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Mobile Ad Measurement
Comes of Age

Interview with Paul Goode
Vice President, M:Metrics


paul-125w.gifMeasurement” and “Metrics” are topics that agencies and advertisers discuss frequently, and are often cited as key requirements for the growth of mobile advertising. M:Metrics is a company that is completely focused on this area. In this interview, we speak to Paul Goode, VP of New Products to understand what these services are, what information is available, and what are some of the key trends he sees.


Hello Paul. To start, could you tell us what is the overall company mission for M:Metrics?
We are a mobile media measurement company. Our job is to bring clarity and transparency to what is happening in the world of mobile to enable media owners, advertisers and everyone in the value chain to better exploit mobile as a media channel. We also work with operators and handset manufactures to help them understand strategy, branding and product design.

How has your focus evolved over the 3 years that the company has been around?
Our initial products were focused mostly on usage of mobile content services. We have been evolving to have services that are more specific to supporting advertising. There are things that marketers and advertisers need that handset manufacturers don’t – such as who is advertising what and where. And the understanding of demographics needs to link back into the standard media planning tools that are used for other media.

I know M:Metrics provides a number of different information services. Please take us through the services and tools that M:Metrics offers today.
mmetrics_mobilens.gifThe core service that we have had for the past 3 years is MobiLens. It consists of three parts.

• First, we track all the handsets on the market and all the specific technical capabilities of each.

• Second, we have auditing spider-type tool that tracks all of the content that is available on the operator portals. We know all of the TV packages, the games, are there ring-back packages, the pricing, etc. So we understand what is on offer.

• Once we have these two things, then we run a survey over the internet which tracks who are mobile phone owners, their handsets, their operators, and their consumption and usage of mobile content.

The survey is dynamically generated according to the capabilities of the handset the person has and the services that are offered by their operator.

Which countries to do you cover with MobiLens?
At the moment US, UK, Italy, France, Germany, and Spain. Some others to follow.

We survey about half a million users, the report comes out monthly, and there is also an online interface into the data.

Example of a MobiLens inquiry

mmetrics_new1.gif


What about your service that is based on client software in the handset?

mmetrics_meterdirect.gifThat service is called MeterDirect.

For this we get a group of people – at least 1,000 per country – all smartphone users, and we install software on their handset that tracks their browsing, their messaging, their application usage, and soon we will track multimedia usage.

This information is all downloaded to us on a daily basis – we get to see every URL they have visited, every click path, every text message they have sent. So this doesn’t rely on recall, it is what they are actually doing.

This lets us look at things like session length, frequency, stickiness, all kinds of stuff. This is hugely granular information, on a subset of the browsing population.

How is this information published?
This is a subscription service, and there is an online interface where you can go and examine all the data.

For example, here is a list of the top mobile sites in the UK last month.

metric_chart2.gif

M:Metrics recently made a press release with AdMob about the demographic profile of their audience. What tool do you use to collect this?
mmetrics_maudit.gifThe product is called M:Audit, and it’s a customized, site-centric survey, to enable a site owner to learn more about who is visiting their site.

We put banners on the site, and when a respondent clicks on the banner, we ask them to take a very short survey, using their phone. We collect basic demographics – age, interests, – actually whatever people want.
This provides the site owner with a more detailed understanding of the visitors to their site. This information in turn would let them eliminate ad wastage and increase the value of their ad inventory.

This service can also be used by an ad network. As you mentioned, we worked with AdMob to run this on their inventory of sites all across their network. They had lots of information about usage, this let them define the demographic composition of their network, and therefore do better targeting of advertising.

[see the MobiAD article about AdMob's audience demographics]

Let’s talk about ad tracking – how do you accomplish that?
mmetrics_adtracker.gifJust recently we announced M:AdTracker, a subscription service which looks at the actual ad inventory that is being served on mobile.

We launched this first in the US, but it will be rolling out to other markets over time. We used our Meter:Direct product and our survey to help us define a list of 120 sites to monitor, both on-deck and off-deck. We have a spider that interrogates each site 60 to 70 times a day, with different handsets to see the ads that are served.

The data that is collected about each ad can include the advertiser, the brand name, product name, and the industry sector. For example, this graph shows the number of ad campaigns we tracked in various product categories during the month of November, 2007.

metric_chart4.gif

It is also possible to look at more detail on an individual ad, such as what the landing page it goes to, which ad-serving company served the ad, etc. And the actual ad image is recorded.

Often within a single campaign advertisers need to use multiple ad images to fit different screen sizes. Do you track that?
Yes, using this tool you can see all the different creatives that are being used for a particular ad. Sometimes it’s a lot, for instance look at the Ford example below. These were all part of the same campaign.

mmetrics_adtracker3.gif

What kind of companies do you see using the M:AdTracker service?
Basically, this service has the ability to say who is advertising what, when, and where, so many people will be interested. As an example, an agency or an advertiser can use it see what their competitors are doing. For a media owner it’s basically a sales list of what ads are being served on their domain. We can also track things like where each of the ad serving networks are operating.

Clearly you are now gathering a lot of data about mobile advertising. But one frequent comment from agency people is that mobile advertising is not integrated into their existing planning tools. I understand that M:Metrics is also addressing this issue.
mmetrics_tgi.gifYes, we recently announced that our information will be integrated into TGI, which is the standard for media planning in much of the world. So information about mobile as a media channel will be available on the desktop, in the same tools that media planners currently use to evaluate expenditure of campaigns across the other media channels.

That represents a wide range of services, how would you sum them up?
With MobiLense we help people understand the total market, with Meter:Direct we help people understand frequency and usage stickiness in depth, through Ad Tracker we understand where the ads sit, and then through TGI we help link this into existing planning systems.

From all the data you’ve seen, how would you summarize the state of the mobile advertising industry at the moment?
I think the industry has been successful in building an audience, but the audience is not growing as fast as we hoped. We may have reached a threshold – there is a certain amount of money people are willing to pay for mobile content, and I think we are getting close to the limit of that. So bringing in advertising to help fund that is what the industry is trying to do.

mmetrics_pgoode2.gifThere have been obstacles to achieving this around transparency and measurement. We are trying to remove those obstacles so people can effectively plan, target and track ads, and this will be a more effective medium.

I am very excited about the prospects of mobile advertising, but I am also realistic about the time it will take to put all the pieces in place. There are issues, but the industry is now taking them seriously.




11.12.2007   
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