March 05, 2009


By Hisham Isa, Vice President (Marketing)

Just about every mobile campaign, by its very nature, is targeted at a particular audience. However many companies do not target their ads strategically. In this week's column, I'd like to share some best practices with you and also take a look at the Targeting Capabilities of the BuzzCity ad server. Particularly if you are a campaign manager who purchases ad space on the fly, I invite you to think about these five rules: 

  1. Identify your audience and objectives.
  2. Determine the best date and time of day to launch your campaign.
  3. Think about Content Targeting Filters as a proxy for Gender & Age.
  4. Don't get hung up on Technical Targeting.
  5. Test, test, test
Step 1: Identify your Audience & Objectives
Who is the campaign trying to reach and what action do you want consumers to take? You probably thought about these questions when you conceptualised your campaign, designed the banners and wrote the ad copy, but take a fresh look at these points as you determine when and where to place the mobile ads. Your answers to these questions will directly impact your actions in the next two steps.

Step 2: Date and Time Targeting
Advertisers prefer to run campaigns when mobile internet usage is high; consumer groups have specific behaviours related to time that will impact the start and end of a successful campaign:

  • Students, for example, don't surf on holidays.
  • In the UK and Nigeria, mobile surfers tend to check messages early in the morning.*
  • Office workers don't surf during the lunch hour. (Lunchtime is actually the least active period on our network.)
  • Across our ad network, the evening hours are the most surfed. Entertainment services tend to peak their campaigns at night, having observed higher download trends during these hours.
* If you are targeting a specific country, check out the appropriate Country Profile page of our consumer surveys (here's a link to the most recent one and a link to previous reports).

Product releases and promotions invariably affect campaign dates. But so too should school holidays, festivals and public holidays as these occasions impact usage and hence the visibility of your ads.

The bottom line here is to use the Day and Hour Filters (Start / End Time) to determine times when your banners should -- or should not – appear.

Step 3: Content Targeting
The BuzzCity ad network is divided into seven content channels:

  1. myGamma
  2. Community
  3. Entertainment & Lifestyle
  4. Information
  5. Mobile Content
  6. Search/ Portal/ Services
  7. Adult Sites
Content Targeting ensures that a marketing message is delivered to an audience predisposed to responding to your message. Content filters can also serve as a proxy for age and gender as your team can make educated decisions about which type of viewer is likely to visit which channel. For example, as Yuszela pointed out in her February blog, the typical male consumer – and the typical myGamma member – is a twenty-something male. At the moment, there's no clear data on which channels women most like to frequent. However BuzzCity is researching how to categorise sites in a manner which make it easier to target demographic groups.

Step 4: Technical Targeting
Banners can be targeted to appear on phones made by specific carriers or manufacturers (Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, etc). The former is a particularly useful feature for e-commerce transactions that are tied to a telecoms provider. You can also target technical features like Bluetooth, Flash, GPS, music players, Real Player, etc.. You'll need to do this if your application requires a specific technology (for example, apps that work on GPS inputs or if your banner ad was designed to play in Flash).

Along the same line of thought, you can filter by Operating System / Platform. FYI, Symbian has a foothold in more than 45% of the market, roughly the same as Nokia (which is a customer and shareholder of Symbian).

Note that we do not offer choices for the newest operating systems like Android. Technically, we could enable such targeting, but there is not a big enough user-base to justify it. When there is a critical mass, we add the option. Ironically, though, as each new addition becomes pervasive, there's less need to target it. For example, advertisers used to target users with colour screens or phones with Java capability, but now any modern phone has these capabilities.

(In our system, note that Technical Targeting appears right after you set the country targeting filters).

Step 5: Test, Test, Test
Before you formally launch your campaign or spend a lot of money, start small and test. Try different banners, different copy and various targeting filters to see which have the best response. Measure responses by reviewing site logs, survey responses and other site analysis tools.

Testing with a small budget will also help you avoid falling into a trap of “over-targeting”. If you are too specific, the audience becomes small, your ROI drops and we may not be able to serve the ad often enough to meet your minimum $20 daily ad spend, which would indicate that your market may not exist yet on our network.

Personally, unless you are targeting a new operating system or technical feature, I think this is unlikely to happen often, as the BuzzCity Ad Network delivered more than 6 billion ads in the first two months of the year. Here, perhaps, lies the strength of a CPC network like ours: it works well when there’s volume. Targeting is an essential tool for mobile marketing, but it needs to be applied judiciously, so you can get enough focus without losing critical mass.