American Marketer


What can the Wolf of Wall Street teach us about mobile marketing?

September 30, 2014

Fred Hsu is cofounder/CEO of Manage Group Fred Hsu is cofounder/CEO of Manage Group


By Fred Hsu

Aside from the copious amounts of scandalous activity, great acting and astounding cinematography, “The Wolf of Wall Street” brought some serious trading issues to light. At the time, individuals were making astonishing amounts of money in devious ways – they made a business out of taking advantage of the clients who were confused by the trading methods and about what they were buying.

So now, 25 years later, what does the Wolf’s shady business practices teach us about analyzing today’s media landscape?

For one, mobile advertising methods have recently been brought into question by a small proportion of companies exploring the benefits of ad trading.

With so many companies laying claim to the possibility of delivering ads across a compound framework of inventory with the highest value at the lowest price, it can often be hard for brand marketers to identify what success should look like and what value for their money is.

While the majority of companies that are building out the space are nothing like the infamous Stratton Oakmont, a small number of them have the power to skew general perceptions on current advertising trading methods.

Although organizations are focused on delivering a profit, many agencies are doing so with truly remarkable technologies that are often overlooked for their quality and innovation – especially those agencies that are able to monetize the Web while keeping it free for the general public.

With that in mind, here are a few pieces of advice on how to best steer clear of any potential Jordan Belfort-like middlemen during your ad trading efforts:

Be aware of what you need for your campaign, and be upfront what you are looking for from an agency. Mobile agencies and their affiliates need to add value.

The main point to take note of here is whether they are giving reasons for their costs or simply adding costs without providing any redeemable benefit.

Therefore, you are perfectly within your rights to ask what specifically you will be paying for in your contract. Is it consultancy, technology or simply just a margin of cost as an intermediary?

Expert consultancy and the latest technologies are certainly worth the additional price. Yet, it is also important to be aware that it does not take much to be convinced to buy something you do not need.

To lessen the likelihood of this happening, it is often wise to refer to companies that are leading the way in the mobile industry.

Consider the relationship as an open and ongoing discussion, not a one-time business transaction. Take the time to learn and understand the mobile agency you are working with for your campaign.

Learn about their business and objectives and build a relationship of trust and confidence so that both parties feel comfortable sharing campaign and business data.

Success is accelerated through collaborative data learnings, which do not happen in a lightweight and transactional client-to-partner relationship.

Therefore, if a client is prepared to share their data around post-click activities – intent to purchase metrics, registrations and revenue – then media spend can be optimized to reach maximum performance and yield.

Client relationships make a difference. You should always feel empowered in your relationship with a provider, as it is imperative to keep the communication open so that you are aware of how your strategy is performing at any given time.

Is your provider generating significant return on investment? Is it reporting consistent performance? Are you speaking with the provider frequently enough to get these answers?

These are all things you should be asking yourself.

SO THERE YOU have it: a short look into how brand marketers should be thinking about mobile marketing.

There is still no doubt that mobile is still fragmented, and that there is a sizeable disparity between the good companies that are providing added value and those that are not.

Even though it can be a confusing place for marketers, being aware of all the points mentioned above can give you the confidence you need to employ qualified and knowledgeable people.

In doing so, you gain a valuable partner who can offer insights into how to best reach your intended audiences and help to ensure the success of your mobile marketing campaign.

Fred is cofounder/CEO of Manage Group Inc., a San Francisco-based mobile real-time bidding buyer across all the major mobile ad exchanges. Reach him at