DM: So give us the low-down on Theorem please Marcus.
MH: Sure, we were founded in 2002 as a media operations company, offering outsourcing solutions to publishers, agencies networks and digital marketers in the fields of trafficking, campaign reporting, email search and analytics.
We work with digital marketers to help them deliver the operational component of their business. By outsourcing the labour intensive work, they can scale their operations more quickly and cut their overheads. And because we are doing this for many different clients, we understand the proprietary ad serving systems and publishing systems. Over the past 10 years, we have worked with over 300 leading global digital marketers.
DM: And where does mobile fit into this?
MH: In 2008, we launched Theorem Creations, which is entirely focused on online media creative production for mobile. I have been running the UK office since 2008. Initially, I was talking to digital marketers about outsourcing support. Now, it’s much more around supporting new and existing clients on creative production services for ads for Tablets and mobile devices.
We offer mobile ad development, including rich media creative, and landing page design, across all mobile platforms, and for mobile web and in-app advertising. We work with creative agencies, networks and publishers to build mobile display banners that work. Most of our work comes through rich media vendors, companies like Celtra and Medialets. They work with us to help build client creative in their platforms.
We also work directly with publishers and agencies when the build is being done in house. Incisive Media use our production team to help them build rich media ad units that the sales team go and out and sell to the advertisers. Because building the ad units is not their core focus.
DM: This seems to be a growing trend, the development of specialist agencies dedicated to mobile advertising creative.
MH: I guess so. As I say, we have been doing this for a good few years now. The bottom line is that the ad-building part is the process that is given least consideration within mobile advertising. How do we create a rich user experience and engagement, it’s the final piece no one thinks about.
What is state of the art and what is round the corner? Brands are becoming storytellers, and mobile is the next way of doing it. The biggest way brands are able to have conversations today is through mobile and through rich media, and we see four reasons why this has happened.
The first is penetration – there are16m iOS and Android handsets in the UK, so the market penetration is there. Second is the associated download speeds and network coverage to enable rich media ads to be served. Third is the technology, the touchscreen devices that enable brands to have these kinds of conversations. And finally, lifestyle – mobile is such a personal medium, the device is with the consumer every hour of the day.
Then there is also the social media element that is always in the background around that conversation. Within a lot of the ads we build in social media – Twitter feeds, sharing and commenting, Facebook conversations.
DM: So who is advertising in mobile channel. Are more mainstream brands starting to use it?
MH: Definitely. We have seen the number of mainstream brands using mobile double over the last 12 months. There is continuity now between TV ads - brands realise that, because of the four factors I mentioned earlier, they can supplement their TV advertising through mobile and get brand uplift and a consistency of messaging across TV and mobile.
DM: And do any particular verticals stand out?
MH: I would say that travel, entertainment and automotive brands seem to be driving the majority of ads. 80 per cent of our ads are iOS, 20 per cent are Android, and of the iOS ads, 75 per cent are iPhone and 25 per cent iPad.
DM: And what about the ad formats?
MH: A lot of rich media technologies are driving the ad formats. Different providers have different formats. The banner has been the most common ad unit, but people are trying to get media firsts – expandable interstitials, full page/half page overlays, expandable video ads, and within that expandable in-app ads.
This is good, but it does create a problem in terms of skillsets, because of all these different rich media ad units and the skills needed to build them. There is a need to standardise ad formats in order to make the production process easier and bring down prices.
DM: And finally, what else is needed to get those brands who are not yet convinced about mobile using it?
MH: I think tracking and measurement are key, and things will kick on again when this gets more sophisticated. Don’t ask me how it will work, but when it happens, brands will spend more money and with more network transparency, once brands are happy that they know their ads are appearing in the right environment, then we will see more brand money coming into the industry.
Marcus Harding is EMEA business development director at Theorem