This post is by Chris Childs, Managing Director, UK, TabMo.

Smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most important device for connecting to the internet in the UK (Ofcom Communications Market Report 2015). To engage with their target audiences, advertisers are therefore looking to run mobile campaigns, with programmatic trading increasingly a key element.

But for campaigns to be as effective as possible, mobile advertisers need to be proactive. The following issues should be explored in detail when looking for a programmatic provider:

1. Targeting - control, data and location

Advertisers need to take advantage of the unique benefits allowed by mobile, namely the ability to target based on location and context. For example, someone shopping in the high street on a Saturday will have different motivators to the same person shopping at an airport before they go on holiday. Today's technology facilitates pinpointing specific places where the target audience is likely to me more responsive to an ad and serving an ad that is relevant.

This requires the advertiser to have a high degree of control in terms of the data that the publisher makes available to them (in particular to ensure it is scalable). Advertisers also need to be able to use their own, first party, data to bring the personalisation required to make a mobile ad as relevant as possible.

The general rule of thumb is that this level of targeting is only available through advertising platforms built for mobile, rather than those that have a multi-channel offering.

2. Visibility and transparency

As an increasing amount of mobile inventory is made available, it is essential that marketers have visibility and control over where their ad will appear. A key requirement therefore is that the DSP (Demand Side Platform) is transparent about how it buys its inventory - direct from the publisher or via an ad network for example.

The days of 'blind networks' are disappearing and if advertisers can't see where they are buying, serious trust issues are raised that should act as a deterrent to working with the partner in question. This is fuelled by the rise in third parties that provide advertising intelligence data; advertisers can work with them directly if required, but should question why the mobile advertising platform is not undertaking this activity or, if it is, why it is not willing to share the outcomes.

3. Viewability and brand safety

Transparency is critical to ensure accurate targeting. It is also essential to ensure viewability and brand safety, issues that are as pertinent for mobile as for other digital advertising platforms. The mobile advertiser must be confident that the DSP has adequate measures in place to guard against unseen, unsafe or fraudulent inventory, again referring to independent data verifiers if necessary.

It is important to know the measures that the supply side platform (SSP) is taking. In this battle, pre-bid solutions, which block potentially fraudulent traffic before it reaches the inventory that is available are clearly a better prospect than post-impression options which only report back on the percentage of impressions that have been fraudulent.

As ever, the key is for the advertiser to take proactive steps to be in control.

4. Creativity - bridging the gap

Advertising is only effective if the relevant message is shown to the right audience at the right time. Precise, location-based targeting, as outlined above, is wasted if the creative does not match the context. Returning to the high street versus airport shopping example, the most effective ads for each rely on the ability to tailor the creative accordingly. The programmatic mobile ad platform must therefore have the capability to support the targeting decisions and auto-optimisations it makes with the right creative.

Marketers must also be vigilant about the format of their mobile ads; the 30-second TV commercial is rarely appropriate if placed before a short piece of mobile video content. Instead, the platform should be able to adapt the creative for the mobile screen.

5. Tracking ROI

As with any digital promotion, advertisers must track true ROI on mobile branding campaigns booked programmatically; low inventory costs do not necessarily equate to an effective return on investment. Selection criteria for the platform must therefore include its ability to report on goals such as time spent on the site, view-through rates and interactions.

But the advertiser also has a critical role to play. Firstly they must put measures in place to ensure they know how a specific mobile campaign has influenced consumer behaviour, for example through increased footfall in store or an uplift in sales.

Secondly, for measurement to be meaningful, advertisers must regard mobile as an integral part of their overall campaigns, rather than an 'add on', or a channel to be tested. This requires that they commit to investing significant budget in mobile advertising - making it all the more important that they select the right programmatic partner.