This Is What Brands Need to Know About Mobile Safety

Kargo CMO Terri Walter talks fraud, creativity and ad blocking


Specs
Current gig CMO of Kargo
Previous gig CMO of PubMatic
Age 45

Adweek: You've worked for Microsoft and Razorfish, and most recently at PubMatic. What have you learned about building digital brands that applies to your new role at Kargo?
Terri Walter: I don't think that ad-tech companies are differentiated enough. We're in one of the toughest roles because we're marketing to marketers. We all need to bring that respect for branding into this industry. My expertise for bigger brands has been extremely helpful, but at the same time I'm also excited about not being constrained by the bureaucracy of bigger companies and trying to put fresh eyes and a millennial tone onto a company.

You just had a big Advertising Week campaign called "Do You Practice Safe Mobile?" Where did that come from?
We've been talking about mobile for years, but it is one of the most important topics on everyone's minds right now. We believe it's time to put mobile front and center. When you look at the issues going on right now, there's significant efforts at ad blocking, there's high viewability discussions, and we're moving toward more programmatic buying. We believe it's time to talk not just about mobile but how to do it well and how to think about quality and safety. Who are you working with? Do you know where your ads are running?

How big an issue is brand safety in mobile versus desktop advertising?
The safety issue is as big in mobile as it is in desktop, [but] the measurement is behind.

Everyone's struggling with the banner in mobile—they're still running teeny, tiny placements. And most of the video is still either 30-second or 15-second spots. Safety means a lot of things. It means fraud. It means context. It also means respecting the users in terms of their time and their experience. The development of ad blocking is consumers voicing that point of view.

How is Kargo moving the needle on mobile creative?
We just launched the first emoji measurement system, which lets consumers vote on whether they like ads in real time by using emojis. That's just one other way that we're working to help out the brands and publishers through creative to understand the context.

A lot of the debate has focused on publishers that lose money because ads are never served and brands aren't charged. When will advertisers become a bigger part of the discussion?
I do think that the conversation has been geared toward publishers because their business models depend on it. But it's critically important that everyone understands what is going on. More education needs to occur on what you can even do in mobile and how to have a really strong advertising strategy. Most of the CMOs that I've talked to have been focused on their owned-and-operated properties in mobile—their apps. But mobile advertising is also a part of that strategy and it's not just in social on Facebook or in search. It will become increasingly important this year for marketers to understand the impact that mobile's having on their brand.

This story first appeared in the Oct. 19 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.