The mobile ad space gets more and more interesting. Reports indicate that LinkedIn will be launching mobile advertisements as early as March, based on a statement by CEO Jeff Weiner during its quarterly earnings call that there are plans to monetize page views in “the mobile environment.” How much, if any, of that will be semantic-influenced is unknown, though it’s worth noting that LinkedIn has discussed its use of microformats in the past, such as hCard and hResume, and offered that it would be experimenting with RDF and FoaF.
And Facebook is hip to being in the mobile ad mix, too, acknowledging amid the IPO flurry that a weakness it had was monetizing its mobile user base. The Financial Times reported that it’s been in discussion with ad agencies about displaying sponsored “featured stories” in mobile users’ news feeds as well as to desktop users (see more about that and its intersection with the Open Graph protocol here).
Clearly, mobility matters to online advertising, and to semantically-minded players in the market. NetSeer has been on that bandwagon, for example, mobilizing its concept-based advertising through its relationship with Mobile Theory. Our friends in the Nordic region also have the semantic targeting capabilities that come along with ad serving technology from Emediate, an independent company that’s owned by ad pepper media International and provides web publishers with a system for managing, targeting and forecasting digital ads, including in the mobile space.
Now there’s news today from Twelvefold Media (formerly BuzzLogic) about the launch of Spectrum for Mobile, which takes its online targeting capabilities to the iOS and Android platforms. Spectrum is the company’s system for providing in real-time emotive-based ads by analyzing and understanding the content on individual pages (for further insight into how it works, see this story).
Mobility Moves Up
The company, says Julia Briggs Parsons, VP, products, is focused on trying to understand content and its impact on advertising and connecting with consumers better than anyone, across all platform venues. With mobile device usage increasing so much – she cites comScore statistics showing that 53 percent of people now browse web content on mobile devices, and that three out of five tablet owners use those devices to get their news – “we have to focus there. We want to understand all forms of content and consumption and the opportunity of placing an ad in those environments. Ultimately we want to be able to target ads to content that drive actions for advertisers and clients, regardless of the content type and platform.”
In terms of furthering that goal, Twelvefold in the next couple of weeks expects to launch its next mobile-focused initiative: It’s planning to have a solution to serve ads to users as they create or read Twitter content on mobile devices in the environment where they consume that information, which often translates to a third-party application. “We kind of jumped direct to mobile for that because of the level of usage, of interacting with Twitter through third-party applications, and a lot of that happens on mobile devices,” she says.
Briggs Parsons says it’s still something of a wild west world when it comes to mobile advertising, and the good news is that means there’s an opportunity for anyone to create value in that space. Not having to build that value on top of a cookie-approach – especially given the regular dust-ups over privacy issues, cookie-related or not – is a plus, she says. “We launched this part of our business, Spectrum, at a time where we could see where these privacy concerns were going. We had an opportunity to build an entire system on top of a requirement of not using cookies…. You don’t need all that private information to be effective. If you just take a stance of how to solve this without using private data, you get to an answer and can build a product quite different from how everyone else is thinking,” she says.
With Spectrum for Mobile, Twelvefold had to consider issues around what ad sizes to call for on the various platforms it supports – for example, ad size even has to be optimized across platforms that share the same OS, like the iPad and the iPhone. Briggs Parsons says it wouldn’t be that complicated to bring this to Windows 7 and RIM platforms, but the impression volume there right now is too low to focus on. “If either becomes relevant going forward, I think it would be Windows 7. Windows 7 has beautiful layouts for ads but there’s not as much adoption,” she says. That said, Microsoft “is being aggressive about being setup well in public and private exchanges, so it will be easy to integrate when we see the volume there.”