Millennial Media’s Mollie Spilman: ‘Native advertising is misunderstood on mobile’

MWC 2014: Native advertising is “still misunderstood on mobile”, according to Mollie Spilman, executive vice president of global sales and operations at mobile ad network Millennial Media.

Former Yahoo CMO advises marketers to consider the context mobile native ads are served in rather than just creative.

The former Yahoo chief marketing officer told Marketing Week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that despite the rise of the native advertising practice on desktop sites, many CMOs still underestimate the power of mobile for their brand campaigns.

She added: “CMOs still say the screen is so small for great creative, whereas TVs are getting bigger and bigger and I like being able to watch my ad on this big plasma screen. I think that philosophy is going to change as marketers get more experience in this and see what can be done on mobile devices.”

Spilman says marketers need to understand a native format on mobile is not just a type of creative but could also include proximity to a dealership for an automobile manufacturer, for example, or making use of the handset’s camera and voice recognition capabilities for users to interact with the ad. She also referenced Unilever’s CMO Keith Weed who has previously said the future of marketing is a combination of mobile and social.

She added: “If you take the Dove Real Beauty sketches campaign, that was a digital video made viral by mobile and social. That impact could not have been achieved on TV alone…Has every other brand embraced mobile to the degree they should? No.”

Building measurement capabilities is key to driving up brand use of mobile, Spilman said, although she admitted there are not currently the same cross-industry standards in mobile as there are in other media sectors such as TV, which may be holding back growth.

“Mobile is harder than other sectors because there are different operating systems to deal with, different handsets, app stores, data plans and so on. But it is improving as trade bodies, marketers, agencies and companies like us are coordinating to better measure the effect of mobile,” she said.

Millennial Media itself releases an annual report looking back at mobile device trends. In 2013 Android devices accounted for 54 per cent of the ad impressions served on its network, while iOS devices made up 38 per cent of impressions.

Other highlights from the report were predictions that impressions served to wearable devices are set to grow by 947 per cent in 2014 and household appliances by 469 per cent.

Millennial Media this morning (25 February) announced the expansion of its media exchange into 20 additional countries as well as updates to its targeting options to reflect specific interests and demographics.

A number of companies including Weve in the UK and Twitter in the US following its acquisition of MoPub last year have recently started competing with the likes of Millennial and Google in the mobile ad network space. Spilman said rather than seeing these new entrants as a threat, Millennial would look to partner where appropriate on a publisher level.

Read more of our Mobile World Congress 2014 coverage here

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here