IAB Defines Mobile as a 'Behavior, Not a Technology'

To get a sense of the biggest issues facing mobile marketers and the trends that are shaping the industry, IAB’s lead mobile evangelist Anna Bager is a great place to start. As the VP and GM of Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, Bager is charged with driving growth in mobile marketing, advertising and the media marketplace. She describes the center as a self-funded mini-IAB within the IAB that is focused on doing for mobile what IAB does for digital.

“Our overall definition of mobile is not about the device,” she told ClickZ in a recent phone interview. “Mobile is a behavior, not a technology. It’s about accessing content wherever you are… It’s really the use that is mobile, not the device.”

The center just released a survey conducted over a two-month period aimed at understanding how consumers interact with small screens to enhance their movie-going experience. Regular moviegoers, those who see a movie at least once a month, are the strongest adopters in every category. It found that 67 percent of regular moviegoers use a mobile device to help them determine which films to see, and they are three times more likely to buy tickets on their mobile devices than infrequent moviegoers.

On-device ticketing is still barely a blip on the radar, according to the survey. Only 5 percent of regular moviegoers, a group representing less than one third of those surveyed, reported using a virtual ticket in the past six months. The survey also found that men (41 percent) are more likely to watch movie trailers on mobile than women (27 percent), and 61 percent of those watched a pre-roll ad so they could watch the trailer. More than one in five reported tuning out once the ad popped up.

IAB’s mobile center is working on certification efforts, research into how consumers engage with mobile in a cross-platform environment and how they react around specific events like the Super Bowl or back-to-school shopping: anything that helps IAB and its partners prove to the buy side that this really works, Bager said. Like the recent survey on film going, the center is working to compare mobile to other platforms and shepherd different forms of metrics to better suit the environment.

“What we really want to create is some kind of universal cookie. I wouldn’t call it a cookie, but some universal way to measure across platform,” she said. “It’s something that we need to work on and find some kind of industry consensus around, but at the same time we don’t want to jeopardize privacy concerns and the consumers’ right to be anonymous if he wants to… I wouldn’t even want to call it a universal cookie, but what’s the next thing?”

Although the center is separately funded by some of IAB’s members, every member of IAB can contribute and participate to the group’s efforts. The center and its members have an interest in local advertising, including geo-fencing, geotargeting, hyper-local advertising and QR codes, Bager said. “Local mobile is huge. Local advertising in the mobile advertising space is highly effective and a great area to focus on because it’s so easy to grasp.”

Bager’s job is part leadership and part educational. She’s also pushing for many brands to just get in gear with mobile. “Most American companies don’t actually have a proper mobile landing page,” she said, for example. “It can’t be pinch and pull, and it should definitely not be Flash.” As such IAB’s membership is keen on “the whole concept of mobile first and responsive design -how you can design websites so that they can work across platforms” Bager said.

The mobile web vs. app debate is one issue she finds herself dealing with a lot less these days. “If anything I don’t really have the conversation much anymore,” she said. “There are still marketers and agencies out there that recommend ‘you’ve got to build an app if you want to be in mobile.’ I don’t think it’s an either/or, I really think it’s about both… Advertising works in both environments.”

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