Blis validated as #1 Location Provider in the UK
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Blis validated as #1 Location Provider in the UK
July 17 2017

Blis leads UK location vendors in IPA Survey and passes rigorous data accuracy audit by GroupM’s MEC

July 17th, London. Blis, the global pioneer in location data technology, has been ranked the number one location data provider in the UK market for its responses to briefs, the delivery of innovative and creative solutions, and the understanding of client objectives, in a survey commissioned by industry trade body the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA).

In addition, Blis has been independently audited, alongside four other location vendors, as part of an accuracy and verification analysis carried out by Group M’s MEC. This audit was focused on providing the agency with a source of truth around location data quality, scale and ability to accurately build and determine brand audiences.

The IPA survey, which was carried out between March and April this year, questioned over 380 agency planners, strategists and buyers about their experiences with 25 digital vendors in the UK market. Out of all the location specialists included in the survey, Blis came out on top in three key categories, and was placed overall first for the quality of responses to agency briefs category.

Charlie Smith, Managing Director UK Blis, said: “The results from the IPA survey and MEC’s validation audit, cement Blis’ position as the leading location provider in the market today. The audit was designed to robustly scrutinize, at scale, the players in the market claiming location expertise. I’m extremely proud of the hard work our team carried out to meet MEC’s objectives, as well as the performance we achieved.”

“If the advertising industry gets a better understanding of location then the benefits of good location data will result in far higher return on ad spend over time. MEC deserve credit for instigating such a rigorous audit,” added Smith.

“Location now plays a key role in how we build campaigns so thoroughly auditing our location partners is crucial. This process has contributed to an accelerated period of learning for the agency and in performing so well Blis remain a partner of choice MEC,” said Jide Sobo, Head of Mobile at MEC.

Click here to see the Online Media Owners Survey results for spring 2017

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The IAB 2017 Mobile Symposium


The IAB 2017 Mobile Symposium

A Mobile Guy at a Mobile Conference Listening to Content on Mobile – Thoughts from the Day

The IAB held its 2017 Mobile Symposium in New York on June 13. The theme for this year’s event was “Always On: Surviving and Thriving in a Mobile World.” This could have been the theme for the past five years’ events – and could probably work for the next five years ahead as well. As mobile handset numbers continue to grow globally, the fight for attention and survival on the smartphone screen will be increasingly more important – and more challenging.

Obviously, there was a lot to discuss at the IAB event, so I’ll dive right into some of the themes that were featured throughout the day:

Mobile Time Spent vs. Mobile Ad Spend

Today, advertisers are spending more money on display, but that trend is beginning to shift: as consumers spend increasingly more time on mobile, our ad spend should shift accordingly. There is a $16 billion gap today between the time spent on mobile and the ad dollars funneling towards it. Research shows that a full 28 percent of consumer time is spent on mobile, yet only 21 percent of ad spend heads in that direction.

Consider too that competition for attention is coming from multiple screens. People watching primetime TV are generally on multiple screens, and approximately 80+ percent look to their phones when a commercial comes on. The younger the audience, the higher the percentage turning to their mobile screens. Advertisers spend $39 for a prime-time CPM, but mobile CPMs could be as low as $7 to reach the same person at the same moment – and on mobile, you’d have their undivided attention.

From Mobile to Mobility

Another common theme discussed focuses on the philosophical aspects of mobile marketing – and brings up some very valid ideas that we frequently overlook. Alexa Christon, head of media innovation at GE, led a session that discussed how her company “sets itself apart by weighing scalable options against cutting-edge solutions in a constantly evolving market.” There were a lot of smart takeaways as Christon dove into the ways in which GE focuses more on customer behavior, rather than specific channels.

One key point from Christon is that we must remember that we are not advertising to a mobile device, we’re advertising to a mobile person. Too frequently we focus too heavily on the screen, rather than the person looking at the screen, and how they are experiencing and receiving our messages.

At Blis, we remind marketers of the importance and value of taking into consideration behavioral data over time and using it to build audience profiles. These profiles will serve to drive better and more accurate targeting.

Beating Ad Blocking with Mobile

Mark Howard, CRO of Forbes talked about “Reimagining the User Experience,” an important topic given the state of ad blocking today. There are no ad blockers for formats other than digital. Consumers may turn off the TV when a commercial comes on. They can rip a full-page print ad out of a magazine. However, they do not seem as violently opposed to these as they do to digital advertisements, where users are actively blocking ads from their screens. The number of consumers using ad blockers should be taken as a strong clue that the user experience needs to improve if we are going to have effective campaigns -and if we intend to continue growing ad spend.

