Eric Fang is the CEO of Mintegral, a programmatic and interactive mobile advertising platform that balances its global footprint with a strong focus on the APAC region. In this post he explains why programmatic advertising is changing for the better, and what advertisers and brands can expect in the future.
How far can we really see into the future? When it comes to predicting big changes in technology, it’s often the case that really big changes take longer to arrive than we predict, but faster than we expect.
Mobile advertising is no different in this respect. But I believe the changes we are undergoing at Mintegral are being reflected by the wider industry, as we all continue to improve and develop more sophisticated ways of delivering advertising to an increasingly sophisticated audience.
A shift towards vertical integration
In the early days of mobile advertising, fragmentation reigned. Small, innovative companies drove the adoption of programmatic advertising through specialization. At first, this was literally in the form of a Real-Time Bidding platform (RTB) but later, as companies grew, many developed their own demand and supply-side platforms as well.
That may have worked OK on a smaller scale, but today’s consumers now expect advertising in a variety of formats, across a variety of devices.The term ‘omnichannel’ has become commonplace, and consumers are spending more time than ever before browsing online or using apps. This is driving programmatic platforms to adopt a similarly omnichannel approach.
For Mintegral, this has meant building a fully-integrated approach, from an advertiser self-service option through to our own SSP, DSP, DMP, analytics and even our own Mintegral Creative Lab for developing new ad formats. Other companies are doing the same, and I believe that very soon, advertisers will not want to deal with ad companies that cannot offer a similarly integrated service.
Partly this is a response to years of fragmentation (‘fragmentation fatigue’), but advertisers are also looking for greater efficiency and a much higher degree of transparency and accountability that is possible when there is a longer supply chain.
The DSP bubble is bursting
IN growing Mintergal, we have focused much more on our Supply-Side Platform (SSP). My view is that by getting that right, with high-quality, safe traffic that matches the needs and expectations of advertisers, we can expand more easily up the ‘stack’ to the demand-side, and avoid the problems that many DSPs face.
If you look at the past several years, Demand-Side Platforms grew really quickly thanks to the huge influx of ad budgets and investment. But this has led to a bubble of over-demand and a lot of poor practices that have damaged trust in the entire industry. Just look at the continued repercussions from companies like Proctor & Gamble, that have rightly questioned where their ad dollars have gone.
The good news is that things are changing for the better. Those DSPs that remain are addressing the problems around transparency and quality, and I think that this upheaval will be for the long-term benefit of everyone.
(More) AI in advertising
Is there a bigger buzzword at the moment than AI? (If you said blockchain, that must come a close second).
Of course, when we talk about AI, we don’t literally mean self-aware robots. We mean the smart algorithms and machine learning that already underpins programmatic advertising.
In simple terms, programmatic advertising is about selecting ads that best meets the needs of users in real-time based on their device and its current context. As we improve the algorithms that do this, we deliver better and more valuable experiences to the consumer.
By using machine learning technology we can get a better understanding of a customer’s buying potential, and rely less on human input – which is a cost and time bottleneck.
Global giants including Facebook, Google, Amazon, and BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) are all proactively investing in AI. With some 85% of the digital ad spend already going to this small number of dominant companies, it is, therefore, essential to invest in AI in order to stay competitive.
Aligned to better AI is the issue of managing the volumes of data involved. Thanks to the growth of social media, e-commerce and web and app usage, there has been an explosion in the amount of data available to marketers. So the competitive advantage comes not only from who can create the best algorithms, but who can best collect, sort and interpret the data that the algorithms depend on.
More consumers expect their ads to be interactive
I’ll bet that you don’t remember the last banner ad you were shown, but you can remember the last video or playable ad you saw. That, in a nutshell, is what’s driving the mobile ad industry right now.
There has been a huge increase in the use and consumption of video ads, and mobile-specific formats such as in-app playable ads and rewarded video are proving very effective – particularly within games. There are also early forms of AR and VR advertising, which push the idea of interactivity in really exciting ways.
So consumers clearly react positively to more interactive forms of advertising. But it’s the creativity that is inherent to these formats that I think is crucial. We often talk about the fact that good creative will succeed where poor creative will fail. Now, we are developing formats which are themselves creative to experience and use.
This means that programmatic platforms need creativity both in technology and in ideas. I believe we will see the idea of creativity become a real differentiator in the programmatic space, in the same way that ad agencies use the creativity of their campaigns as a showcase of their own services.
Earlier this year we created the Mintegral Creative Laboratory, which has 15 people trying to help advertisers inject more creativity into their programmatic campaigns, and I can see other companies following this approach.
The future will be here soon
In talking about the future of programmatic advertising, I have really discussed things which are already well underway, and about which there is a broad consensus across the industry. So don’t be disappointed if you read this looking for blue-skies thinking.
On the contrary. I am excited that we as an industry are moving in the same direction, as it means companies will succeed or fail based on their ability to execute and to go above the expectations of their clients. Mobile programmatic is now dominating the industry to the point where we are now realizing the true potential of the technology, rather than the ‘fast and cheap’ approach which marked the early years of programmatic exchanges.
Mintegral is an AI-driven, programmatic and interactive ad platform, providing mobile user acquisition and monetization solutions to worldwide brands and mobile developers to reach their marketing goals.With a particular focus on the Asia Pacific region, Mintegral offers a full stack products and one-stop mobile marketing and analytics services from supply-side to demand-side, including Advertiser Self-serve, DSP, SSP, DMP and Creative Lab, etc.
Nowadays, Mintegral works with thousands of well-known advertisers worldwide from game, finance, ecommerce and other industries. Mintegral leverages rewarded video,Mintegral is an AI-driven, programmatic and interactive ad platform, providing mobile user acquisition and monetization solutions to worldwide brands and mobile developers to reach their marketing goals.With a particular focus on the Asia Pacific region, Mintegral offers a full stack products and one-stop mobile marketing and analytics services from supply-side to demand-side, including Advertiser Self-serve, DSP, SSP, DMP and Creative Lab, etc.