PUBLICIS: Mobile Ads Are At A Tipping Point, Apple's iAds Were Too Expensive

This note is from BI Research, a new tech-industry intelligence service. The service is currently in beta and free. To learn more and sign up, please click here.

alexandre mars phonevalley publicis

Photo: Wikimedia

Here at Monaco Media Forum, we caught up with Alexandre Mars, CEO of Phonevalley, Publicis Groupe’s mobile agency, and head of mobile for Publicis Groupe.Key points:

  • Mobile advertising is close to a tipping point, where it starts to become a big budget for advertisers. This is a bullish sign for mobile ad companies like InMobi, Medialets and others that are building big mobile advertising businesses, and more broadly for the mobile ecosystem generally.
  • Apple’s iAds. The product is very good. Its main problem is that it’s too expensive. But Apple have been flexible on this and are getting traction. 

BI Research: Tell us about Phonevalley.

Alexandre Mars: The agency was created 9 years ago in France and acquired in 2007 by Publicis. We have 200 people in 25 offices throughout the world, and we were named agency of the year in 2011 in France and in the US. 

We do three things: mobile strategy, mobile ideation, and mobile production. We’ve had three-figure-per cent growth.

BIR: What do you see as the most important trends in mobile advertising today?

AM: A big one from the industry perspective is that people are starting to realise the importance of strategy. Before, mobile was just about buying media. Now clients are coming to us and saying: “Help me define my mobile strategy, and then I’ll decide what I buy.” Before, it was “Media first, strategy next”; now it’s the other way around. 

That leads to another thing, which is that we’re getting more and more yearly contracts. Before, it was mostly one-off deals. Now clients are signing one or two-year contracts, with 5 to 15 full-time staff working for them. We have many clients with million-dollar budgets, not including media, especially in the US.

BIR: So, mobile is getting out of the ghetto of the “experimental” budgets and into the big budgets?

AM: Oh, absolutely.

BIR: What are the big product trends you see in mobile ads? 

AM: There’s three:

  • Mobile and social or “Mocial”. People know mobile and social are very powerful, as evidenced by the success of the Facebook apps, but now the question is: what do you do about it? One thing we did for Purina was build an app called petcentric, a social mobile app for pet owners. All of it was about social and mobile. You could of course take pictures of your pets and share them, but more advanced stuff, like finding a good dog park with reviews, find out which airlines are pet-friendly, and so forth. It’s not just about showing off, it’s about finding information and sharing. It’s a huge success, with hundreds of thousands of downloads, and 8 minute average time spent in app.
  • The second is the intersection of mobile and retail or “Metail”. Here, the interesting thing is going from getting people into stores to figuring out and affecting what goes on inside the store. Walmart bought a big online company and turned it into Walmart Labs to do that. We built a mobile shopping assistant for LG. We put stickers on all LG products in stores that people’s phones could recognise, and access independent, respected reviews. This is good because it greases the wheels of converting people inside the store to purchasing.
  • The third trend is rich media. The question here is how to adapt ads to how people use mobile devices: take advantage of swiping motions and so forth. 

BI: The big deal in rich mobile ads is iAds. What do you think about them? 

AM: Personally, I’m pro iAds. Some clients love it because it’s delivered great results–some not so much. The big problem is they were really expensive, but Apple are getting more flexible. 

And you have some other providers like Medialets, who say they do the same thing for cheaper. And largely, that’s true. They’re very good. But sometimes the Apple price makes sense. 

There are plenty of other mobile ad startups to be bullish about like Millenial Media, Jumptap and InMobi.

This note is from BI Research, a new tech-industry intelligence service. The service is currently in beta and free. To learn more and sign up, please click here.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.