Preethy Vaidyanathan, SVP of product management for Medialets, talks with AAM about why mobile transparency is the next big thing in media.
AAM: Of all the issues facing the media industry, is there one that is top of mind for Medialets?
Preethy Vaidyanathan: Counting in mobile is critical for us. If you think about the desktop experience, people are stationary, and there is reasonable connectivity. But if you think about the mobile experience, you’re on the move, switching between cell towers, between 4G and wireless. There are different issues for counting impressions in mobile than in desktop, so we work to ensure there is mobile media transparency.
AAM: Medialets has the first MRC-accredited platform for mobile display ad impressions and click measurement. Why was an accreditation important for Medialets?
PV: Looking at it a step back from a business model perspective, if you ask any marketer to run a desktop campaign without an ad server, they would say of course not. In mobile, the majority of campaigns are still using site served. Going back 15 years, that’s how desktop started: site served. We knew that was the same milestone we needed to get through. When we were going to market, we needed to check all the boxes to differentiate from a product perspective. Accreditation was one of them.
AAM: How has accreditation helped Medialets address some of those main issues?
PV: It definitely helps the business. We needed to be able to talk about why mobile measurement is different and what the value is for the client. If you look at the checkboxes on desktop, you need a dedicated ad server to track dedicated desktop spend, you need to be accredited by a neutral third party and you need to track in-depth ROI. Marketing is all about outcomes. Is the measurement correct? Is it accurate? Do I trust the investment?
Those are key things marketers are doing for digital on desktop, and that’s what we’ve done on mobile. We work with organizations like the MRC and IAB and AAM to help set standards and educate the industry. We were the only accredited mobile vendor for over two years. We want to see more vendors become accredited because it helps educate the industry.
AAM: What are some of the other differences between desktop and mobile?
PV: Mobile is very different from desktop—just look at the underlying foundational technology. In desktop, cookies are everywhere. You can use one form of tracking as the base for your complete foundational tracking methodology. That’s just not the case in mobile.
Consumer behavior is drastically different. Think about the desktop experience. Consumers go to the browser for everything. Mobile has two different environments: in-app and mobile web. Consumers spend the majority of their time on mobile apps, but the common foundation we have for desktop—cookies—doesn’t work on apps.
AAM: What does that mean for the future of media measurement?
PV: There’s no golden ticket in mobile. The world is shifting. Soon you’ll have advertising on your refrigerator, on your watch, in your car, on your connected TV. On every one of them, cookies won’t be the default. They will have their own connected ID.
The conversion event that the marketer wants—download of their app, sign up for a credit card, filling out a form, a mobile purchase—is what matters. Because of our comprehensive approach, it doesn’t matter where the conversion event is—app to app, web to app, app to web and web to web—we can track it. Consumers still engage with ads, and there is value in interaction. Mobile return on ad spend is strong, and we can help showcase true ROI in every single interaction.
AAM: What steps do you think the industry can take to build more transparency between marketers, agencies, technologies and publishers?
PV: From the marketer perspective, two things will help. The first is look at where fraud is. If you look at the consumer journey as a funnel, impressions and clicks are two big fraud areas, and that’s at the top of the funnel. The second is to look at more outcome based metrics. The farther down the funnel you go, you have more outcome-based measurements like conversion and brand lift. It’s much harder for a fraudster to duplicate someone purchasing something. The more we create products and services to have marketers optimize their campaigns based on these outcome-based measurements, the healthier the ecosystem will be.
We also need to measure properly on mobile. The MRC has desktop viewability standards but not mobile. The MRC released an addendum in the fall that says every digital measurement system needs to eliminate fraud first before doing viewability measurements. We have been doing that for two years, but the MRC made that a policy across every accredited vendor. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you need to eliminate invalid traffic first.
At Medialets, we want to close that mobile ad spend gap. As more brands get comfortable with mobile measurement and see the true ROI, we know the spend will follow, so we want to be on leading edge.