The creative possibilities for ads are so much better on mobile than on any other platform: augmented reality, AI-based ads, location-relevant ads. We can create ads that react to shaking or swiping a device. We can design interactive gaming ads. There shouldn’t be any reason for consumers to choose to block ads. In fact, the only reasons for a bad user experience on mobile are laziness, lack of budget or lack of creativity. The mobile platform truly gives us the opportunity to “surprise and delight.”


While the Symposium was a great event overall, there were some misconceptions about mobile that should be clarified. Before wrapping up, let me quickly run through those:

There seemed to be some confusion around what certain types of location data are capable of, for example cell tower triangulation, and what it does and what it does not do. It is not capable of accuracy down to a user specific lat/long – but it is fine if your target is broader, like a neighborhood versus a specific business. It appears that some marketers do not understand the in’s and out’s of location data types but, fear not, we have explained that in another one of our posts here.

There is also a critical misconception that mobile advertising is only for young audiences. Many marketers seem to think that mobile is only valuable to for reaching millennials and younger targets – but the stats prove that’s just not true. In fact, one out of every five people use their phone every five mins, the majority (63 percent) of smartphone owners worldwide use their mobile device at least every 30 minutes. Here in the U.S., 77 percent of all Americans own smartphones – from every age and every demographic!

One key takeaway for me was the observation that marketers still are not looking at location as a way of behavioral profiling & targeting. Their view seems limited to the basics of geo-fencing and geo-targeting. At Blis, we believe that where you go defines who you are and it is about understanding the movements of your audience to generate the most impactful advertising.

The IAB Mobile Symposium was an informative and well-organized event overall. There were lots of new ideas and helpful reminders shared. For me, it was a solid reminder that at Blis, we remain ahead of the curve in location advertising, and we have a lot of knowledge to share with the rest of the industry.

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Put Your Ad Dollars Where Your Consumers Are


Put Your Ad Dollars Where Your Consumers...

Across the world, mobile is our primary device. For browsing online or talking to friends, it’s the one we instinctively reach for and the one we always take with us on the go. In the US, spend on mobile has overtaken desktop : as consumers spend more time on their mobile devices, marketers worldwide hedge their bets – and their budgets – on the small screen.

In the Gulf countries, 9 in 10 or more own a smartphone, making penetration so high it casts a shadow over the rest of the MENA region, and in fact, most of the world. The region’s advertisers estimate that 70 percent of ads viewed are on mobile.

eMarketer predicts that mobile will account for 63.3 percent of digital and 24.3 percent of total global ad spend in 2017. Research also predicts that there will be 66% mobile phone users worldwide. Based on MENA consumer habits when it comes to all things mobile, we could expect to see a high media spend on mobile MENA but in fact, the opposite is true. Only 6 percent of ad dollars go to mobile platforms. A surprising figure for a lucrative, affluent market with one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world.

The risk of lagging behind

Mobile isn’t getting the attention it deserves from marketers in MENA because of a lack of understanding of how it can be used to reach target audiences, and an ingrained preference for traditional channels, especially outdoor and newspapers. But the rise of mobile in the Gulf market demands a quick and nimble response from brands who otherwise risk lagging behind the consumers they want to appeal to.

Fortunately, things may be about to change. From 2010 to 2015, MENA’s digital ad spend grew at a CAGR of 39 percent, which was the largest growth rate in the world, almost twice the figure of most other markets. 95 percent of MENA marketers are planning to allocate more budget to mobile, and over the next year, 63 percent plan on investing in mobile video, while 59 percent say the same about location data.

Making the most of mobile

Mobile is a unique and powerful opportunity for marketers where they can target their audience efficiently. Unlike desktop, your options aren’t limited to the home or office. At home and on the move, consumers are generating advanced location data that can inform sophisticated mobile campaigns.

Long-term, historical location data reveals insights that browsing history cannot, such as where someone spends their offline free time, and places they revisit often, whether it’s an art gallery or the mall. This information, unobtainable by any other means, builds a bigger, though anonymised, picture of individual customer behaviour and makes things easier for marketers who want to reach them.

