Mobile Advertising – 10 years later

Mobile Advertising – 10 years later

10 years is a lifetime in the tech industry. March 2018 marks the 10th year anniversary of our Mobile Advertising Book published by John Wiley & Sons. To my knowledge, it was the first book of its kind addressing the Mobile Advertising opportunity that was ahead and the factors that will shape its destiny. By that time, iPhone had already entered the consumer consciousness and Android was on its way in a few months. The underlying networks that will provide a catalytic effect were also ready for transformation as industry started thinking about the move from 3G to 4G LTE. We talked about the Yottabyte revolution that will shape advertising forever. Our trust-based privacy framework is still makes sense 10 years later.

Lot has transpired in the last 10 years. The mobile industry has been completely upended. iPhone and Android changed the industry dynamics for the better. Consumers have had an unbelievable ride with each year bringing innovations across the applications, network, and the devices subsegments to create a thriving ecosystem. The book delved into the driving forces that will change the advertising industry forever. It was clear then as it is now that data will become the key element to shape the value-chain however privacy might become industry’s Achilles heel if enough safeguards weren’t put in place. I wrote that the focus should be on turning privacy into a competitive advantage and not the other way around. In fact, we advocated for the role of “Chief Privacy Officer” for every company that deals with consumer data.

LTE shifted how advertising was produced and consumed. As discussed in the paper, “Mobile Network as a Platform: Planning for the 5G World,” advertising shifted to video. As 5G approaches, we are likely to see another dramatic shift. The technology breakthroughs on access, sensors, AI, and interfaces will provide a step change to how advertising is produced and consumed.

As we look into the next decade of mobile advertising, there are new questions to answer, new developments to ponder over that have implications beyond the advertising ecosystem:

  • The pendulum on data privacy regulation is swinging in the other direction. GDPR might become the guiding light. We have argued for the formation of a new agency – Federal Digital Commission to look at the broader picture of how competition and tech is understood and regulated.
  • If simple database data on a consumer can create a very deep profile of the consumer, AI can enhance it to an unimaginable degree. We should be talking about safeguards and boundaries.
  • LTE created the mobile video advertising revenue stream. What will 5G do?
  • Will consumer behavior and expectations change? How will they differ by region?
  • Will new players rise from the current state of industry?
  • We had argued that the operators can only be successful in advertising if they either have a monopoly in the country or they present a united front. That notion is still true. Many operators have tried but have failed in pursuing the pot at the end of the advertising rainbow. But, things are changing. How far will they go?
  • Some of the basic things like attribution verification and independent metric verification are still a problem and it will get in even more complex with AI. Without explainable AI, it will be hard to figure out what’s happening in the Blackbox.
  • Will the new technologies make advertising more transparent or even more complicated?
  • How far will the regulators go? Will they overreach? Will they force data giants to open their data to the ecosystem? Can we arrive at sensible regulations that benefits all without hindering progress? Should they regulate security of data?
  • Is data part of a bigger narrative beyond advertising? Will the collection and usage model flip?
  • How will the advertising experiences change because of new technologies?
  • And much more …

Ancient Greeks created the notion of a “market” and termed it Agra. The most important element of the market was trust, between buyers, sellers, and advertisers; between exposures and transactions. It was true centuries ago, it is true now and it will not change in the future. Markets are made, they must be nurtured and taken care of.

Here it is to the next 10 years of progress and innovation.

Your feedback is always welcome.


Chetan Sharma