Ad4Screen: Mobile Programmatic Deconstructed

Nov 20, 2015
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Today we inaugurate a new segment on programmatic advertising. Adtech is evolving, and the generation post-Criteo is eager to conquer their share of the market. The first stop on our journey is Ad4screen, a pioneer of Mobile marketing and advertisement. Founded in 2010, the company has raised $10 Million dollars so far, and it’s growing steadily, expanding its workforce and opening up an office on the other side of the Channel.

This article is the result of an open discussion with Philippe Leclerq, Managing Director and Co-founder of Ad4screen, on challenges, different markets, cross-device and AdTech constantly changing environment.

What’s Ad4Screen and how do you position yourself in the AdTech business?

We built Ad4screen 5years ago, reaching a staff of 50 people and with an office in Paris & London. Currently, we are working with more than 100 clients in 4 different countries.
We tend to define ourselves as mobile audience experts and by audience we imply both acquisition and retention because we truly believe that when it comes to mobile marketing it’s a continuum. By mobile, we mean smartphone and tablets as well as mobile apps and websites. It’s important to specify it, in fact, the biggest challenge when you enter the mobile space is that you have to pay attention to all those differences. Instead when you advertise on the general web, you don’t care if it’s Chrome or Firefox but on mobile it’s important to know whether the device is iOS, Android or Windows.

Our clients can be divided into 3 main areas: media and publishing, travel and retailers and e-merchants. These 3 areas account for more than 50% of our revenues. Why? Because these sectors have no other option than properly manage mobile marketing.
For those players, if you look at the percentage of traffic coming from mobile devices, depending on countries, let’s say we focus on France, it’s going to vary from 25 to 50%. Therefore, they don’t have any other options. When you look at other business sectors, like financial services, they are already late when it comes to digital, so they tend to be even later when it comes to digital marketing. Surely, you have some players that are quite aggressive but not as a whole.

First and foremost, it’s important for the companies to understand the market. You have two types of mobile assets: mobile website and mobile apps. Mobile websites are the best prospect for a company, but app users are the best clients.
When you look at the way people use a browser, it’s mainly cold-hearted. It’s has everything to do with an immediate need, either you already know where you want to go so you type the direction or specific keyword on Google, or you click on something you have received( email or message). In any case, they will end up to a mobile website because they have a need to be addressed right away. Indeed, usual surfing time on mobile is between 5 to 7 minute per session but repeated around 30 times a day, instead with computers it increases up to 15-20 minutes fewer times a day, therefore, on mobile you have much less time to capture your audience.
As said, the customer has a need to be addressed immediately and, if not answered properly, due to badly designed assets or long loading time, he will switch to a competitor.

Researchers show that almost 50% of people that end up on a website that is not properly designed or that is not loading fast enough, they not only stop to use the site question, but they switch to the competition. Amazon found that 100ms of latency cost them 1% in sales. On the other end, if you look at mobile apps, users don’t download many and even among the they downloaded, they tend to use only 10-15 of them on a monthly basis.
Apps are like a Gilded Cage. If you look at the app that the users download. Usually they have one they use all the time, and unlike what goes on the web where Google shows the way, when it comes to app, once the user has decided he wants to use a particular app he will not change it, he will not be willing to switch, making him more and more loyal and giving the advertisers more opportunities to suggest him a service or a product.
Of course, this process has been proved through data mining. At Ad4Screen, we analyzed the value of a client who is an app user compared to the value of any other client.
We have realized that by downloading the app, the value of the customer increases by 60%, and it’s directly linked to the 60%+ increase in the frequency of users. The more users will use the app the more business a company will have.

Let’s not forget that when it comes to app marketing, acquisition and retention tend to be more strongly linked.
When you want to download an app you look at the reviews. When you run acquisition campaigns if the app is ranked with a 2.5 star, the acquisition ratio will be divided by 2 compared to an app reviewed with 4.5-5 stars. In that sense, having qualitative assets, having good retention, good reviews, strongly matters on the acquisition side, as well as rankings. You might download an app just because you saw it in the top 25 category. The ranking on Apple and Google is based on the velocity with which you drive new downloads on a daily basis and on the value of those downloads. For instance, the extent to which the users keep your app for more than a month, the value of your app rent, the number of reviews. Good retention is going to help you improve your rankings, gain extra visibility and so new downloads you won’t need to pay for. That’s why we tend to say that we are 100% mobile but we are strongly audience oriented overall.
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How is the programmatic landscape changing?

If you look at the French Market, you have to big challenges for the market as a whole.

  1. Cookies just don’t work when it comes to apps, they work not very well on mobile websites, but due to ad-blocking they tend to get erased directly. Most of programmatic is cookie based, for players coming from the web this is a strong issue.
  2. On the branding side of things, companies have access to tons of opportunities especially with HDF5, we can build strongly engaging formats. Therefore, it constitutes more an opportunity than a challenge. When it comes to traffic generation, a programmatic issue is that what starts on the mobile web can be finalized somewhere else. If you want to buy a particular jersey, you will probably look it up on the online store but you will end up buying it in a shop. In this sense, programmatic has the challenge to identify the customer journey. Digital players used to reason with a per device transformation rate. For example “ if I invest 1 euro on PC, it will bring me back 250 pay per click but if I invest 1 euro on mobile, I will only get 125.” Transformation rate seems divided by 2, but it’s a biased vision of the world. Again, through data mining, we have proven that 50% of any actions that started on mobile is finished somewhere else. In a different way, if you wish to buy a t-shirt on Amazon, you will probably look it up on your phone, add it to your cart but then proceed with the order on a computer. In this sense, advertisers need to have a cross-device vision.

What are Ad4Screen challenges at the moment?

The environment is constantly changing, so we always need to adapt to the global environment, for example, iOS 9 was just released, and our tech department worked on it to make sure that we can do the same things we used to be able to do on iOS 8 on this new version.
Talking generally, I believe app retargeting would be the challenge of programmatic in 2016.
For these reasons, we are always working on our DSP(demand-side platform). If you look at how retargeting works on PC, first of all, you need to identify the right people you want to address and cookies don’t work so, again, you need to connect to any tracking solution or software that can provide you with the right data and then connect with the right mobile exchanges. For example, I’m a strong user of Boom Beach, so if you want to target me, you need to do it through boom beach that is 100% mobile. We are constantly working on the format, mobile-specific, and at the of the day remind our clients that they need to build their app in a way that their users can come back at the right date, through deep linking, Url schemes, etc. We are constantly working on all those steps and obviously the second biggest challenge would be integration and interconnection with ad exchanges, there is new one every 2 days, and also data creation and algorithms.

You have recently opened an office in London, how are the UK and FR markets different?

In the UK, you don’t have much pedagogy to do. When we built Ad4Screen we had a vision that mobile was going to be huge regarding traffic and that advertisers would need to go where the audience was, so the questions  were:  “how to get there?”, “ what kind of mobile assets do we need to build?”, “how can we promote them?”, “ how can we make sure users come back to keep mobile communication” and then “how can we link this to any digital or offline asset that we have.” Following these questions and their order, I would say that in France we are still in the “how to get there”phase, while in the UK we are more in the phase where they need to figure out how the users can come back, and we are working on how to link them with the other digital assets we have and what are the communications we can run. The British market is more mature. We definitely have a different approach in the two countries.

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