March 11th, 2019

IAB’s Susan Borst Is Tackling Major Issues To Help Mobile Advertising Thrive



As the VP of Mobile for the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), Borst is highly aware that mobile isn’t just the future of online advertising: it has become the industry’s present-day reality. When Tapjoy reached out to discuss her experiences, she offered more insights than we could contain in a single article. Here’s part one of our discussion.

What We Learned:

  • Storytelling Is A Mobile Marketing Game Changer – Recent changes to native advertising, content marketing, and social media suggest that storytelling is the way forward for mobile brands.
  • Mobile’s Priority Should Be To Thrive, Not Just Grow – For years, the priority for IAB was largely to support growth. For 2019 and beyond, the IAB mission is to empower the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy.

Thanks so much for chatting with us! Can you tell us about IAB and your role within the organization?

IAB is a digital trade organization with over 700 members that sets standards and guidelines for the digital advertising industry. I lead the IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, which is an independent unit that sets the IAB mobile agenda.  We work closely with various committees as well as the Data and Video Centers of Excellence and IAB Tech Lab to ensure that our strategic imperatives answer real industry needs.

How does IAB and IAB Tech Lab work together?

Our shared goal, whether it’s IAB or IAB Tech Lab, is to ensure that the digital industry continues to thrive. For a long time our mission was to help it grow. Growth is not an issue anymore. We know mobile is a significant driver of that.

What we need to do now is address pressing issues, which vary depending on the business needs at-hand. Ad blocking, viewability, measurement, and so on. Today, there’s a lot of focus on public policy and privacy, starting with GDPR and moving into California Consumer Privacy Act. IAB has a dedicated office in DC advocating on behalf of the industry, it’s super important. We have a dedicated website that is a great resource for everything and is up to date.

IAB is constantly publishing compelling, actionable content for mobile marketers. What are some of the most interesting insights you’ve been able to surface?

Ohhh, that’s a big question. Every initiative is important. We lean on our Mobile, Data and Video Centers of Excellence Board members so much because there’s lots we could potentially talk about. We need to focus in on the things that really matter. That’s why member engagement is critically important to us. And the participation in these various Boards, committees, and councils is, in fact, the number one benefit members tell us they get from joining  IAB.

On the topic of Opt-in Value Exchange, an IAB working group came together to develop a comprehensive playbook to help brands and their agencies understand this emerging format that is being used across the digital ecosystem, from games, music and dating apps/sites, and even in OTT.  There is existing research that shows that consumers generally like, and even prefer, these type of ads. What we need to prove is that they’re also paying attention to the ad. On that front, the issues on the research side are:

  • What kind of ad are you talking about?
  • What category are you talking about?
  • Does this apply to non-gaming apps such as music or OTT?
  • Is it a new brand versus an existing brand?
  • Is the creative good?
  • Is the creative not good?

All these points are going to factor in. After all, if a brand has a 30-second TV commercial, is that really what consumers really want to see while playing a mobile game or while listening to their favorite music streaming service?  We need to think about the consumer experience and what they are expecting in different mobile environments.

What are the most impactful mobile trends you’ve seen emerge during your time at IAB? Are there any important trends we’ve only just started to recognize?

I think one of the biggest game changers is the role of storytelling, which manifests itself in things like native advertising, content marketing, and social media in general. Ad spend on social media has exploded in just the past five to six years. Influencer marketing is exploding. So is the use of user-generated content in a host of ways. The emphasis on storytelling is about brands trying to engage with consumers in more authentic and relatable ways. These are all areas that IAB has addressed them in some way, shape, or form with educational pieces designed to help the buy-side understand their options and  best practice considerations.

I think in terms of what’s on the horizon, definitely voice recognition is something that should be on the radar. It’s there. It’s still early in the game from an advertising perspective. But as we see more home device adoption, voice will be a game-changer. We’ll start to see some action this year, but we’re probably looking five, ten years for it to truly realize its potential.

Check in with Tapjoy in the near future for the rest of our conversation with Susan Borst. In the meantime, brush up on your mobile fundamentals with “What Is In-App Marketing?”, a deep dive into strategies and tips for developing your own unique in-app campaigns.

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