Head of Global Mobile Solutions
Jason Spero manages the global priorities and overall commercial strategy for Google's mobile offerings, which include Google Search, the Google Display Network, AdMob, YouTube and the DoubleClick platform. He joined Google in May 2010 as part of the company’s acquisition of AdMob, where he was vice president and general manager for North America and responsible for strategy and operations. In an interview with eMarketer’s Tobi Elkin, Spero elaborates on how a wide range of vertical industries are using mobile advertising.
eMarketer: What trends are you seeing with respect to mobile ad spending within industries?
Jason Spero: Let me describe the landscape first. We’re in a crazy, rapid evolutionary phase in mobile. Three years ago, people said, “Hey, is this mobile thing really going to happen?” What happened over a very short time is that people started using their phones for everything—the phone has become the central problem-solving tool when we’re walking around. A lot of our data show that people are using their phones while walking around the neighborhood and they want to find a brand, retailer or just a place to have lunch.
“In 2012, there is no one mobile. For me, this is a key point.”
In 2012, there is no one mobile. For me, this is a key point. There’s mobile for local. Then there’s mobile for the retail world, where someone is in a store and they’re looking at a refrigerator and they want to know if they’re getting a good price. Another retailer would love to sell them that refrigerator and that other retailer, and another brand, would love for them to consider other products.
There’s also a shopping-companion type of mobile experience, and you can broaden that to include the example of when you’re looking for a place to go for dinner and using apps or Open Table or searching for directions to a store—that’s what I call local stuff.
eMarketer: When it comes to branding goals, how are marketers deploying mobile advertising and marketing opportunities?
Spero: Marketers are using mobile for classic branding cases like product launches, product awareness, intent to purchase and all that stuff. For example, in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) category, marketers are running ads that result in a coupon to help drive people into stores. They’re running mobile ads that help people to become aware of a new product offering, whether it’s a personal care item or food product or whatever else. They can be mobile display ads or the equivalent of shopping-companion types of ads.
In the auto space, marketers are trying to find and target the in-market shopper, and there is a lot of effort around trying to reach that person when they’re planning their shopping, test drives and also when they’re comparing prices.
Auto marketers leverage display media to drive awareness, but they’re also big investors in search media because they know that they can reach people when they’re trying to read reviews, get prices or compare dealers. So mobile serves a couple of different purposes for the auto category but it’s also effective for delivering on branding and awareness goals.
eMarketer: Can you talk about the way retailers are using mobile advertising?
Spero: If you know that you want to buy a flat-screen TV before you go to the store, you can use your phone and find out who’s got it in stock. I would loosely call that category the shopping-companion category. It’s leveraging the mobile web while you’re shopping and it could be for price comparison, reading reviews and lots more. The retail sector loves the idea that when I do a search for a flat-screen TV they can show me a map and I can literally walk with that map into the store. It’s extremely powerful.
“CPG, given its percentage of online desktop ad spend, is underindexing in mobile. But in 18 months, I think CPG would overindex.”
eMarketer: Where would you put the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries with respect to mobile ad spending?
Spero: They’ve been late movers. Some of that is because of regulations on disclosure, which are hard to carry out on a small screen. I think we still have seen some creative stuff from over-the-counter (OTC) marketers, but I’ll admit that we haven’t really gotten healthcare going yet.
Also, the small business market is underleveraged in mobile advertising. It’s not really an industry vertical but we think small businesses may possibly have the biggest opportunity with mobile because of the opportunity to target on a hyper-local basis, so you only hit the areas where your stores are. One reason the category is lagging may be because a lot of small businesses don’t have their own mobile website and they’re run by people who aren’t technologists.
CPG, given its percentage of online desktop ad spend, is underindexing in mobile. But in 18 months, I think CPG would overindex.
eMarketer: What categories have had the biggest increases in spending on mobile advertising?
Spero: The majority of Google’s business isn’t done through an upfront commitment. But if I think about it, we cracked a lot of the ecommerce segment in the last year since ecommerce marketers have concluded that tablet and smartphone commerce is for real. We’ve also seen dramatic growth in the online retail space.
Interestingly, brick-and-mortar retailers are also spending more. If you’re a big box retailer and you know that someone in your store is looking at a refrigerator and then checking out the price on Amazon, one of the ways that you respond is to promote buying the item in-store. [As a result,] we’ve seen traditional retailers and ecommerce retailers increasing their spend.
Media and entertainment is an endemic category for mobile advertising and a big adopter. We see a lot of spending in this category around promotion for tune-ins and calendar alerts so that people know that a TV show is premiering. That’s a really powerful experience because the phone has become the primary calendar. Mobile advertising is good for movie launches of any kind or the launch of a TV show.
eMarketer: Do you have an example of a marketer that completely “gets it”?
Spero:I would say 1-800-Flowers understands mobile advertising, has seen more of its traffic moving to mobile and tracks the heck out of it. They built their customer experience for mobile and they’ve leveraged local. They make it easy to order on the site. You can click-to-call to talk to somebody. They know what’s in stock locally. They are an early, early adopter.
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