Monday (11/9) at the annual Blackberry Dev Con, RIM announced a new service for app publishers and advertisers—BlackBerry® Advertising Service. The announcement marks a significant shift towards measurability and action-oriented advertising in a channel well suited to both—mobile. Using the service, developers can easily integrate high-value advertising to monetize their apps, advertisers can spark action-oriented response to campaigns (add to calendar, add to contacts, download app, etc.), and the entire ecosystem has a single (unbiased) measuring stick for success. Here’s a relevant excerpt from the release:

    “With the BlackBerry Advertising Service, RIM plans to provide developers with access to a large pool of quality and innovative ad units from trusted top tier and specialty advertising networks such as Jumptap, Lat49, Millennial Media, Navteq, 1020 Placecast, Quattro Wireless and The service will feature ads compliant with the Mobile Marketing Association’s (MMA) guidelines as well as rich media ads that will be able to deeply integrate with BlackBerry applications. Examples of this deep integration between ads and applications will include the ability to easily initiate a call from an ad, add a calendar entry or contact entry from an ad, and directly link to an application in BlackBerry App World™ from an ad. The service will also include real-time, detailed, consolidated reporting of advertising across ad networks, including ad impressions, clicks, conversions and earnings, as well as integration into the Omniture Online Marketing Suite™ for more advanced analytics.”

Many challenges advertisers and publishers have faced with respect to mobile advertising (low fill rates, low response, CPM/CPC rates misaligned with value, etc.) can be linked to treating mobile as just another screen for marketers to serve the same web content. Once the mobile channel is treated as a medium with unique capabilities, some pretty amazing things can happen as noted in this blog post about emerging mobile channels. The new RIM service has strategic significance for publishers and advertisers because it integrates deeply with capabilities unique to mobile while at the same time removing friction from developer implementation of advertising and end-user engagement with advertising. Here are four reasons the new RIM service makes sense:

Leverages action-oriented mobile environment
Natural orientation of mobile channels towards action-driven interactions (what’s the phone number for my favorite restaurant, when is the upcoming concert, how do I get from A to B) are reinforced with the new “click-to-action” ad types.

Provides high-value campaign response
Ultimately marketers want campaigns to produce a measurable impact on their desired audience. In a channel where users are already primed for action, the new RIM service provides ideal action-oriented ads. For example, event advertisers can deploy in-app ads which create a calendar event in the device’s calendar on ad click; or an ad for a local pizza company can create a contact in the address book which loyal customers can refer back to. In both scenarios, the action taken has much higher value than a click to a website.

Removes barriers gating ad deployment and user interaction
As usage trends for mobile services show, usability is key—in order to replicate the “add to calendar” scenario above without the RIM service, a user would:

    click on in-app ad > be directed to website > copy event details > exit browser > launch calendar > paste event details > configure calendar entry > close calendar > re-launch app

For advertisements using the new RIM service, those steps can now occur from a single click inside the application, significantly reducing friction between the initial ad interaction and completion of desired engagement.  On the developer/publisher side, several steps have been removed from the process of integrating advertising into blackberry apps.

Enables analytic-based campaign optimization (pre and post “click”)
Finally, RIM has aligned analytics across the service so marketers can accurately assess effectiveness of campaigns. If you’ve sat on calls as I have where the publisher, platform provider, and advertiser/ advertising network are attempting to line up disparate motives and measurement methodologies, you understand how important having a single (unbiased) source of analytics is.

In summery, the new service has the potential to improve click-through rates, increase CPMs/CPCs, provide higher value to advertisers, and create a virtuous analytic-driven optimization cycle.

Ip Pbx
Ip Pbx

There is no doubt that the relationship between apps and ads is strong. I have to wonder when is it enough, and at what point will consumers rebuff the over saturation of advertisements. The good news is that companies create ads that are likely to pique the interest of the user. This makes it easier to distribute content that they may enjoy, and thus be able to use their apps to save the information received in the advert. Finally, there is little doubt that using the RIM service could be beneficial to those who use mobile advertising. In the long term, I'll be interested to see how the optimization of such practices proves to benefit those who embarked on this marketing route.

Ed Hewett
Ed Hewett

Advertising is one way to monetize content but it isn't the only way. It's also not always the best way (social games come to mind). The key point here is to allow users to respond to content (ads or otherwise) in a way that makes sense for the channel. An ad from a pizza joint delivered to a mobile device shouldn't push responding users to the company website. Allowing users to call in an order to the restaurant or add the number in their contacts in response to the ad ultimately delivers more value (and a better user experience).