Q&A Andrew Sharland Fresh8 Gaming, On The Future Of Mobile Advertising

Q&A Andrew Sharland Fresh8 Gaming, On The Future Of Mobile Advertising

Mobile is the lead channel for sports betting operators, but how is mobile advertising adapting to the demands of this new generation of bettor. We discussed the mobile future with Andrew Sharland.

Published 23rd August 2015

Gamification, personalisation, engagement... why are these themes or elements becoming so integral to the future of digital (and mobile) marketing?

I think marketers have always strived for engagement and personalisation in their marketing efforts but the mechanics and technical capability to enable true one to one communication has historically been the part that’s missing. Computational power and data processing have come along way in the last two years and you’re seeing first mover executions hitting the mainstream.

The major challenge for marketers is making personalisation scalable – programmatic ad buying (or real time bidding) allows for that, at least in theory. Ad retargeting is probably the most recognised way of personalising ads at an impression level, but it’s only scratching the surface. In-app push messaging is another, but the next problem will be having multiple CRM messaging platforms catering for different platforms.

Consumers have become very good at recognizing and disregarding typical ad formats. How does mobile and in-app advertising/marketing need to evolve to overcome this studied indifference on part of the consumer?

Consumers are excellent at disregarding messaging that means nothing to them. They’re spoilt for choice. Less important for me is the type of format (video, banner, native etc.), but the actual personalisation of the message that goes into that format.

Mobile very much brings this into the spotlight. For example, native advertising is getting a lot of attention right now from content marketers, but it doesn’t really get to the core of the problem in addressing how technology can generate and stimulate a user’s interest. It tricks the user in my mind.

The beauty of mobile and the benefits of what it can bring marketers is the closeness of a user to their device. If it’s not in their hand, its in their pocket – so as a marketer you are as close to the user as you can possibly get. If you get the messaging truly personalised, you have amazing opportunities to build transactional relationships with new and existing customers.

Native advertising is getting a lot of attention right now from content marketers, but it doesn’t really get to the core of the problem in addressing how technology can generate and stimulate a user’s interest.

Broadly speaking, if you can create experiences that emphasise utility over spammy messaging, they won’t see it as an ad passé, they’ll view your messaging as a service. Let me give you an example. Say as an operator, I know that one of my customers regularly bets on Arsenal, their favourite market is the final score market and high propensity to place his bet on a Saturday morning on his Android device, our platform identifies this and makes it actionable. We’ll push dynamically built adverts to them (as the user browse the web), promoting Arsenal to Beat Man City 2-1. His propensity to respond to that message will be high.

As a marketer, you’d be able to record the fact that the user either viewed or clicked on your message and you can attribute that marketing spend to the bottom line. Now imagine being able to market to your entire customer base in this manner, across any device, across any website. That’s the granularity and segmentation that next-gen marketing platforms can bring.

The shift from banners to video is seen by many as essential to ensure the continued growth of the mobile ad channel, but how realistically close is this transition, given mobile users’ expectations of speed, convenience and instant access?

I totally disagree. Again, if you can’t make the message relevant to that individual user, why should they engage with it? Video absolutely has a place in the marketing mix, but I think users are tiring of pre-rolls.

The format is a secondary concern in my mind, the message you put in the format is the key. There are significant technology problems we are solving around how to build dynamic messaging into mobile ad formats. If you look at the current mobile banner formats, they’re essentially just static GIF files. Video makes this problem even more challenging. We’ve made big advances in solving some of the inherent technology barriers for our partners.

Does the long-running debate over the merits of HTML5 vs native apps still have any relevance when it comes to deciding the effectiveness of mobile advertising, or have technical developments now rendered this redundant?

I think its fairly well known now that native technologies are the better solution if you want to provide premium experience. So if you have a technology that justifies the expense of multiple technologies to cater for Android/IOS/Windows etc, you absolutely should go native.

As a digital advertising company, one of our big considerations is scalability, quality of experience and flexibility. HTML and soon Web GL technologies provide us with all of that.

Which new, emerging or forthcoming innovations do you see as having the most potential for disruption when it come to mobile advertising/marketing in the iGaming space?

I’m really interested in how our partners can use next gen platforms such as ours for hyper location mobile marketing and the myriad of opportunities this will bring. It’s quite an interesting prospect that marketers can target customers literally whilst they are in their competitors’ retail stores.

Or being able to push messaging out to mobile users they’re attending a racing event. It’s this kind of granularity that excites me, that massive understanding of where that consumer is in their buying cycle and the ability to be able to communicate to that individual user with the right message. There is lots of clever technology that we are getting talking to each other to create this impact. Connecting these components is exciting for us as a business.

If Apple put up a walled advertising garden, advertisers will have to user their tools because the market share of iOS is so high. But massive land movements like this also bring opportunities for entrepreneurs.

How do you see Google stepping up its prioritisation of mobile sites that display well on mobile devices (Mobilegeddon) impacting how mobile advertising/marketing is delivered in the iGaming space?

It brings massive opportunities for the smart affiliates out there. Something that is often overlooked is how affiliates and publishers can integrate their content offerings with operators’ platforms. I think it’s fair to say that the industry hasn’t gone far enough in empowering third parties to create more meaningful integrations.

You have a few operators who have APIs, but it’s often a dead end when trying to get an operator to provide such tools (to the annoyance of both parties!). The good news is that operators’ mobile interfaces can be far easier integrated into a publisher’s content experience, as you can use things like their registration /deposit pages and their bet pages without asking the user to leave the application they are in. That’s great opportunity for all parties.

Going forward, how big a problem do you see ad-blocking apps becoming for mobile advertising/ marketing in the iGaming industry, and how can operators protect themselves?

It could be a big problem for all advertisers, not just iGaming companies! I’m of the opinion that if Apple do go down this route, it will only be a short-term thing. Privacy and access to users’ anonymised data is the key thing they are trying to protect. If Apple put up a walled advertising garden, advertisers will have to user their tools because the market share of IOS is so high. But massive land movements like this also bring opportunities for entrepreneurs, so I can see being overcome with time.

Crystal-ball gazing for a moment, In which fundamental ways do you see mobile marketing/advertising changing in five years’ time?

I’m of the belief that gambling companies are not the traditional digital advertiser – they’re so massively focused on ROI when you compare them to a brand advertisers in other verticals. A brand like L’Oreal, for example, is heavily focused on getting massive access to eyeballs in the hope they see sales in their retail partners sites down the line. As they don’t control the transaction endpoint in many cases, there’s a lag between advertising, seeing the results and being able to apportion the attribution.

Gaming operators are in an amazing position in that they are able to see the impact of their advertising efforts in (almost) real time. They control the platform where their customers transact. This is why I think iGaming companies have one of the biggest opportunities to take advantage of the age of personalisation. They’ll be able to measure it and react to it far quicker than other verticals. And to come back to your question, that activity is going to mostly be on a mobile device, whatever that may look like in five years’ time.

 

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