About Dale Carr

Dale Carr is the founder and CEO of LeadBolt. He has been directly involved in the technology industry since the tender age of 12 and prior to LeadBolt, co-founded a highly successful mobile content and technology company which was ranked as the Fastest Growing Company in Australia and 3rd Fastest in Asia Pacific. LeadBolt was launched in Mid 2010 to combat the overall deficiencies in the online advertising market and has since become one of the leading digital advertising network's in the world.

Will advertising enter the wearables market?

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The mobile device is personal. Most of us keep our phones or tablets less than 3 feet away from ourselves at any given time. It is the first thing we check in the morning and the last thing we look at before going to sleep. For many, our mobiles serve as our morning alarm, primary mode of communication, research tool when shopping, calculator, compass, and that’s not counting the millions of utility and entertainment apps available that keep our days humming along more efficiently.

So what’s even more personal than a mobile device? Well, computing is extending beyond mobile screens and will now be embedded into the products you wear. There are intelligent bras. And glasses, goggles, wristwatches, fitness trackers and jewelry to name a few – now with the ability to keep you connected and provide useful data in various fashionable forms. It’s still an emerging market, but we’re already seeing an explosion of new wearable products hitting the market. In fact, research firm ABI estimates the wearables market will hit $6 billion by 2018.

For advertisers, the draw to mobile is that the device is highly personal and relevant in the users’ lives. Given that nothing seems more personal than your bra or glasses, will this enthusiasm and interest to reach consumers transfer to the wearables market?

Let’s imagine the possibilities. Will a runner wearing a fitness tracker want to know if vitamins, athletic shoes or Gatorade is on sale at her local stores? Will a woman wearing an iPhone-connected bracelet/cuff appreciate a Starbucks deal delivered while passing its storefront? Will a skier enjoy the ability to retrieve a special offer for a free ski lift right from the slopes via the enabled goggles or wristwatch he is wearing? There’s infinite potential here.

Yet — There is a time and place for advertising. There is a responsibility toward safety and delivering messages in a manner that will not distract a user or be intrusive, but provide value. After all, that is the ultimate goal for any marketer – to win the hearts and minds of the end user.

Wearables are designed to deliver utility-based experiences and their success hinges on the usefulness of the data and insights delivered through the piece (as well as their form and style factor, which is raising the bar for tech design and aesthetics, but that’s a separate post altogether). That said, I believe advertising will have a place within wearables as the market matures, but respecting the inherent purpose of the wearable item will be the single priority and the toughest challenge for marketers and technology partners looking to embrace the next wave of computing.

Happy Holidays from all of us at LeadBolt

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As the Holiday Season is upon us, we find ourselves reflecting on the past year and on those who have helped to shape our business in a most significant way.

We want to personally thank you for choosing LeadBolt.  We are honored to work with the best and brightest developers and marketers in the business.  Your collaboration, feedback and support drive innovation and continually inspire us to deliver superior products that help grow your business.  We value this open relationship with the mobile community and look forward to achieving great things with you in the year to come.  Now and always, we remain committed to your continued success and to supporting your goals every step of the way.

We wish you a happy Holiday Season and New Year filled with peace and prosperity.

Sincerely,
Dale and the LeadBolt team

Posted in CEO

What “Entrepreneur of the Year” Means To Me

Print This week I was recognized as EY’s (Ernst & Young) Australian Entrepreneur of the Year™ for Technology.  It was a true honor for LeadBolt and an especially significant moment for me on a personal level, and I want to explain why.

Since winning this award, several people have asked me what motivates me, fuels my actions and keeps me going.  This question gave me pause.  I would like to take this special opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to my support system and share my perspective with a new crop of entrepreneurs or anyone pursuing their business vision.

I think there have been three key cornerstones to my success: the support of my family, persistence, and authenticity. Support is crucial when you are working 24 hours a day pursing a goal. With my family behind me and keeping me focused in one direction, my energies have been concentrated and my goals exceeded at every step.

For anyone working toward a dream, I cannot emphasize enough the power of persistence. When you believe in something, you must put your whole being into it and know you can succeed, because knowledge is an entire level above belief. I’ve always known that it’s not about whether or not I fall, it’s whether or not I get back up. And I do. One must always get back up.

Endeavor to be authentic. I got into the business because I was exceptionally passionate about technology. As someone who enjoys using mobile apps of all kinds – from banking apps to games, and everything in between – my desire to see the free app economy survive and thrive is authentic.

