Mobile use is exploding and with it comes a bit of a "Wild West" competition among mobile ad developers. A slew of companies are competing for their slice of the $11.9 billion mobile advertising pie.
Each new mobile ad development takes a slightly different approach, so watching the developments play out is certainly interesting. It’s still early enough in the game to be unclear which type of mobile ad will prevail as the leader – if any.
Here are five recent mobile ad developments that could produce a top dog.
Yahoo has been on quite the rollercoaster in the past year or so since Marissa Mayer took over as CEO. The company has struggled a bit with introducing ad products that really work as it attempts to catch up with competitors like Google, but that hasn’t stopped it from trying. The most recent introduction is Gemini, a single self-service platform for mobile search and native advertising.
Gemini can be accessed through the Yahoo Ad Manager introduced by Mayer at CES earlier this year. Mobile advertising is on a crash course of sorts with native, so Yahoo’s experiment to merge the two into one platform could prove genius or a disaster. Either way, Yahoo is smart to jump into the mobile space – it's the fastest-growing market segment.
Mega-publisher Meredith is taking a different kind of approach to monetizing mobile. It recently inked a one-year deal with Kiip, a tech startup that gives mobile users branded “rewards” for completing certain tasks on its publisher partners’ apps. For example, Meredith plans to integrate Kiip into its most popular app, Allrecipes Dinner Spinner. Users could receive a free Quaker Oats sample after they upload, share, or save a recipe.
"Gamifying" mobile advertising with rewards isn’t new, but applying the tactic to content-based apps rather than actual games is fairly new territory. If the one-year trial goes well for Meredith, it could set a precedent for other publishers to follow suit.
Digital advertising tech firm Rocket Fuel has had quite the year. The company went public in 2013 and has since experienced over 100% growth year-over-year — but it still isn’t profitable. Last week, Rocket Fuel announced the launch of its Mobile Advertising Suite, which could potentially help the firm get over that hump and into the black.
According to eMarketer, mobile ad spending is expected to double in 2014, so Rocket Fuel might certainly be onto something. Rocket Fuel claims that the suite has already helped hundreds of global advertisers see significant return on investment. The company’s suite could appeal to retailers, especially those that can make use of the big data analytics to drive foot-traffic into their stores.
Ad exchange OpenX is another company to put faith into native mobile ads by launching a private exchange geared specifically toward native mobile ads. The real-time bidding exchange allows developers and publishers to sell in-stream ads to a pre-selected group of buyers.
Although only announced this week, publishers IconApps and Tagged, as well as buyers RUN and mediasmart, have jumped on board with the private exchange. OpenX’s mobile expansion, like that of Yahoo, is betting that native mobile ads will experience heavy growth in the next few years. Right now, native mobile ads make up only a small percentage of mobile ads sold, but the explosion of mobile and the appeal of native could set up the marketplace for fast-growth.
Mobile ad network InMobi made a bigger push to grab more of the mobile market this month with its release of a mobile video ad platform. Not only is the network another option for video ads on mobile, the video ads delivered are highly interactive. The ads are context-aware and therefore delivered to a more targeted audience.
InMobi expects that around 30-40% of its existing customers will make the switch to the mobile video ad platform over the next year. With this quick shift of interest, and the uniqueness of the mobile video ads, InMobi has a real shot at competing with giants in the space like Google and Facebook.