FEATURE26 May 2010

New IAB mobile manager sets out research plan

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Last week the Internet Advertising Bureau appointed Alex Kozloff as mobile manager. We caught up with her to find out what sort of information the mobile ad industry needs and how she plans to provide them with it.

After working on the clientside with Orange and mobile ad network Unanimis, Kozloff is well aware of what sort of information advertisers and agencies want and need before committing any of their budget to mobile.

She has been with the IAB a couple of weeks and has already kicked off two projects to bring more information to clients looking to invest in mobile. “I’ve got a couple on the go at the moment,” she says. “The first one surrounds SMS and MMS advertising and their effectiveness and we’re hoping to release a consumer-facing piece of research looking at their effectiveness as well as consumer perception towards them.

“Another piece of research I’m doing is around mobile commerce, which starts with B2B research to understand what retailers and the industry are doing in mobile commerce and their perceptions [of mobile advertising] and then we’ll use that as the basis of a consumer-facing study.”

A further study into how mobile advertising works together with other media is planned for later in the year.

Educating the industry is her overall goal, and she said that based on past work the IAB has done there is still a great deal that advertisers and agencies want to know about the sector.

“Before I started we’d done research with key agencies and advertisers,” Kozloff said, “and one of the things that came out is that there is a real raised awareness around mobiles but there’s still a real lack of understanding around it, so we’re using research to hopefully help people understand mobile and prove its effectiveness so it becomes a viable medium that people can understand and spend on.”

When asked whether the mobile advertising industry was being sold short by research that has been carried out in the past, Kozloff was quick to disagree, stating that the quality of work has never been a problem – the difficulty comes in keeping up with the technology.

“There is a lot of really good research out there,” she said, “but it’s such a new media that there’s a lot for us catch up on and it is also changing constantly. The technology is changing all the time and it’s so new that I think there’s a lot of groundwork to do so we can make sure we understand what is already out there as well as keeping hot on the tail of the new stuff.

“I think more than anything that mobile is such a wide media that covers so much – the research that’s out there is really great but there’s so many more aspects that need to be researched, such as mobile commerce and mobile with other media.”

Kozloff believes that advertisers, agencies and brands want to invest in mobile – even in a climate where budgets are stretched – but are holding back because of the lack of available evidence that can convince them it is an investment worth making.

“From previous IAB research the things that really came up were case studies and proof of effectiveness, so off the back of that we’ve released lots of case studies and also some ad effectiveness studies and we’re progressing that in with the SMS and commerce studies,” she said when asked exactly what clients want to know about the sector.

As well as potential clients who need concrete proof before committing any of the budget to mobile, there is a section of the advertising industry that needs to be taught about the benefits of mobile.

Kozloff said it can be “tricky” for advertisers with no experience in the sector and as a result a big part of her job will be going out with IAB members and showing the research that has been carried out to potential new advertisers.

She will also look to forge strong links with the mobile operators’ association GSMA, which operates the UK’s mobile audience measurement system, the Mobile Media Metrics programme.

“I think GSMA MMM is a really important thing for mobile advertising,” she said. “It is actually ahead of the curve for such a relatively new media to have such a good tool. I hope to continue to work with them.”

Looking to the future, the continued adoption of smart phones – which Kozloff said accounts for around 25% of the market – will provide “big opportunities” for advertisers.

She also thinks that recent developments like Google’s acquisition of Ad Mob and the introduction of Apple’s advertising platform, iAd, will have a positive effect on the industry over the next few years.

“There’s been a lot of changes,” she said, “and hopefully those changes will mean an increased investment in mobile advertising both in the short and long term.”

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