Participating in The Entrepreneur of the Year program has been a wonderful, enriching experience. My hope is that my involvement helps inspire a new crop of entrepreneurs and innovators to bring about their vision and build great things. I am very proud of the recognition I personally have achieved, but more so cherish the pride the whole LeadBolt team has taken in being part of the success. No man is an island and an entrepreneur, no matter how visionary, needs a dedicated team to execute and deliver.

Posted in CEO

Explaining & Navigating the Complex Mobile Advertising Ecosystem

Getting lost in the real world is never any fun. This is also  true when it comes to navigating the complex mobile advertising ecosystem that currently exists. The good news is that it is easy to get help whether you are a mobile advertiser, developer, or publisher. We are going to break down the various players involved in mobile marketing so that you do not get lost.

You Are Here

Before trying to reach your goals, you need to take a long, hard look at where you are currently. Only then can you begin to learn more about how all the other players in the complex mobile ecosystem may affect you.

  • Advertisers - When a brand wants to use mobile to reach consumers, they have a few different options available to them, including whether to go with a mobile ad network or to sell and serve the advertisements on their own.
  • Ad Agencies – One of the first places advertisers can stop is an ad agency. They will work with either an ad network (usually) or an ad exchange (rarely). Either way, this is usually the first step people take to get into mobile marketing.
  • Ad Networks - Ad networks work with both advertisers (sometimes through an ad agency) and publishers. They purchase large blocks of advertising which they resell to publishers. For many people, this is the easiest way to get started with mobile advertising.
  • Ad Exchanges - An ad exchange usually deals with multiple ad networks, aggregating their available inventory and making the ads available to publishers looking to fill ad slots. The problem here is that it is easy to get lost in the mix, especially if you’re a smaller developer or publisher.
  • Publishers - On the other end of the spectrum are publishers and developers – those who have ad space available for advertisers. This ad space can be sold without an agency, network, or ad exchange, but this may not lead to earning the most from the traffic.

Advertisers and publishers may not seem too far apart on the list above, but you need to factor the fragmentation of the mobile market into the equation. With so many people involved, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Other obstacles also exist for those who want to get into mobile.

One of the problems is that the mobile ad ecosystem is not as strictly delineated as the “Desktop Internet.”  With mobile advertising, the rules of the road change frequently depending on different combinations of device, wireless operator, and operating system. .

Mobile advertising still lacks a strong technical consensus that enables ad targeting, delivery, and measurement to work together seamlessly. This took a few years to accomplish online with the “desktop Internet.” As the mobile ad industry matures, it will likely become more streamlined and simple for everyone involved, but for now there are a lot of variables involved.

Want a Guide?

Having a guide to help you get the most from mobile marketing while not getting lost in the mix makes a lot of sense. Many advertisers, developers and publishers have already allowed LeadBolt to help them get from point A to point B without a lot of hassle or difficulties. If you are tired of trying to deal with all the small details and just want an easy way to get the most from mobile, we can help.

By staying on the leading edge of technology and keeping our eyes on the future, we are able to offer solutions that can work for you. At LeadBolt, we’re here to guide you through the complex mobile advertising ecosystem safely. Call or contact us today to “ask for directions” and make sure you reach your destination – a land where success is possible.

Posted in CEO

Do You Have a Separate Mobile Strategy?

Why an online only strategy is not enough these days…

Mobile is here to stay. The technology and business behind the industry is still evolving, but mobile devices are becoming more ubiquitous all the time. We are still in a transitionary period – with mobile usage growing faster than ad dollars are moving to mobile – but now is the time to embrace mobile and think seriously about how the technology can help the bottom line of your business as well as helping you attract new customers and grow.

Why a Mobile Strategy is Needed

Consider the following before making a decision on whether a dedicated mobile strategy is needed or not. Having a wide reaching “Internet strategy” is not enough these days.

  • Mobile is Different – Beyond the smaller screen size, mobile advertising is different than traditional marketing in many different respects. Understanding the different technologies that are available is tough without a specific plan to learn more about mobile.
  • Mobile is Growing – Consumers are searching, buying, communicating and playing on mobile devices more – and numbers are continuing to grow. All signs point to mobile playing a huge role in media consumption in the future.
  • Mobile is Complicated – In some ways, mobile advertising can be complicated and confusing for some people. Blindly struggling how to learn to make mobile work for you without a plan can make it even more complex.

How We Can Help

Here are some of the ways we can help you develop a mobile strategy that is right for you and your business.

