I wrote an earlier post called “In a world without cookies” which was my early response to the default setting in Apple’s Safari browser. This issue has expanded such that we’ll see even fewer cookies out there, so I’m going to bring a little more light to the issue of privacy and privacy compliance in mobile, tablet and the desktop.
For the purposes of addressing privacy, the physicality of the device, whether it is a tablet, phone, or a desktop computer, can be mostly ignored. The real technical distinctions with regard to privacy are between browsers and apps. It’s also important to understand the need for advertising companies to maintain compliance with organizations like the NAI and initiatives like the OAB. Together, the OAB and NAI dictate opt-out rules that online advertising companies must adhere to.
3rd Party Cookie Blocking
Apple’s Safari browser has a default set to block third party cookies. Firefox will soon have a similar default setting.
The most prolific obstacle in privacy and compliance is probably a result of Apple’s move to disable 3rd party cookies by default in their Safari browser. This is not just the Safari that ships on your iPad or iPhone, but all Safari browser installs, including that one on everyone’s beloved Windows machine. Now, the team behind Mozilla’s Firefox browser has pledged to do the same. Blocking by default causes two problems: advertising companies can’t do simple things like frequency cap using a cookie, and there’s no way to determine the user’s actual intent. If the default setting was to allow 3rd party cookies, a user’s intent would be crystal clear if it was set to block. Read more
As I covered in the first blog post, mobile presents a tremendous market opportunity for publishers. A large and growing share of traffic comes from mobile devices. According to comScore, 13.3% of pageviews came from mobile devices in August.
On a smartphone there are basically two ways to go online: web or apps. Let’s start with apps. In contrast to mobile web, apps have been built from the ground up for smartphones. Content has rendered into an experience that doesn’t require a mouse and/or keyboard. Additionally, apps normally don’t feel like a pared down or diminished version of their online display counterpart. Think about your favorite app – it’s likely that you’re playing a game, checking weather, interacting on a social network or looking for directions. These experiences seem natural on a smartphone app.
Apps vs Browser
In contrast to apps, using a browser on a smartphone to access a site’s “desktop experience” creates a number of challenges. When presented with a standard web page the smartphone’s browser will shrink the content to fit the width of the display. This has the unfortunate effect of making all of the content very small, forcing the user to pinch, zoom and swipe to see content.
In order to combat this effect, publishers create “mobile optimized” websites. These sites are built with the screen size limits in mind. They typically feature pared down versions of their online display (desktop) counterparts, and often put smaller versions of images in-line with text designed to take the full width of the smaller screen.
In contrast to a negative experience on a smartphone, a tablet has more in common with standard desktop experiences. Most standard web sites render just fine on tablets and even the ads can be seen. Users can view content on tablets with very little zooming and swiping. However, while the content renders mostly correct, tablets do share a challenge with their smartphone counterparts – the unique nature of touch navigation.
There are many resources online to guide you through the step-by-step process of optimizing your content for mobile devices. To get started it is important to recognize that mobile devices are navigated by touch, which is quite different than the mouse-driven, point-and-click navigation of the desktop world. Rather than clicks, you will design for taps; instead of scrolls you will design for drags and swipes. These are subtle differences that change the way that a user interacts with content. Button size becomes important. Drop down menus are harder to use. Anything that requires a hover is pretty much useless in a touch world.
Another thing to consider is the file size of your site. Since much of the content accessed via mobile devices will be downloaded over cellular rather than high-speed access via Wi-Fi, it is important to trim the fat and reduce that file size as much as possible. A final consideration is the absence of Flash in the mobile web world. Flash content will not render on iOS devices. Given the ubiquity of iPhones and iPads, this is an important issue to address. There are alternatives to Flash, such as HTML5, that deliver similar capabilities and work across all devices.
At the end of the day, these devices share many characteristics but what works on a smartphone won’t necessarily work on a tablet; and vice-versa. It’s important to examine these two device types independently to determine the best user experience for your content across these devices. They need to be evaluated in terms of screen-size and form factor for strategies across content. This goes from content to creative to analytics. Have you built a mobile optimized site? What challenges have you faced? Comment below for other readers and I’ll address questions in future posts.
In the last post I reviewed the market opportunity in mobile advertising and examined the unique challenges with each of the major operating systems in the market. This post will focus on the various mobile devices and provide a structure for defining what constitutes “mobile”. Rather than thinking about mobile as one large group, let’s break it down by device type and screen size. Most devices (laptop, phone or tablet) now are “mobile” in that you could conceivably carry them around and get a Wi-Fi signal, browse the Internet and check email. However, research (and common sense, really) shows that this isn’t true in practice. From a practicality standpoint, how many people do you see walking down the street with an open laptop versus people typing away on their phone?
The term “mobile” gets thrown around and is used to classify pretty much any device that can be carried. However, to develop a comprehensive mobile strategy, you should think beyond the device and instead consider the form factor (i.e. size, shape, weight of the device) as well as how it is used. Through this lens, it becomes very apparent that smartphones and tablets are quite different even if both could be called mobile.
