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Helping Brands Deliver in A Mobile-First World: Interview With Scott Schmidt

Scott-selfI worked with Scott Schmidt while at M&C Saatchi Mobile, developing mobile media strategies for clients and working together to win new business. Scott recently joined the newly created PIVMO, a mobile marketing and analytics company after having worked as a media supervisor and previously a digital strategist planner.  The mobile industry has grown at a staggering pace since you've been in the industry. How have you noticed the conversations around mobile shifting and maturing during this growth?

Definitely - things are beginning to take shape but still not where they need to be.  You’ve seen new mobile-first brands skyrocket faster than any other platform I’ve ever seen.  I’ve also seen consumers just really fall in love with the technology from streaming Netflix on their phone and casting to the TV, or reading articles on the train, or sharing their social status…. it just makes things in life so much more convenient to a person.  The largest issue is many clients still don’t grasp this, don’t have mobile ready websites or apps and they’re getting late to the party.  Facebook really blew the media eyeballs open in 2013 with over half its ad revenue now coming from mobile.  I like to compare it to social media a few years back, when every brand was still deciding if they should have a Facebook page, or Twitter page, but if you were one of the brands that committed to it, then you obviously saw them reap the rewards.  As for the actual media side of things, it’s still a small portion vs. digital budgets and the main reason for that is either 1) they don’t have a mobile ready product or 2) they don’t really understand the mobile media landscape to get strong results from it.  2014 is the first year mobile traffic is going to overtake Desktop PC traffic. Consumers have already made their transition - it’s time for brands to start understanding how to connect with their consumers in a mobile first world [pullquote]Consumers have already made their transition - it’s time for brands to start understanding how to connect with their consumers in a mobile first world. [/pullquote]

What are some of the more surprising ways that advertisers and media buyers are able to target mobile users? 

Mobile is a whole new world for targeting, and this is mainly due to apps being the experience consumers are choosing vs. browsers.  Apps are just a much richer experiences to consumers, and because of this, cookies are not available.  So when you talk about targeting in mobile, you don’t have that cookie trail available on browsers.  What do you have in apps?  You have something called ‘Device IDs’ or other ‘IDs’ being put into place to track devices anonymously.  It’s a really messy space which is why many advertisers don’t get the performance / targeting they’re looking for.  The best advertisers are using 1st party, 2nd party and 3rd party data based on device ID, registration data or other data that is properly matched to devices.  It’s EXTREMELY important to understand how the data is captured and how it’s matched to the way you serve ads to those users.

What makes it even a larger issue in mobile today is you have to buy from Publishers directly, Ad Networks, and also Demand Side Platforms to get the scale and performance you need.  I expect this to consolidate over the next few years.  On the bright side - consumers are sharing their data at astounding rates through social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and other apps which help advertisers truly understand their audience.  Imagine that: users are telling you what they like, how they’re engaging – and brands just need to listen and provide that experience.  It’s a lot easier than it sounds!!! 

What is an average click rate and how does that compare to other forms of media? 

This is a loaded question, but Click rates are much higher on mobile vs. desktop, many say this is due to ‘fat finger’ syndrome but in reality if you have a great ad, and a great user experience the results outweigh desktop without question.  I’ve seen click rates range anywhere from 0.3% to 20%.  Either way, click rates should rarely be the measurement for your brand, you should be looking at other things like app installs, in-app events, engagement, brand lifts, social chatter, etc…

How much do organic installs (i.e. installs from customer interest vs. influenced by ads) play in an app's install success rate? 

Organic installs are huge, but you can’t get those installs without awareness.  Whether you’re using TV, social, mobile, or desktop you need to create awareness.  The tricky side is on iOS where the volume of downloads effects your ranking.  And with a higher ranking, you are maintaining more visibility and ultimately organic downloads.  It’s important to build a loyal base which can be done through ads with the right targeting, creative and measurement.

Through mobile, brands have the opportunity to specifically reference a variety of factors in their messaging based on their mobile data - from the time of day, current temperature, location, etc. How often are these tactics used and are they more successful? 

These tactics are used by the brands that are ahead of the curve and they’re definitely more successful.  It really all depends on the clients’ goals and KPI’s they’re trying to achieve.  Retailers are jumping on the horn for location data to drive brick and mortar sales, but in reality I see a lot of brands do this just to say they’re doing mobile.  This is why understanding the data is the biggest factor when buying media in mobile.  Other elements you’ll see is dynamic creative - saying you’re a block away from the nearest store, or a countdown to an upcoming sale.  I’ve seen entertainment networks leveraging countdowns for upcoming shows and adding it to your calendar, and some brands incorporating real-time social data such as tweets during big events like the Superbowl.  If the data you’re using for these ads aren’t accurate, imagine the issues you face.  You could be in Los Angeles getting an ad for a nearby store in NYC. 

What are some of the more innovative mobile media campaigns you've seen more recently?