  • Understanding the Options – One of the first things we can do is help you understand all of the options that are available to you. This is an important step before coming up with a mobile strategy for your company.
  • Answering Questions – Questions are common with those who are just beginning to develop a mobile marketing or publishing strategy. At LeadBolt, we make sure you have answers to all of your questions.
  • Coming up with a Plan – After explaining the options available and answering your questions, we can help come up with a plan that will work for your specific needs. The mobile strategy of each company is going to be different.
  • Offering Solutions – From mobile advertisers to marketers to developers to publishers, we have solutions for everyone. Coming up with questions and problems that need to be solved is the easy part of developing a mobile strategy. Having solutions you can put to use right away is another matter entirely.

If you do not have a separate mobile marketing strategy, you need to start planning for one right now. We can help. At LeadBolt, we have a staff of professionals who live and breathe the mobile industry. Whether you have a question on how we can help you develop a mobile ad strategy or you want to sign-up and get started implementing your own mobile plans right away, contact us today to learn more.

Posted in CEO

Contextual Advertising and Geo-Targeting: A Combination That Spells Success

Contextual advertising is often confused with geo-targeting. In fact, geo-targeting is a location-specific form of contextual advertising that presents users with local advertising relevant to their interests. Contextual advertising encompasses topic-based targeting, in-text hyperlinks and geo-targeted advertising methods. Each of these marketing methods can provide significant advantages to mobile app developers and advertisers. Taken together, however, they produce synergy that can boost traffic and increase sales in the mobile marketplace.

Understanding contextual advertising
Contextual advertising has dominated the online advertising field for a number of years. These advanced advertising strategies evaluate the content of a particular website or sites to provide advertising content likely to complement that content and meet the viewer’s needs. Contextual advertising essentially allows the consumer to self-select for the most relevant advertisements based on the content that consumer is currently viewing. Contextual strategies can be fine-tuned to include only ads in the local area, ads that relate directly to the topic or ads related to the subject matter of the application or webpage. Mobile advertising networks use contextual advertising techniques to monetize mobile apps and boost revenues for mobile-optimized content. These advertising methods increase the effectiveness of the marketing campaign by presenting relevant ads to the end user.

Geo-targeting
The mobile marketplace is an ideal environment for geo-targeted ads. Advances in GPS positioning and geo-location services in the mobile phone industry make it easier and more convenient for users to see only ads relevant to their interests. These advances are a boon for advertisers as well. They can choose to display their ads only in the areas where their brick-and-mortar businesses are located, allowing them to achieve more with the same marketing budget. Major search engines use this method to provide their users with local search options; geo-targeting pinpoints the audience and caters specifically to those located in the desired area or region.

Putting it all together
App developers and advertisers can achieve more by integrating both contextual advertising and geo-targeting into their collaborations. By including a few lines of code in the mobile app, developers can incorporate the revenue-building power of contextual advertising into their entire app. Application developers can choose to exclude specific categories of advertisements or certain advertisers; this can allow them to protect their branding and their reputation more effectively. For advertisers, the benefits of combining contextual advertising and geo-targeting are even more impressive:

• Contextual advertising allows the company’s marketing budget to be spent where it is likely to do the most good.
• By targeting consumers who are already predisposed to buy the products or services, companies can boost revenues and build name recognition in the mobile marketplace.
• Geo-targeting allows advertiser to achieve better ROI. Companies can focus their advertising budget to areas where they already have a physical presence, allowing them to get more bang from their buck.

The recipe for success
Combining contextual ads with geo-targeting is the most effective way to reach consumers in the frame of mind to buy. Each of these marketing methods offers significant advantages. When combined, they form a nearly unbeatable strategy that maximizes return on the advertising budget and increases revenues for app developers and advertisers alike.

 

 

Riding the rollercoaster – Understanding the Advertising Cycle

As the year comes to the halfway point, and media buying departments take a quick breath before they prepare to head down the “big” half of the year, it is worth reflecting on the cycles and trends that shape our industry.

Advertising budgets are an interesting place to start. Monthly, quarterly and yearly cycles govern spend patterns in the industry. Usually, you will see spikes towards the end of the month as agencies and advertisers scramble to use up their remaining budgets. I say usually as an advertiser may have used up their budget several days before the end of the month. This applies more so at the end of quarters – where the pressure could be increased to spend that little bit more, or budgets may have been exhausted a month ago. Mix in burst campaigns, holidays, big gaming days – it is enough to send developers crazy, when all they are trying to do is track their advertising revenue from one day to the next.

