Getting ad servers to talk to tablets
Publishers have been quick to create shiny new iPad apps that represent a ripe new advertising revenue opportunity, but the technology for serving and managing these ad campaigns has yet to catch up.
One challenge for publishers, according to FTI Consulting's Bruce Benson, is the integration of existing online ad servers with new tablet editions. FTI Consulting has enlisted software developer GlobalLogic to help resolve this headache for publishers with an application that translates ad serving technology to tablets.
“Ad servers don't know how to talk to tablets,” Benson, senior managing director and global leader of FTI's Entertainment and Media Practice, said at a briefing in New York on Tuesday. For instance, online ad servers can't track tablet impressions that happen offline — a real problem when you consider recent research from Forrester that found that almost half of the people who read downloaded magazines do so offline, Benson noted.
He also said many publishers are providing interactive ads for iPad editions not through ad servers but via their content management systems, which lack the capability to communicate with tablets.
The solution GlobalLogic and FTI are introducing would solve the “lack of communication” problem for publishers, enabling advertising servers to serve and track ads to tablet editions.
Here's how it works: The application, or “ad delivery supervisor,” sits between the ad server and the publisher's app. Using whatever ad targeting capabilities are already in the ad server, the system decides which ads to serve on the tablet device. The application then tracks behavior both online and offline, which it reports back to the ad server to track. The below flow chart from FTI illustrates how it works (FTI's proposition is within the dotted line):
The open-source solution is agnostic to content management systems and ad servers, Benson said. The current application is designed for the iPad, but the company will supply code for Google's forthcoming Android tablets as well, he said. The software can be used for both digital editions and utility-oriented apps (e.g. Rodale's Runner's World app).
The free solution will be available to publishers through FTI. (More information about the software will be available this week on FTI's website.)
The goal is to allow existing ad servers to serve ads to tablets so publishers don't have to change their existing technology, Benson said in an interview. Right now, “you might as well be trying to plug your American plug into a French socket,” he said.
For FTI, the move is part of the consulting firm's efforts to work with publishing clients on revenue strategies, Benson said. He sees tablets as an opportunity for publishers to receive print-level rates from mobile content, if the right technology is in place.
“We're trying to enhance the revenue opportunities for the publishers … by making it possible to serve high-value ads on a targeted basis into their content,” Benson said.