CEO of Manage Mike Ng Discusses the Evolution of Mobile Advertising
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
We recently chatted with Mike Ng, CEO of Manage, to discuss the mobile advertising marketplace and the changes undergoing the industry.
ADM: I understand Manage has been around for about 5 years as a mobile DSP. How has the company evolved over the years?
Ng: When Manage was founded 5 years ago, we decided to focus primarily on mobile in-app marketing. We were one of the first on the mobile programmatic real-time bidding (RTB) scene, and saw in-app advertising as a huge opportunity and where the trend was headed.
In the early days, we worked mainly with mobile gaming app developers because they were first to adopt in-app advertising for user acquisition. Though they still represent a good portion of our client base, we’ve expanded to also serve a wider array of mobile commerce advertisers, agencies and brand advertisers. The growing diversity of our client base is a sign of greater adoption and recognition of the value of mobile in-app inventory. Apps are where consumers are spending most of their time on mobile, and thus, also where more and more advertisers want to spend their budgets.
Today, the mobile landscape is significantly more crowded and competitive. You’ve got more players bidding on a lot of the same mobile inventory, meaning we’ve got to continue improving our bidding technology and algorithms to keep a competitive edge. We’ve spent the last couple of years hyper-focused on doing just that, in addition to scaling our infrastructure and platform.
Looking out towards the remainder of 2016, we’ve been positioning ourselves to be more than just a DSP tied to programmatic-only inventory. We see ourselves more as a mobile marketing platform for marketers to reach consumers wherever they are on mobile apps. Having been a bootstrapped business that’s never taken on outside funding, we feel that the past 5 years have given us a fundamental core strength which will allow us to expand successfully into additional channels based on our go-forward strategy.
ADM: What trends are you seeing with marketers today?
Ng: Marketers have become increasingly sophisticated on mobile. They’re keenly focused on performance metrics, including return on ad spend. It’s not just about volume of traffic and impressions anymore. It’s about the quality of conversions and customer lifetime value. The line between marketing and analytics is now blurred, and marketers want to get into the weeds on the data, how a campaign is set up, how it’s optimizing, and how we can eke out incremental improvements.
From a partnership perspective, they’re also becoming closer collaborators to companies like Manage, versus just throwing insertion orders over the transom. For us, this shift has been great because it’s meant tighter collaboration and strategizing to help marketers meet their goals.
Last but not least, we are also seeing a blurred line between brand and performance marketers who are now simultaneously looking for ROI coupled with high profile marketing not traditionally associated with performance, such as TV advertising. The opportunity is that there is a bi-directional flow of “new” marketers entering the mobile app world as well.
ADM: What are the most common challenges faced by marketers?
Ng: The role of the marketer is expanding and getting more complex. For one, they’re having to manage multiple vendors. It’s common for marketers to work with over a dozen different DSPs, ad networks and other vendors just to run their mobile campaigns. On top of that, they’re managing spend for a variety of channels - desktop, mobile, social media - and each channel presents its own unique nuances and complexities. They’re also being asked to do more with less budget in a lot of cases, thus driving the need for ultra laser focus on hard results.
ADM: Manage recently announced expansion from programmatic RTB to social media marketing. What market problem are you trying to solve with this strategy?
Ng: Our mission is to make it easier for marketers to reach today’s mobile-centric consumers with greater volume and frequency on the mobile apps they use. If you look at how consumers are spending their time on mobile, a huge majority of it (87%) is spent within apps, and nearly 30% is within social networks. So that’s exactly where we are doubling down our efforts.
By working with Manage, marketers can work through a single vendor to connect with consumers across over 700,000 mobile apps worldwide, and on the most prevalent social platforms. We’re taking a very performance-driven approach that puts marketers’ KPIs at the core of how we plan, flight and optimize their brand and performance ad campaigns.
ADM: How is Manage's solution unique?
Ng: We’re among the first - if not the first - pure mobile DSP to make the expansion from programmatic RTB to social media platforms. The reason why no one else is doing this is that it’s very technology and machine-learning intensive. Each social media channel tackled requires separate unique bidding algorithms and workflow tools.
We are leveraging our years of experience and expertise developing solutions for programmatic RTB and applying that to social platforms. We’ve also got a robust tech infrastructure already in place that allows us to handle, process and decision against massive volumes of data.
All of this allows us to effectively bid on inventory across mobile exchanges and social media platforms, saving marketers from what is typically a highly manual process. The result for our customers is greater ad spend and marketing efficiencies, more scale through consolidated buying, and an overall unified creative approach.
ADM: Any other big bets you are making?
Ng: Creative has always been an important value add service for us. We’ve got an in-house team of mobile ad experts because we believe well-designed creatives are a vital component of mobile campaign success.
Today’s consumers quickly become desensitized to ads, and so we’ve got to keep things fresh, interactive, and immersive. We’ve been creating our own in-house playable ads that allow consumers to engage with an interactive demo or play a mini-game. We’re developing new concepts and creative ideas weekly, and believe this is an area that sets us apart and helps us deliver the high performance our customers need.
ADM: What are your predictions for mobile marketing for the rest of the 2016?
Ng: For the rest of 2016 and beyond, I think we’ll see that publishers and formats will continue to expand. We’re hearing about more interest in new mediums like live streaming, connected TV and even VR. We also anticipate the continued convergence of performance and brand marketing. Finally, as the industry continues to mature, we’ll see movement towards more broadly accepted standards.
Adtech is a streetfight. It requires constant little pivots every week and every month to gain incremental performance for our clients. This is the challenge that adtech companies need to embrace in order to continue providing value to the marketers we serve.
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