Real-time location data, on the other hand, can be combined with information like search history and social media data for the kind of results that aren’t possible on other channels. Let’s say an affluent woman who regularly browses boutique fitness classes online is walking past a high-end sportswear store. That brand can entice her inside the shop by delivering an irresistible 15 percent off discount code. Plus, Blis’ Audience and Path tools can ensure the message isn’t accidentally delivered to the man next to her, and that any actions online or in-store are attributed back to that ad.

However, targeting on the go is not always appropriate, even on mobile. A 15 second video ad, for example, wouldn’t work for someone on the move. But once our hypothetical consumer gets home, and her phone connects to the WiFi, Blis’ Audience+ technology establishes relationships between her WiFi address and where she has been that day. This opens up the chance for brands to target her in the comfort of her own home, rather than pushing the wrong format at the wrong moment.

Who will bridge the Gulf’s mobile gap?

It is time to question whether ad dollars in the Gulf are following consumer behaviour and inspiring valuable actions with no media budget wastage. The region’s high smartphone penetration and affluent target market is a lucrative combination for marketers looking to implement savvy mobile strategies using advanced location data. Will brands operating in MENA continue to favour traditional channels, or grasp the opportunity to move the region’s marketing forward?

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The Mobile App Measurability Challenge for DSPs


The Mobile App Measurability Challenge for DSPs

Why I think the industry is not ready to bill off the viewable impression in mobile just yet.

Whilst Dan Wilson is paving the way for his futuristic turbo-charged data rocket-ship, see his blog here, I, on the other hand have been stuck firmly in the present grappling with the challenge of delivering viewable ad campaigns in mobile.

Blis’ in-house built DSP specialises in delivering ads to users based on their location data. Whilst the platform is device-agnostic, the location focus means that the majority of campaigns are delivered on mobile, and within that mobile app.

Along with ad fraud and brand safety, viewability is high on the agenda for brand advertisers, yet it’s only in the past year that they have started to enforce those standards by demanding to pay vendors on the viewable impression across all digital activity. It’s an approach that has been rolled out in certain markets and is being rapidly adopted across the industry. A savvy vendor knows that they must start offering value to their clients in the form of viewable ad campaigns.

That’s easier said than done, delivering viewable ads in mobile represents a significant challenge, especially for DSPs that buy across a wide range of publishers. At the heart of the matter is a lack of standards for measurement. As a result, Brands have taken matters into their own hands, partnering with their preferred third party verification platforms to define and implement their own. Finding a solution that fits all is extremely challenging.

Added to that is the fact that viewability tracking technology that works seamlessly in a web environment does not perform the same way in-app. The MRC confirmed as much in their ‘16 guidelines, stating that an MRAID based tracking solution is insufficient for measurement in mobile. Therefore for true measurement, the app must have integrated the third party content verification provider’s SDK integrated.

Most publishers and SSPs have realised a little late that they need to integrate these SDKs to facilitate viewability measurement. They are reacting now, but with the process of onboarding and rolling out the SDK being known to take as long as a year, there is still a huge deficit in measurable supply. At the time of writing, still as little as 10% of in-app programmatic supply is measurable*.

This takes us back to the issue of standardisation, with brands choosing different third parties to measure with, it means that publishers, in theory, have to onboard multiple SDKs to be measurable across all. The costs and dev work for doing this are unfeasible for smaller publishers. It also means that with some publishers working with one SDK, and others with another, not one vendor can provide complete visibility across the whole landscape. The IAB are addressing this with their initiative for an Open Source SDK, but it’ll be a while before this project has a significant impact.

In the meantime DSPs have to do what they can to deliver viewable ad campaigns in a largely blind environment. This a labour-intensive task involving manual optimisation towards measurable, and viewable, inventory. Once the costs of compensating for unmeasurable inventory and partnering with third parties are factored in, it’s an expensive operation too.

In my view, brands should strive for viewability but demands must be aligned with what is achievable within the industry. Until measurement is possible in-app, vendors should not be penalised for this; a stance seemingly supported by the IAB’s recent Viewability Status report. Ultimately, viewability shouldn’t detract from a consideration of other factors that drive campaign success such as time engaged with ad and post-exposure actions. It’d be a shame to blacklist app inventory for lack of measurability, when it is a truly optimised environment for the mobile device, and highly effective at driving brand engagement.

*according to Blis DSP.

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