One of the coolest campaigns I’ve seen recently was by Toys R Us in which they promoted gift buying to parents utilizing a voice recognition advertisement.  Once you opened the ad, you had to speak and tell them about the child you’re shopping for, what you think they liked and then it recommended an item that you could buy instantly.  Also received an ad last week, saying ‘Hey you at the agency’ in which they geo-fenced and audience targeted me explaining how they targeted the ad in a video.  That’s hardcore stuff, but it really catches your eye and leaves a lasting impression on your audience.  Then you have the larger brands running ads that are fully immersive such as Virgin Atlantic where you could walk into the plane, view its seats, and have a 360 view.  iPad ads are some of the most beautiful ads you’ll see on any channel.

What goes into planning a mobile media campaign? How much of it is understanding target behaviors vs. understanding what kind of spend will lead to conversions? Vs. having the knowledge of various ad networks?

A LOT goes into planning, and this all depends on what the client is trying to achieve.  Planning includes the media placements you’re buying, the type of ad units you’re buying (banners, native, video, rich media, audio, etc…), creative, the data you’re leveraging and the tracking available.  Since data is a huge thing in mobile, it’s important to understand where each network, publisher or demand side platform is getting that data and how they’re matching it to the targeting.  Let’s say for example you want to geo-fence an area for a retail store, you want to ensure all the location data you’re receiving is accurate, and in real-time.  On the flip side if you’re a new brand that wants to understand who your consumer is in mobile, you can still run broad and measure / optimize against different devices, operating systems, device models, geo, connection speed, gender, age, etc… the list is really endless.  As for spend leading to conversions, in the past it was always a better choice not to spend a premium for data since it was not really there yet in mobile, this is changing rapidly  - BUT still not for everyone.

Let's pretend you work for a digital ad agency. A big brand comes to you and says they want to develop an app. What are some questions you ask them related to media? 

First question is what took you so long?  Lol, no but seriously it’s important for the brand to understand the app’s usage:

  • Is the app meant to be a complete user experience like their web properties?
  • Is it for acquisition purposes or awareness?
  • What are their media goals / KPIs?
  • Are you planning on implementing any analytic / 3rd party tracking solutions for media or in-house tracking?
  • What has worked in other channels – desktop, TV, radio, print, etc…
  • Who is their target audience?  Are they open to testing beyond this?
  • What devices and operating systems will it be available on?

Based on this we can build a plan and measurement to execute against so it aligns with their brand, but also aligns to mobile consumer expectations.

What kind of data can you get about people and their mobile habits from media campaigns? Is this information even fully utilized by clients to better understand their customer? 

I think this is the MOST important aspect of mobile media campaigns.  The value of the data is priceless (maybe not truly priceless but you get the point) vs. any other channel.  Mobile is truly the consumer, it gives information on the type of content they consume, the locations they visit, their social habits, transactions they make and other devices they connect with.  It’s a device that encompasses everything about a person.  [pullquote]Mobile is truly the consumer, it gives information on the type of content they consume, the locations they visit, their social habits, transactions they make and other devices they connect with.  It’s a device that encompasses everything about a person.[/pullquote]Very few brands are utilizing this to understand their consumer because they’re a bit jaded by how mobile was a few years ago or they’re just not getting the right education from their agency / marketing solutions.

How can creative agencies and mobile media agencies better work together to create more effective ads to customers? Which creative agencies do you feel are leading the charge on mobile? 

Creative is really the key to mobile.  Digital somewhat hurt themselves over the years by just spamming impressions and measuring backend analytics to the point where we forgot about the consumer experience.  Most consumers are blind from seeing an ad 50 times on desktop before making a purchase, vs. seeing a TV commercial or even a video commercial online that created the awareness.  Mobile is a groundbreaking technology that should be thought of as a place to engage users in an intimate way.  You literally don’t need to send the consumer anywhere to make an impact, I’ve seen campaigns where users will open an ad and interact with it for over 5 minutes.  You’re talking about a consumer interacting with a brand on their most personal device and spending a penny to the dollar vs. say a TV campaign.  There’s so many creative agencies out there that do great work, but I’ll say actual providers are leading the charge since they pioneer the technology, them being Celtra, Phluant and some of the other rich media guys out there.

How is PIVMO different from other mobile media agencies? What need are they filling that other mobile media agencies haven't?

I think where PIVMO excels at is allowing seamless integration to a brands business and what they’re doing in other media channels and being able to simplify the process for them.  Since we’re still quite a new company, we have a fresh perspective on things as our founders are not only coming from mobile, but also digital, out-of-home and TV.  We’re also not tied to any large overhead structure, which allows for great service, innovative ideas and the ability to react to trends much, much, faster.  Mobile media is still extremely complicated, which requires dedicated experts, multiple media tactics, tracking and optimization techniques to achieve success.  We actually have built an internal solution to streamline all the reporting from our partners called PIVTrax, which I will say is probably the biggest differentiator vs. our competitors.  Lastly, we understand that media is only one side of the coin, we’ve partnered with some amazing companies to offer UX design / enhancements that will ensure your brand is ready for a mobile first world!