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Smart phone inventory offers brands an escape from the walled gardens

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Smart phone inventory offers brands an escape from the walled gardens


Mobile marketers are facing a number of obstacles. Regulators have cracked down on data collection, Apple has positioned itself as a privacy champion, and Google is killing the cookie. With so much inventory losing value, marketers are looking toward partnerships with original device manufacturers (OEMs) to escape the limitations of walled gardens.

Ad platforms from Samsung and Xiaomi offer built-in inventory seen by hundreds of millions of monthly users. It doesn’t matter what social network, browser, or adblocks are being used. Let’s explore how direct manufacturer partnerships allow marketers to bypass diminishing mobile adaptions of the major ad platforms. Then allowing to reach new audiences through home screens and other highly viewable placements.

Apple and Google’s diminishing mobile ad options 

Following the release of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency Framework (ATT), iOS users have to opt-in to allow apps to track them. This is severely limiting many of the tools that mobile marketers depend on for targeting and personalisation. Apple does still provide guaranteed personalised ad placements. However, it’s only on its own apps and only if the user opts in. These options are following a prompt that is much more friendly than the opt-in messages presented for other apps.

Apple Search Ads only offers two placement options: a promotion displayed at the top of search results. Or, for advertisers who shell out for Apple Search Ads Advanced, at the top of the suggested apps list. No option is provided to advertise apps anywhere else. This limits the audience to those already browsing the app store and searching for apps. 

Google — which is almost entirely dependent on advertising revenue — is treading more carefully on Android. It has announced Privacy Sandbox for Android, the phase-out of third-party cookies, and eventual replacement of Google Advertising ID (GAID), but is also exploring privacy-compliant targeting through Topics and audience segmentation through FLEDGE. The impact these changes will have on mobile advertising on Android remains to be seen.

The advertising opportunities of OEM inventory

OEMs provide open ground for ad placement. For example, Samsung provides placements for recommended apps directly within the operating system as well as inventory in the proprietary apps that come preinstalled on their smartphones. Most people do not change their device’s default settings. This means that millions of users encounter OEM ad inventory multiple times every day.

Ads on Samsung are also more relevant than those displayed on iOS. The ads still take into account user interests as well as integrate with other Samsung devices via the Samsung Ads platform. Non-consenting users on iOS will not see relevant ads and will therefore be less likely to pay attention.

All major OEMs, such as Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo, provide similar on-device and in-app ad placement options to secure additional revenue streams beyond the sale of the device itself. In addition to placements on preinstalled apps and home screens there are Mi Ads advertising platform offered by Xiaomi. Xiaomi is the third largest mobile manufacturer in the world. It reaches over 280 million monthly active users across more than 200 regions. This makes it the most popular vendor in the rapidly growing Indian smartphone market.

As these advertising platforms are provided directly by the OEMs who have complete control of the user experiences on their devices, they provide advertising opportunities unaffected by Apple policies. On-device inventory can also bypass all but the most determined ad blockers, which are used by an estimated 27 percent of internet users.

Apple is just another OEM in  APAC

Apple enjoys a 57 percent market share in Australia. Marketers might fall into the trap of assuming the whole target audience does too. The reality for the wider region is quite different. In Asia, Samsung takes first place with 25 percent of the market share, Xiaomi takes 18 percent. Apple comes third at 17 percent. Even in Australia, there is a significant section of the population that sits outside the reach of Apple’s IOS system. These users are within the reach of inventory through a different OEM.

We may even see Android OEMs gain ground in markets traditionally secured by Apple. Inflation has hit the US and UK hitting a 40-year high. Europe forecasted for 8.6 percent inflation. Australia facing its own cost of living crisis. As such, consumers are going to be far more price-sensitive with purchasing decisions. In such a climate, Apple’s high-end positioning for its products could backfire. This could more consumers to opt for cheaper Android OEMs — and all the ad inventory that comes with them.

OEM advertising offers a wealth of opportunity for mobile marketers tired of having mobile budgets buffeted by constant ad policy changes. Especially those who work on campaigns in regions where Apple is just another player. Not only that, this inventory is unique in its positioning on a consumer’s device, from the home screen to the lock screen, which makes it high-value real estate for any brand looking to reach and resonate with audiences at scale. 

Adib Karbouj is the head of ad operations, BcnMonetize.


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