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It’s a wrap—another Postback has come and gone. Late last month, over 900 people attended TUNE’s annual event that brings folks from the mobile advertising and performance advertising space together to discuss insights and trends. This year, Phunware took part in the main event with our VP Jon Hook sitting in on the “Mobile Performance Secrets Revealed” panel. We caught up with him post-event to get his takeaways. Here’s what he had to say:

Everyone Wants Differentiation.

Advertisers are looking for differentiation from their partners in the form of creative executions and the use of data to achieve KPIs more effectively. The reality, however, is that differentiation is hard to deliver.

Robert Duffy, VP of Mobile App Strategy and Engineering at Time Inc., talked about the challenge of balancing the competing needs of standardization and innovation. He cited advertisers’ demand for native content, which by definition happens at the application level. But advertisers also demand scale for their campaigns—and the result is content and creative that aren’t truly native. A desktop ad format placed in a mobile feed does not a native ad make.

And Transparency.

There’s a cry for greater trust and transparency across the mobile performance ecosystem. Advertisers want to be able to trust their advertising partners more, as evidenced by the well-documented viewability debate.

At Postback, however, there was a lot of conversation around the need for trust in the other direction—from advertisers. For example, what transparency will an advertiser give a network? Will the advertiser share install data for partners to optimize against? How can the advertiser provide insights from their end to allow a partner to optimize and deliver high lifetime value (LTV) users to their app?

Cultural factors and the type of advertiser seem to determine what data (if any) is passed back to a partner. For example, advertisers in India and China tend to be more conservative and won’t pass post-install metrics back to their partners. Without these metrics, it’s hard for partners to optimize campaigns for the users who are most likely to engage long-term and/or make in-app purchases.

On the other hand, mobile-first businesses (particularly top game developers) are quicker to understand the value of this data pass back, while traditional brick-and-mortar businesses are still building the infrastructure and teams to understand (1) why they should be data passing back, and (2) whether they have the technology to do so. In the end, we all want to drive more revenue and better margins—and increased transparency from both sides is vital for achieving those goals.

And Meaningful Measurement.

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Another Postback ’15 takeaway was that for brands to optimize campaigns effectively, they must value quality, not quantity. That means optimizing for engagement and revenue, not the number of installs a campaign generates.

The same goes for publishers: look at revenue generated, not just eCPM. For example, game giant Zynga uses TUNE to establish each of its game titles as a publisher in its own right, and then to understand how each game audience behaves and what they want. Although both fall under “gaming,” the Words with Friends audience is not the same as FarmVille’s. One responds better to house ads (ads for other Zynga titles), while the other responds better to ads from third-party advertisers.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Forget Mobile Advertising Context.

The importance of context in mobile is not a new topic. But Postback put a new spin on it: what a business thinks is the right moment to engage may not be the right moment for the consumer. As the Macy’s CPO said at Postback, this boils down to a simple rule: Don’t surprise the consumer.

What does this mean in practice? For one, it’s more effective to engage already-active users than to surprise new users with messaging that may or may not resonate. Too often, brands’ default goal is user acquisition—finding and attracting new users. But a resounding theme from the Postback ’15 speakers was that brands should focus more heavily on their existing user base, specifically their most active users. More often than not, those active users are the most valuable, in terms of both revenue and brand advocacy.

Ultimately, we are all just trying to deliver an app or a piece of content to a user in the most cost-effective way for the best possible return. But as soon as a campaign is labeled “premium,” we measure it by exposure (CPM), not efficacy (CPI). Conversely, rich media builds are perceived to be expensive, unnecessary luxuries for performance advertisers.

Jon’s takeaway from Postback ’15 was that maybe “performance” and “premium” aren’t so different after all. The key is to focus on your mobile ad campaign objectives and look at the audience data you do have. Work backwards from there, instead of making your starting point “This is a brand campaign and therefore we will run on CPM and on these particular sites.” It’s time to forget about the labels and focus on the goal.

Matt Chin
Matt is the Director, Partnerships & Marketing Strategy at Phunware, Inc. He has spent several years on the agency-side (Universal McCann) and publisher-side (AdColony / Opera Mediaworks and now Phunware) leading various initiatives in marketing, sales and creative. He is a huge fan of everything tech, advertising and mobile. Follow him on Twitter at @MattChinni.
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