Year ahead: The top mobile and in-app advertising predictions for 2018

Anne Freier

In Mobile Advertising Blog. December 21, 2017


With 2018 just around the corner, we’ve asked some of the mobile advertising industry’s top executives for their predictions for the year ahead. Everything you need to know, from mobile video to programmatic and mCommerce – here are their personal predictions for all that will be hot in mobile in 2018 (in alphabetic order).
Appnext – Elad Natanson, Founder and CEO

Our industry is in a constant state of change – It is maturing every year and in search of new technologies and understanding of the elusive user behaviour. I think that next year, more companies in our industry will understand that it is much more important to apprehend the users’ timeline throughout the day – What are they doing right now? What are the best moments of the day to offer them the most appropriate services and so on, than going after their profiles and demographics.
I believe it will require more “out of the box” thinking, to provoke the users’ imagination and provide them with a true value, in order to win the battle of app churn and to make users re-engage with our apps.
Another trend we see in Appnext is what we refer to as “Service based Monetization” – It is a means for advertisers to target users based on the services they look for and it is, in my eyes, the future of mobile advertising, where users will be searching for services and not apps.
Next year we will continue witnessing the battle of the (smart) assistants, in which the user experience is still quite fragmented and much is needed to be making it a part of the users’ daily routine but I am positive this will happen. Who will win the love of the users’ in this battle? This is a question we will have to answer next year.
Happy Holidays!
BazaarvoiceSara Spivey, CMO

The mobile shopping experience will continue to be top-of-mind for retailers in 2018 as consumers grow increasingly comfortable shopping and transacting on their devices. This past Black Friday – Cyber Monday weekend, 45% of shopping occurred on mobile devices comprising almost half of sales during this high-traffic shopping period. More innovation in visual commerce is also removing the friction between discovering new products and brands on social media platforms like Instagram, and enabling shoppers to easily find and purchase those products through their devices
Leadbolt – Dale Carr, Founder and CEO

Mobile dominates ad spending
Spending on mobile will continue to surpass online/desktop advertising. Zenith predicts that by 2019, advertisers will spend more on mobile than all traditional media, except television, put together.
With rising competition for app downloads, significant mobile budgets at stake, and massive opportunity within reach, marketers are preparing carefully with longer campaign planning windows, and developing innovative creatives specifically for mobile.
Playables dominate the ad formats
Mobile Playable Ads offer users a chance to experience an advertised game or app through a quick trial before download.  Offering players a no-risk way to test out the goods, ensures a satisfied player from the get-go who is more likely to download and continue to engage with the app long-term. In fact, Leadbolt Playable Ads are outperforming other traditional mobile ad formats, achieving 8X better performance than full-screen interstitials. 2018 brings news ways to further surprise and delight audiences with unexpected playable experiences, for games and other app types.
Partners Unite Against Mobile Ad Fraud
2018 will see advertisers, attribution companies and mobile ad platforms gaining deeper trust and coming together as a community to fight fraud as a united front.  Ad networks thrive based on their ability to deliver value to advertisers in the form of quality users.  Alongside attribution partners they are advertisers’ first defense against mobile ad fraud. Comprehensive vetting practices and proprietary SDKs fostering direct relationships with publishers, as well as advanced fraud prevention and detection practices, are the new table stakes for 2018, no question about it.
Marchex – Guy Weismantel, EVP of Marketing

No doubt that mobile is on the rise. From texting, to shopping, researching and more – mobile devices are an integrated extension of our daily lives. But what does that mean for marketers? Should you be shifting your budget and banking on mobile ads in 2018? Business Insider recently predicted that native display ads will drive 74% of all ad revenue by 2021. While I think mobile is a smart investment, I have a different take on what success looks like in mobile advertising for 2018.
As you know, brands are interacting with customers across an exhausting number of devices and channels; smartphones, digital ads, social media and more. However, what’s often overlooked is how those interactions most often conclude: with a phone call to your business. That’s where call attribution comes in. If brands are not using call attribution to track the transition between online and offline interactions, your business has a big blind spot that’s likely impacting your bottom line.
So, for companies looking to move the needle in 2018, simply dumping money into mobile and in-app advertising isn’t enough. Where are you driving them? What action are you asking them to take? Is the content targeted and personal? Are you connecting those ads to phone calls? Those that are leading the way in the industry will take the extra step to invest in a solution that completes the ‘omnichannel puzzle.’
MobvistaClement Cao, CFO