The next aspect to look at is how advertisers determine their bid price for advertising. This will directly affect eCPMs earned by developers.

Obviously, return on investment (ROI) is the underlying factor. However, circumstances such as competition, market conditions, shareholder expectations etc can affect how much advertisers are willing to spend. A company in the process of fund raising may spark of a bidding war as they try and grab market share, while another reaching their campaign budget early may see the price fall dramatically for the remainder of the period.

The last area to address is overall market trends. When we analyze the performance of banner ads, we don’t lament the 0.5% click through rates they used to get 10+ years ago. This is because the performance of any new product goes through various cycles. A few weeks ago I wrote an article titled “Where are those $100 eCPM ad types?” which looked at the hype cycle of advertising. The reality is that in our super-fast paced industry, the move from one stage of the cycle to the next is even quicker. So while a year ago developers were seeing $100 ecpm on certain high performance ad types, those earnings have equalized at $7-15 ecpm as we enter the “plateau of productivity”.

So what do you do as a developer to ensure you are earning as much as possible? Make sure you are looking macro, not micro. While it is important to be watching your earnings daily or even hourly, don’t get caught up in the peaks and troughs that can come from daily cycles. Compare this month to last, last quarter to this quarter. Are you heading in the right direction? Are your actual earnings better – not just your ecpm. But more importantly, be aware of the changing trends and new developments in the market. New ad types will provide peaks to developers who jump on them early.  But also expect earnings to steady out over time.

Nowadays, the advertising cycle is almost as wild as riding a roller coaster, but just as much fun.

 

 

Posted in CEO

Trust in Mobile Advertising

It has been well documented that consumer Trust plays a major factor in any form of marketing and advertising. The big question is how can we, as advertisers or developers showing these ads, positively affect this level of trust to increase our advertising performance? Additionally, does mobile advertising have different rules to the wider market or even the web?

Already in 2007, a study published by the Journal of Advertising Research found an interesting phenomenon in mobile advertising. While examining the role of trust in the mobile advertising and applications marketplace, their conclusion was that consumer trust is in-fact a major factor in the receptiveness and response to the advertising campaign and to the application on which it was displayed. However, more interestingly, the study showed that this correlation was much stronger for ads focused on durable goods. Consumers were more open to ads for services and nondurable goods, even from companies they had not previously heard about and with which they had had no dealings in the past. This indicates that trust may be easier to come by in the mobile sphere. Why would this be?

Building trust
In the mobile app marketplace, trust is already a key to success and expansion. Positive reviews and a professional presentation can help to build trust, but it is the quality and utility of the application and its associated advertising that are most important in retaining consumer confidence. Consumers demonstrate their trust in a number of ways:

• By downloading the application to their mobile phones, consumers show confidence that the application is both functional and free of any damaging code or programming.
• Using the application certifies that the consumer finds it entertaining, functional or otherwise worthwhile.
• Recommending the application to others is the most direct evidence of trust in both the application and in its general usefulness.

Mobile apps are judged by their performance and quality; by consistently creating unique and useful apps for end users, developers can create a brand name that engenders trust and respect in the mobile marketplace.

So building trust in the medium itself (ie the app), increases the trust a consumer will have in the advertising they are seeing. But another key factor cannot be ignored. The regulation imposed by the various marketplaces, creates a strong level of trust for consumers that the apps they download are bona-fide. This means that the trust starting point for all apps is already relatively high. This is a positive for advertisers and developers alike.

Clever repetition is the key.
So what else can advertisers do to further increase the trust consumers place in mobile advertisements? Numerous studies have shown that repeated exposure to advertising materials builds brand recognition among consumers, however, evidence also suggests that frequent exposure to the same advertising can actually produce a negative effect over time. By varying the commercial messages and keeping the company’s ad content fresh, mobile advertisers can achieve the benefits of brand recognition without risking backlash from too many repetitions of the same ad.

The final piece of the puzzle.
The last area of trust is built up by ensuring that there is relevancy between the ads shown and the place they are displayed. This is where LeadBolt helps our network partners increase consumer confidence. We spend much of our time developing cutting edge technology to increase consumer engagement for the ads we show. This means ensuring relevancy, but also imposing rigorous approval processes for all ads and apps so that you guys can trust that your consumers will increase their trust in you and your assets.

This harmonious relationship between developer, advertiser, market place and ad network, means you can continue to build trust and achieve superior results through increased downloads, boosts in sales and improved reputation of your product and services.