The mobile phone is very personal to the user. It’s intimate, portable, in the pocket and always, ALWAYS with the person. According to a Gartner study of device usage, mobile phones are used throughout the day – 65% of users use them outside the home and 66% use them at work. These stats indicate that these devices are truly made to be on-the-go. Giordano Contestabile of PopCap Games enlightened a group at the Business Insider Mobile Advertising Conference with some survey results on PopCap’s users. He indicated that 27% of their users take their phones to the bathroom. Consider that next time you ask to use someone else’s phone. All humor aside, this is clearly why the phone has been called mobile – it helps users with navigation, communication, entertainment and information in real time.
Tablets are different than mobile phones. They are not as personal as phones. Rather, tablets are often shared by a household rather than used by a single person. Perhaps due to this shared nature, they’re most commonly used at home. “But tablets are portable,” you’d argue. Sure, your tablet goes places. It rides on the train, gets read on the plane, entertains children in the car; but it’s not in anyone’s pocket. So it’s definitely on the mobile spectrum, but also definitely isn’t the same use case as a smartphone. Apple’s recent announcement of the iPad Mini has created further nuance among these devices and introduced a new type – the mini tablet. While the jury is out on just how mobile these mini tablets will be, they will probably be used in ways that are more like standard tablets than phones..
Recent data from Neilson indicates that people will browse and search for products on their phone and tablet. However, when it comes to purchasing, the tablet is king with 42% of respondents buying goods through the bigger screen. A second, rapidly growing usage of tablets is as the second screen in a newly coined “two screen experience”. Epic shows like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead offer the enhanced experiences, sometimes with synchronized content on both screens. In this scenario users are on the couch, in front of their TV, watching a show while consuming the additional content available on their tablet. The online components of big budget entertainment productions are no longer in the hands of lowly interns monitoring blogs and twitter. Instead, the enhanced offering and growing user base is drawing unique components of advertiser budgets.
As you develop the user experience for your content, you should weigh these different use cases. By thinking beyond the definition of “mobile” you can get to the root of how a device and its form factor can impact user experience. Is your content immersive and does it require a larger form factor, or is it largely text-based? What are the most common devices that are used to access your content? The answers to these questions can serve as a guide to formatting and building content for mobile. What do you think? Do you consider phones and tablets separately, or does their extreme portability make them mobile? Comment below for other readers and I’ll address questions in future posts.
For the last six months my primary focus at Rubicon has been on our mobile strategy. For me, last year was the year of Real-Time Bidding and this year is the year of Mobile. Here’s an excerpt from my blog post that accompanied the initial launch of our mobile offering today. This post is also published on the Rubicon Project blog
In 2013, eMarketer data suggests that the US mobile advertising market will be a two billion dollar business. Over one third of those dollars will hit display advertising on mobile devices. This is not a steady state. The market is growing 45%-60% year over year, and this trend will continue for at least the next few years.
Publishers are having difficulty capitalizing on this trend. Several sources suggest that only 25% of available display inventory is being sold. With such low fill rates it’s no wonder that, to this point, mobile display advertising has been on the back burner for many of them.
In 2011 Rubicon conducted a publisher survey on a wide variety of aspects in the digital advertising market. While many important topics ranked highly as publisher concerns, mobile was at the top of the list. Our customers were asking us for a solution.
A typical mobile solution currently employed by many publishers involves running direct campaigns with one of several mobile ad-serving platforms. Most of these systems have tools to target and serve direct campaigns, display reports and send unfilled inventory to a mediation partner. This partner makes efforts to fill the inventory with the ads on hand, but typically serves blank ads much of the time.
During our mobile research in the first quarter of 2012 we found that a true monetization platform that handled mobile inventory properly for buyers and sellers was lacking in the market. Some SSPs were offering mobile monetization, but the inventory they brought to the market was not always optimized for display on mobile devices. Other vendors were offering an exclusively mobile solution, which required publishers to log into yet another system.
In the second quarter, the Rubicon Project acquired a small mobile company out of San Francisco and immediately set itself on a path to bring a holistic monetization solution for publishers that addressed display advertising in both online and mobile mediums. Rubicon is making high quality, mobile optimized inventory available and attracting high quality demand partners to buy it. Rubicon’s REVV for Mobile solution will bring higher fill rates to publishers at higher rates.
It was important to address both publisher needs and demand partner concerns. REVV will isolate and validate mobile optimized inventory for buyers, which will bring greater buyer confidence and higher prices for the inventory. Publishers will also have an opportunity to take advantage of our new mobile ad server for scheduling their direct campaigns as well as build highly interactive ad units that take advantage of the rich features of today’s smartphones.
With these powerful tools, REVV for Mobile will empower publishers to finally take advantage of the rapidly growing mobile advertising market. Buyers and sellers will find the liquidity they’re looking for to transact safe advertising deals in mobile, just like they do in online display.
Apple has several sizes and shapes in their line of computers and iPods, but only one size and shape to their phone. Sure, you can get 3G or 3GS with a variety of storage onboard, but the device itself comes with the same processor, same graphics, same screen size, same camera, same ins and outs.
This same-ness has eased developer adoption to be sure. Having a single device to design for means there’s one stream of code, with some tinkering for backward compatibility. It’s also great for the accessory folks. A single physical shape means more consumers available per accessory.
There might be a problem with such a robust device running the iPhone OS. Folks who’ve purchased an iPad might not need the next iPhone. The iPad runs almost all the apps that the iPhone runs, and with the larger screen the apps are often far better. Owning an iPad means that users, like myself, could actually get by with a cheaper, run-of-the-mill mobile phone. Read more