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Targeting and Optimizing:
The Power of Mobile

Interview with Mark Slade
Managing Director, 4th Screen Advertising


mark slade

4th Screen Advertising is a leading mobile agency in the UK, responsible for many successful mobile campaigns. In this interview, we talk with Mark Slade, MD of 4th Screen, about the ways his company has learned to make mobile campaigns more effective.





Mark gave a presentation recently at the IAB “Engage4Mobile” conference. If you would like a copy of his presentation, please enter your email address here:



and company name here:








Hi Mark, can you first give us a quick overview of 4th Screen Advertising.

We have 3 main areas of activity. We represent a number of on-portal and off-portal mobile sites – including O2, Tesco Mobile, ITV, Teletext, and Metro, and one of our main businesses is selling advertising for their inventory.

Secondly, we have developed our own ad serving engine call Mpression that is optimized for advanced targeting, campaign management, and online reporting of mobile campaigns.

Finally, we have a creative team that can put together the campaigns, banners, and landing pages for the advertisers. We found this is necessary because many brands and agencies still do not have the right creative resources for mobile. So it’s a “one-stop shop” where an advertiser can get a bespoke campaign and media plan to help them reach the relevant audience at the relevant time.

Based on your experience with creating and running mobile campaigns, what do you believe are the key aspects of mobile that make it a powerful part of the media mix.

One way to think about this is to say what can mobile do that online cannot, because at the moment they are usually both coming from the same “digital budget”. Most of the formats are similar between the two – you can show banners, you can collect information, you can run pre-roll video. And in terms of reach, at the moment mobile is nowhere near that of online.

However, for me, the big thing is the targeting, and I get quite passionate about it! You can target people on the move, target them based on what handset they have, target them based on their behavior, etc. This is what makes mobile unique from a communication perspective.

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So let’s talk about these various types of targeting. Tell me about “Behavioral Targeting”.

This is where you target consumers based on their previous behavior.

For example, we represent O2′s advertising inventory, and one unique thing they offer is that we can target based on a consumer’s browsing habits, purchase history on the portal, etc. So for example, we could run ads for a gaming company such as EA or Namco, and only show them to people who regularly buy mobile games.

Another example is sports fans. We can tell if a consumer regularly looks at sports content, and this allows us to put sport related ads on the homepage for them. This is important because if you only put the ads on the deeper sports “content pages”, the CTR is not as high (we’ve found that when consumers are reading the deeper pages, they are more focused on the content and less likely to click on ads).

This kind of targeting makes campaigns more effective, and that’s what we’re here for. Here is an example for Nivea beauty products. We only showed this ad to consumers that we knew had visited the style or entertainment content areas of the portal.

Banner ad, Landing page, and
Entry form for Nivea campaign
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You’ve used another interesting term “Commuter Targeting”, how does that work?

On a lot of the portals we represent, we see a huge spike in traffic just around commute time, where subscribers are accessing the mobile internet on the move. These people tend to fit a certain demographic – employed, urban – and advertisers have tried to reach this audience with ads on buses or in the metro. Mobile is another way to reach them but with an interactive environment.

As an example, Pathe released the film “Eastern Promises” which was targeted at an urban audience. So we ran the mobile ads at commute time to make them as effective as possible.

Banner ad and Landing page
for Eastern Promises film
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Handset targeting is something that many people mention. How does this work?

Its not really an exact science, but you can ascertain a demographic profile of a consumer based on what handset they have. And once the campaign is running, you can continually see which handsets are doing the best and modify accordingly. So you build up a base of experience as to which types of ads will do best on which types of phones.

Can you give us some examples?

One example would be 3G capable phones. If a consumer has got the latest gadget that costs £200 ($400), and they are using 3G services, they tend to be an early adopter. This is one of the media buying parameters that agencies are looking for, especially for financial brands or automotive brands. We’ve used this for example with a campaign for Citroen.

Another example are the mobile handset manufacturers. Many of them are moving to mobile advertising because they can target specific ads to their existing customers. If they ran similar ads on the internet, the the effect would be diluted, because they wouldn’t know whether the consumer was one of their customers or not.

What’s your view of location based targeting?

I think this is an element that will open up a whole wealth of opportunities for mobile advertising, and will generate some really big campaigns. But its not quite there yet in my view for a couple of reasons.

I don’t believe any of the ad serving applications in the UK are integrated into the location look ups of the operators, though it is on their road maps.

Also the cost per location look up tends to be about £0.05 to £0.10 ($0.10 to $0.20), which can be more than the ad itself.

Finally the current response time of about 4 seconds to get a location look up is too slow for effectively serving ads if you are trying to get any kind of scale.

You’ve said that in addition to targeting, optimizing is a very important point about mobile. Can you explain this?

Once you have a campaign running, you need to start tweaking it. With mobile you can monitor many aspects of the campaign to see what is performing best, in terms of:

– what sites are working best,4th_quote_155.gif
– which content areas of the sites,
– which handsets,
– what time of day,
– what day of week,
– which creative execution,
– which operator network

Once you see what works best, you can start moving the budget accordingly.

The key thing is not to wait, but to start right away and view it as an on-going process. In fact, the campaign management team in our company spend only 10% of their time loading up campaigns, and 90% of their time optimizing them.

My final question is what do you think is in store for the mobile advertising industry in 2008?

4th_mark_slade.jpgI think you will see a number of things happen.

In general we’ll see the campaign budgets grow, though I think the spring will continue to be primarily “trial” size projects, with larger mainstream projects set for the second half of the year.

Secondly, I hope that the various trade organizations will increase their efforts to bring advertisers and agencies on board by providing information and perhaps putting together some cross operator data about brand impact.

Finally, from a creative viewpoint, I think we should start seeing more viral advertising on mobile. It is very popular online, but not yet on mobile. There is some great creative, and it could be a great opportunity for advertisers as they would get distribution for free without paying any media costs.

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[ by Jim Cook, Editor, MobiAD News ]


10.01.2008   
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