 

Posted in CEO

Making the Right First Impression

We all know that making the right first impression on consumers is critically important, especially in the mobile app and advertising fields. While we may try and laugh off a silly mistake that we feel does not have a material impact on our product or advertising campaign, the reality is any mistake, even typographical or grammatical errors can create an unprofessional image that can impact usage and sales.

I am sure everyone is now familiar with the lessons Mitt Romney’s political campaign recently learned. His iPhone app was intended to allow supporters to add a pre-loaded slogan to their own photos to create a unique political marketing image. The slogans were created and approved by Romney’s own political campaign. However, along with slogans like “I Stand with Mitt”, users were also presented with “A Better Amercia.” The typo went viral within hours of the initial release of the iPhone app and dominated the news cycle for several days following its discovery, damaging the effectiveness of the application and undercutting the political message of the Romney campaign.

An even worse example of typographical disaster occurred in South Bend, Indiana, when billboards designed on behalf of the school system read “15 best things about our pubic schools.” The fallout was immediate and significant.

Professional accuracy pays
Most mobile application designers understand the importance of accuracy in the programming field. A typographical mistake in the code can lead to a variety of unintended errors and extensive debugging efforts. However, the same degree of accuracy is necessary in order to present a professional and positive image of the application and its designer. The most elegant code in the world will not save an app that features poor grammar, slipshod spelling and an overall unprofessional appearance. By ensuring that both the code and the user interface are functional and free of both critical and cosmetic errors, app designers can ensure that their reputation and their products are judged fairly in the competitive marketplace.

Projecting a positive image
The need for clean, error-free copy is even greater in the advertising field. Consumers often base their initial impression of the company’s goods or services on these ads. As a result, typographical or grammatical errors can cause serious damage to the company’s reputation, especially in the areas of attention to detail, professionalism and quality of the products and services being offered. The wrong impression can be difficult to correct, so it is vital to proofread every piece of advertising copy carefully and to test it thoroughly before allowing it to go live on the mobile advertising network.

With all the hard work we all put into to getting our product to consumers, the little extra time to make sure everything is 100% is well worth the effort. And once you are sure that your app and / or campaign is ready to go – that is when you can turn to us to make sure it delivers the ROI you are after.

Brand power is about finding relevancy through Apps!

I read recently in the blogosphere that “The challenge for global brands in mobile is finding relevancy to the various activities a consumer may be performing at any given time”

While this is likely a fair assessment of the challenge that brands are perceiving, what I find surprising is that brands think that relevancy in mobile is a big challenge at all. For me it suggests that brands are perhaps overcomplicating the “challenge” and as a result missing the unique opportunities that mobile advertising represents.

Notwithstanding the mobile sphere’s unique ability to link to a consumer’s activities, just the statistics on the mobile revolution underway says that brands should be leaping at the opportunity mobile represents.

It’s been well stated that the number of mobile connected devices will exceed the world’s population within the next 2 years. Already its quoted that 4.8 billion people worldwide own a mobile phone and that as the smart phone revolution continues apace, a significant proportion of these devices will be more powerful that the leading computers of yore.

When you consider that tablets are taking over from desktops it’s clear that the inversion of first and third screen labeling is well underway with mobile the clear winner.

It makes sense, why rush home to check something online when you can do it right where you are standing. Where-ever that is!

And here’s the rub, where you are standing, right now in the midst of your activities is precisely the point of relevancy brands should be targeting. What could be more powerful than Nike ads when I’m at the tennis, Gucci ads while I am shopping and Starbucks ads whilst I am searching for coffee?

And it’s not even hard to achieve! Sure we can talk about clever targeting with geo-location and the like, but these miss the most significant phenomenon of the smart phone – Apps. Apps are the glue that drive relevancy. There are increasingly becoming the infrastructure that drives our lifestyles. How often have you heard people say – There’s an app for that.

But it’s more than brands building their own apps. It’s using the explosion of apps with their typical narrow application focus as a leverage point into the growing communities of users orientated around a particular lifestyle choice. This is incredible relevant to global brands.

It’s Nike dominating the advertising in the range of sporting apps available. It’s Gucci owning the ad space on the shopping comparison/preview apps and Starbucks right there on the daily deal apps just prior to that the coffee decision being made.

Brands are running behind but the mobile ad networks have already started building big app developer communities integrated and ready for innovative and successful ad type based campaigns. If they want to stay relevant, brands should be reaching out to users through mobile apps as a must-do item.

Posted in CEO