The unknowns of mobile advertising

By Jake Kreinberg

A Columbia University business professor says that media organizations are uncomfortable with new advertising technologies because they don’t know what the return on investment will be. But with audiences increasingly on mobile, there’s a huge need to figure it out.

Editor’s note: We spoke with Miklos Sarvary, a professor of business at Columbia University, about his research on media organizations’ apprehension with implementing new advertising technologies. To hear other perspectives from this series, click here.

What are the unknowns of mobile advertising?

Miklos: In this new paradigm, new advertising technologies are being developed. And it takes a long time before we learn how to use effectively these advertising technologies. Today, everybody’s on mobile all the time, so there’s a huge need to shift budgets.

But people are very uncomfortable with the advertising technology – they don’t know what the return on investment they’ll get. They don’t know what people’s responses will be. Little banner ads on a small screen are not that exciting.

So when is it exciting? How can you make it exciting? How can you target it? How can you link it to other advertising campaigns? Those are the kind of questions that we are exploring.

Jake Kreinberg

Jake is the text and multimedia product manager at The Associated Press and the former editor of Insights. He previously covered college sports as a reporter for AP and helped design its multi-year strategic plan. Have feedback about the blog? Contact us at

insights, strategy series 2015