Pinger Taps Into Mobile Ad Optimization

Where consumers go, advertisers are sure to follow. You know what that means -- everybody's meeting up on mobile devices today.

A newly released Gartner forecast predicts a 400 percent growth in worldwide mobile advertising revenue from 2011 to 2016, with a revenue jump from $9.6 billion in 2012 to $11.4 billion in 2013. That means tons of campaign and other mobile ad data -- and lots of analytics.

As Andrew Frank, a Gartner research vice president, said in the release:

Smartphones and media tablets extend the addressable market for mobile advertising in more and more geographies as an increasing population of users spends an increasing share of its time with these devices. This market will therefore become easier to segment and target, driving the growth of mobile advertising spend for brands and advertisers. Mobile advertising should be integrated into advertisers' overall marketing campaigns in order to connect with their audience in very specific, actionable ways through their smartphones and/or tablets.

The Internet Advertising Board (IAB), in an October 2012 study, painted a rosy picture, too. The study, conducted on IAB's behalf by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), showed mobile advertising increased 95 percent the first half of 2012. It reported mobile advertising in the US at $1.2 billion during the period, up from $636 million in the first half of 2011. In the report, David Silverman, a partner at PwC, said:

The tremendous growth of mobile advertising revenue over the past year is an indication of the importance of location to advertisers and mobility to consumers. Bringing the power of the internet to mobile devices has opened up a world of possibilities to both consumers and marketers.
You can best believe that with increased mobile ad spending, companies want to be sure their messages are being heard, and acted upon, by consumers. Advertisers are definitely getting more demanding about metrics and insight, Brian Gilbert, director of monetization at Pinger, told me in an interview last week.

Pinger should know; it's been serving up mobile ads to consumers on its global text-and-talk network for the last four years. The Pinger network is device-independent and carrier-independent. "Tap a picture and you'll see all of your communications -- texts, pics, calls, voicemails -- all in one place" and for free, Pinger says on its website. The only catch is, if you consider it a catch, is that Pinger serves up ads along with the connectivity. Users engage with the ad content to earn minutes and allowing calling to occur, for example, Gilbert explained.

In its early days as a mobile ad platform, Pinger used what he called a fire hose mentality. "When we served an ad, it went to everybody in the audience. It wasn't targeted. We couldn't get the ad to the right person on the right platform at the right time," he said.

Pinger had neither the data nor the algorithms to do that kind of targeted campaign, Gilbert said. "It wasn't the best way to go about it, but we didn't have the background or the understanding internally to meet the advertisers' goals."

Today that wouldn't fly. "Advertisers want measurable ROI and statistics around who is engaging with their brands. What are the engagement metrics for watching a movie trailer? Are consumers then buying tickets on Fandango? We need to be able to provide them those insights," Gilbert said.

To do that, Pinger uses an ad-serving optimization platform from SAS (this site's sponsor) that lets it provide advertisers the insight they want, in real time if needed. It uses the platform for demographics, frequency capping, and device detection for market segmentation and campaign targeting, for example, Gilbert said.

The platform provided a big benefit to Pinger, which Gilbert described as still being a classic startup facing the build-versus-buy decision. "There's no way we would have had the resources internally to build the capabilities we have available in this platform in a core product. That would take years, literally, with a sizable engineering staff, to replicate."

While a couple of years ago such tools weren't available, they are now -- "and it's incumbent on anybody selling to these clients to be able to provide them." The stakes are as high as they are mobile, after all.

Beth Schultz, Editor in Chief

Beth Schultz has more than two decades of experience as an IT writer and editor.  Most recently, she brought her expertise to bear writing thought-provoking editorial and marketing materials on a variety of technology topics for leading IT publications and industry players.  Previously, she oversaw multimedia content development, writing and editing for special feature packages at Network World. In particular, she focused on advanced IT technology and its impact on business users and in so doing became a thought leader on the revolutionary changes remaking the corporate datacenter and enterprise IT architecture. Beth has a keen ability to identify business and technology trends, developing expertise through in-depth analysis and early adopter case studies. Over the years, she has earned more than a dozen national and regional editorial excellence awards for special issues from American Business Media, American Society of Business Press Editors,, and others.

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Re: Device upgrades
  • 1/29/2013 12:46:27 PM

@ Beth

Well this area isn't still monitored by any one so spammers have the full liberty to advertise as much as they can. The telecom companies/network operators should be the ones taking legal action against spammers.

Nevertheless, a brand that wants to build its reputation and not just sell products will never take this method of advertisement in hands as the mobile users hate such spammers.

Re: Device upgrades
  • 1/28/2013 1:17:43 PM

MMS & SMS spam is going to get uglier and uglier, I'm sure. I don't think a lot of legit companies condone or pay for such activity though, do you?

Re: Device upgrades
  • 1/26/2013 3:19:25 AM

I dont know of any mobile ad-serving platforms that are working in an organized and official manner. MMS and SMS spammers are the ones who are usually serving ads for their clients which hardly any one reads. This being illegal doesn't have a lot of scope and exposes the advertiser to legal risks.

Re: Device upgrades
  • 1/23/2013 9:52:15 AM

On that note, particular to Pinger, I do believe it's US only at this juncture, with some experimentation in Europe (Germany if I recall correctly). I don't know of mobile ad-serving platforms elsewhere. Do you?

Re: Device upgrades
  • 1/23/2013 9:43:20 AM

Ya Beth. To add on, if the advertisers expect the users to actually view their ad videos (esp HD) on their smartphones, then they must not only wait for users to get hold of newer smartphones but also for users in many countries where mobile internet isn't fast, for mobile internet to get upgraded.

Re: Device upgrades
  • 1/22/2013 1:31:55 PM

You raise a great point, Waqas. I'd be far more prone to accepting ads on my new smartphone than I would have been a month ago on my old one. I could barely stand to send a text on that one, it was so pokey.

Re: I rob banks because...
  • 1/22/2013 9:17:59 AM

@ callmebob

Oh yes. Print media's debacle is a fact in these times of internet and mobile. However, advertisements on billboards will continue to flourish because they are logically not likely to be affected by mobile devices as users no matter how tech-savvy they are, have to touch roads to travel. Having said that, there is no way advertisements on billboards will be sufficient in a campaign as online advertisement also sometimes triggers actual purchasing in a matter of few clicks.

Device upgrades
  • 1/22/2013 9:12:37 AM

Today, there are many mobile devices, and a large percentage of users use them, that have slow processors (i.e. if they are smartphones). In that situation, (I am talking about my own mobile device) it is difficult to open up an ad even if I find interesting. The point is, as the mobile devices' processors get upgraded and users start adopting them, there will a big boost in advertisement revenue even if we assume that the advertisers' effort remain constant (which they won't).

Re: I rob banks because...
  • 1/22/2013 7:28:42 AM

How right you are, callmebob. Ironic indeed!

Re: I rob banks because...
  • 1/21/2013 2:15:17 PM

I think mobile ads really are going to be big, I think coupling it with geo location data will really help to drive the revenue. 

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