The most obvious trend for 2018 is that mobile will continue to increase its share of marketing budget from TV, print and outdoor. Allied to that, we see the US and China increasing their dominance both in terms of companies targeting consumers in those markets, and also as the countries where brands and publishers will increase their use of mobile to reach overseas. We also expect to see emerging Chinese companies such as Toutiao launch major campaigns and support their overseas growth.
The use of programmatic advertising will also grow in 2018, shifting into new areas such as video and rewarded advertising. We expect this to also help increase the overall demand for mobile advertising, as the use of programmatic should make mobile advertising cheaper and more accessible than ever.
2017 has been the year where everything about AI and machine learning has become super-hyped. This is likely to continue, with any company with enough resources looking to leverage its customer data in order to make their services even more compelling. The danger will be that things which are not really AI will be marketed as such, which risks a backlash from customers who get caught up in the marketing hype. So the smart companies will be the ones that get the balance right.
Placecast – Alistair Goodman, CEO

Now that mobile advertising has surpassed 50% of digital spend, 2018 will open a variety of new paths:

  1. The mobile industry will agree on standards for verifying location data.

Following in the footsteps of viewability (likely led by the MRC), the industry will embrace the ability to validate the accuracy of data used for location targeting, delivery, and campaign measurement.

  1. A major media U.S. player will be significantly fined for a GDPR mobile data violation.

GDPR doesn’t stand for “Grateful Dread Public Radio.” It’s a new General Data Protection Regulation that goes live in Europe in May 2018, and it will fundamentally change the way marketers work with data. Many US companies are just waking up to the existential impact on their business…and on their bottom line.

  1. Verification will begin to merge with ratings.

Per its normal modus operandi, digital has evolved a different way of assessing whether media bought by advertisers was actually seen or delivered accurately. It’s just like TV ratings–and some brands will begin to recognize that.

  1. Over 50% of large brands will mandate brand safety.

Following P&G’s lead, brand safety will continue to dominate an increasingly large allocation of budgets and only work with partners who can demonstrate that dollars are being spent accurately.
Smaato – Ragnar Kruse, CEO and Co-Founder

As marketers continue to increase their in-app advertising budgets, greater transparency between buyers and sellers is one of the most important topics for the mobile advertising industry in 2018. Mobile players that don’t offer high fraud prevention, traffic quality, ad quality and data protection standards will face heavy pressure to do so, especially in light of the upcoming GDPR. As such, the in-app environment will continue to become more refined, delivering higher value than desktop or mobile web and providing a key trust signal to brand advertisers.
Responsible leaders will come forward to create quality and accountability standards to help reduce fraud and increase transparency. These relationships will be essential for both the health and overall growth of the mobile programmatic advertising industry for many years to come.
Tapjoy – Emily McInerney, VP of Marketing

We expect that a lot of new ad dollars will pour into mobile advertising as brands start to get more comfortable with all the new ways of measuring the effectiveness of their campaigns, by tracking metrics such as post-view conversions, viewability, audability, and more. Their objectives will also begin to shift from simple impression- and click-based campaigns as they look at more down-stream metrics tracking overall sales and brand engagement.  This will let them prove the ROI of their campaigns and commit to investing even more into the channel.
Tipalti Rob Israch, CMO

At Tipalti, we expect mobile and in-app advertising to grow in both volume and complexity, especially the expanded use of international publishers. In 2018, the Google and Facebook duopoly will continue to deepen, requiring networks to differentiate their approach, offer a richer publisher experience, and be more integrated with content. It also means keeping top-tier publishers happy, while continuing to grow the network to cultivate new audiences at scale.
To maintain positive relations with publishers, networks need to incentivize partners with more opportunities to monetize, while ensuring reliable payments and diverse payment methods. They may also want to look at faster payments to keep them happy.
Attempts to expand the network increases fraud potential and presents a greater risk. Networks looking to establish a more global, expansive presence will need to execute quickly, but still thoroughly ensure they’re signing up legitimate partners. Proper publisher onboarding, identification, and communication are going to play a bigger part in reducing fraud.
And one last point: we see all mobile content and media creation – including news, videos, podcasts, casual literature – becoming monetized in some form or fashion. It’s not just about games anymore, but games have been acclimating us to pay for smaller chunks of content. The engagement data on digital media reveals the audience value, much of it generated by hundreds (potentially thousands) of different sources. Distribution channels that accept work from writers, creators, talent, freelancers, affiliates, and influencers will need to pay creators just as efficiently as networks pay their publishers.