Friday, November 16, 2007

M:Metrics Introduces Mobile Ad-Tracking Service

MOBILE RESEARCH FIRM M:METRICS HAS launched a new ad-tracking service that will provide information on mobile advertisers by industry, company and product or service category.

As the first third-party service of its kind for mobile media, M:AdTracker will initially only monitor display ads on the mobile Web as well as on carrier networks. By next year, the service is expected to also track mobile text and search ads, as well as metrics for ad impressions, click-through rates and ad-spending estimates.

While no specific data has yet been released, early findings indicate that big-name marketers are already migrating to mobile screens. "That is pleasing to see, just in terms of the pedigree of advertisers and the volume of advertising," says M:Metrics CEO Will Hodgman. "Mobile is showing a speed of adoption that we've just come to appreciate on the Internet."

He explained that more than a dozen Fortune 100 companies are advertising on mobile, with the largest share coming from media companies promoting Web sites, TV shows, movies and books. Advertiser categories such as autos, financial services, and travel, already prevalent online, are now going mobile too.

"To me that says credibility," says Hodgman, who previously founded Internet ad measurement company AdRelevance. "This is a medium that's already being considered seriously as an ad opportunity."

To date, most marketers have only dabbled in mobile advertising. Opus Research recently estimated that combined mobile advertising for North America and Europe will amount to only $106.8 million by the end of 2007. But it predicts that figure will surpass $5 billion by 2012. One of the hurdles for mobile advertising has been the lack of third-party data on mobile advertising that exists for Internet ads.

A service such as M:AdTrack could help to address that need, say mobile analysts. "As mobile marketing grows and matures there will be increasing demand for analytics that track campaigns and their efficacy," says Greg Sterling, founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence. "Mobile marketing will follow the desktop trajectory to some degree."

Tracking mobile advertising won't be as simple as Internet advertising, they say, because of the array of competing carrier networks, mobile devices, and technical standards. Hodgman doesn't disagree, but notes that M:Metrics has been developing methods of tracking mobile content usage and advertising since starting three years ago.

Rather than relying on publisher or advertiser data for ad-tracking, the firm uses an automated system to query roughly a dozen carrier networks to gather ad data from hundreds of mobile sites. "We're a completely objective source because we're not relying on proprietary information from any carriers or ad-serving networks," Hodgman says.

Jeff Janer, the former CMO of mobile ad platform Third Screen Media, says reliable third-party data will be crucial to the growth of mobile advertising. "This is a good first step, but it's still early days, and advertisers and agencies are going to want and need more detailed reporting in order to justify larger mobile ad spending," Janer says.

// by Mark Walsh, Thursday, Nov 15, 2007 7:00 AM ET

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