Ping Me With My Ad Data

You've got your maps and navigators, your movie trailers and music players, your code scanners and stock trackers, games galore, and so much more. It's no exaggeration that the list of apps you can run on your mobile device never ends.

I mean, seriously, who uses some of these things? Randomly hunting for cool apps is crazy. You could sink a weekend into that activity. Searching on and narrowing down a specific type of app -- say, healthy eating -- to the one best fitting your needs isn't much easier with the sheer volume available.

Getting creative efforts out of a long "try me/buy me" scroll down and on to a user's home screen challenges the biggest and the littlest mobile app developers. Naturally, app developers are doing what they can to get their goods noticed. As Brian Gilbert, director of monetization at Pinger, told me in a recent interview: "There's a lot of money going to promote the discovery of mobile apps." More specifically, "There are a lot of dollars in the ad ecosystem being spent on app discovery and promotion."

Gilbert knows what he's talking about; Pinger is part of that ad ecosystem. For the last four years, it has been serving up mobile ads to users of its free device-independent and carrier-independent text-and-talk network. Users view ads in exchange for that $0 bill and independence. (See: Pinger Taps Into Mobile Ad Optimization.)

But developers aren't pouring money into the mobile app ecosystem with abandon, Gilbert said. Whether developing a standalone mobile app, a social game, or an app aimed at amplifying a brand experience, developers want to know the payoff. How much are they spending for how many installs? "That's a fairly important aspect to be able to capture from a mobile perspective."

Pinger, which uses an ad-serving optimization platform from SAS (this site's sponsor), is deep in the midst of this rising need for mobile ad insight. In our interview, Gilbert shared a variety of other examples of the types of information mobile players want out of the ad ecosystem.

For example, many mobile advertisers want to know how socially engaged users are. That means Pinger has to deliver metrics on how many people went to Facebook or Twitter, for example, after being exposed to an ad. Equally important is the ability to deliver ads based on user location and time.

You can't just deliver an ad at a country level anymore; you have to target it to the nearest Starbucks. You might not want to advertise in the middle of the night but within the next three to four hours. The ability to do advanced targeting is something everybody is looking to leverage.

And given the here-and-now nature of many mobile campaigns, Pinger has to be able to deliver much of this data in real-time -- or pretty darn close to it.

Some of the ancillary, post-click engagement activity ends up with a 24-hour delay if it involves getting metrics from third parties back in through the data piping. But campaign targeting -- like click-throughs in last hour -- gets tracked in real-time, so advertisers can take action in real-time. They can change and adjust the settings, throttle, and target on the fly.

Gilbert credits the ad-serving optimization platform with allowing Pinger to keep up with advertiser demands. "There has to be a lot of communication between what we're seeing and hearing from our ad partners and the tools we're leveraging," he said. "It's a good thing the platform we're working with is fairly nimble."

Hopefully, that nimbleness will help Pinger tick off its next wish-list items quickly. A primary one is the ability to identify users as they cross the desktop and mobile environments. "The cross-platform user ID and targeting is an interesting challenge," he said. "It's a prime time for SAS to be exploring this and tackling it for the marketplace."

Do any of your mobile devices act as ad-serving platforms? If so -- or even not -- what sorts of data might advertisers glean from your mobile activity? Share below.

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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Cross platform
  • 1/25/2013 4:50:42 PM

Interesting idea to collect data cross devices from mobile to desktop per users, that could really change the way ads are delivered, or it might not at all. 

I know that what I use my mobile devices for is far different than what I use my desktop for. 

Re: Cross platform
  • 1/25/2013 5:38:33 PM

I'd say the same, but I do find myself using my smartphone for more work stuff since I got a new, fast device over Christmas break. 

Re: Cross platform
  • 1/25/2013 6:03:21 PM

Newer and faster is always fun ;-) I have been finding that I use my tablet and smartphone more than before my desktop, but still I am using them for different things most of the time. Though at this point I think my iPad gets the most use out of all my devices, both at home and on the go.

Re: Cross platform
  • 1/25/2013 10:28:25 PM

So bulk, if you only had to pick one device to keep, which would it be? 

Re: Cross platform
  • 1/25/2013 10:45:02 PM

Beth.... How can you put me in that postion? hahahahah. 

If I could only keep one, I would probably go with my phone just for ease of use. and I can sync it to my TV and a bluetooth keyboard if I need a larger screen. I would not have the computing power of my desktop or the flexability of my iPad but I def think the phone is the way to go.  

Re: Cross platform
  • 1/26/2013 7:31:46 AM

bulk, - now that you mention tablets, when i went out shopping for a tab i thought i had finally migrated my office to my handbag and could work from anywhere...months later, i've come to realize it is not that comfortable to work from when doing serious work...its just more of an entertainment tool. I even find my phone more useful to me work-wise.

Re: Cross platform
  • 1/28/2013 8:10:55 AM

The abundance of apps is staggering and makes me wonder if developers are getting conned in some ways to bring more and more to the market. In encouraging the invention of more and more at small cost, the "higher" in the food chain can benefit. 

It will be interesting to see data for use by varioius devices to get a better idea of the usefullness or not of new apps.

Re: Cross platform
  • 1/28/2013 9:24:15 AM

I carry my tablet with me just about everywhere with me, I also toss a bluetooth keyboard in my bag and bring that with me as well. Though I enjoy using my tablet for a lot of work functions, I still mostly use my phone when I am in a pinch. It is really my go to device at this point. 

Channel origination
  • 1/28/2013 3:37:05 PM

Identifying users as they cross channels is  critical to our analysis in the future so many companies still can't determine what type of device a user is coming from much less if the same user as a multi device user. This solution sounds like it will bring great insight to organizations.

Re: Channel origination
  • 1/28/2013 3:56:39 PM

That's the goal at least!

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