developed in-ad custom maps.

But the opportunity goes beyond these innovative units.

Hone phone
Presently these creative ad units are helping mobile deliver contextual and targeted messaging with location, carrier profile and self-selection. They also help measure the quality and duration of engagement.

Kudos to Jumptap and Microsoft for developing more refined targeting data to drive up the value of their networks. 

Jumptap correlates anonymous browsing history and location to attempt to target the ad to the consumer?s ?moment of intent,? in the words of their chief marketing officer Paran Johar. Information is profiled and coupled to display and text ad units which are dynamically served.

Mobile organizations such as the Mobile Entertainment Forum are working to formalize these data metrics with their ?Smartpipe Enablers? initiative.

The MEF is empowering wireless carriers to add value to ad networks and earn revenue by providing essential ?creative ad unit? services such as location, user presence, age verification, sender-pays data, user demographic profile and wallet.

The industry needs to recognize the value of the mobile channel to connect the dots, helping the customer conversion to last-mile ROI destinations such as point of sale and mobile commerce. Consumer engagement and ?impulse? conversion are the hallmark of mobile.

Look to the National Retail Federation?s Retail Big Show next week in New York and the Mobile Boot Camp from Mobile Commerce Daily and NRF?s Retail Innovation & Marketing Conference in San Francisco March 2 to see how mobile is appearing in retail as an essential connect-the-dots option for brands and store owners.

This year needs to be the year of selling mobile. After a few years of chasing the mobile CPM to the floor, 2010 has to be the year for an unbundled, value-rich mobile CPM.

Gary Schwartz is president of mobile marketing technology firm Impact Mobile Inc., New York. He is also co-chair of the Interactive Advertising Bureau?s mobile committee and vice-chair of the Americas for the Mobile Entertainment Forum. Reach him at .