The need for effective mobile measurement

Data reports and statistics are wide and vast around the increasing use of mobile devices and the related tie to brands moving more advertising dollars to smartphones, tablets, phablets and all things mobile.

For example, global mobile advertising spending is forecast to reach US$18 billion in 2014, up from the estimated US$13 billion in 2013, according to Gartner. In addition, research released by TNS and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Australia shows that marketers and publishers who are not investing in mobile advertising risk being left behind.

The 2nd Annual IAB/TNS Mobile Landscape Study* found that experienced marketers are already using more sophisticated metrics and are open to increasing their budgets, with the expectation that two-thirds of display campaigns will have a mobile component by 2016. However, the study has also found that the number one barrier to further investment in mobile advertising is weaknesses in measurement.

In the mobile space, a perceived lack of transparency in advertising makes some marketers reluctant to get involved. Some industry players have in the past delivered on mobile marketing campaigns with the promised number of advertising clickthroughs. The problem is that it is not always explained where the ads were displayed, meaning that there is little assurance that the clickthroughs came from people within the targeted audience.

The holy-grail in advertising has always been to link campaigns directly back to actual conversions, whether those campaigns have been outdoor, broadcast, print, or digital. The links are sometimes questionable, even for non-mobile campaigns. Offering a discount coupon in a newspaper may provide customer demographics, but depends on someone actually spotting the coupon in the newspaper in the first place and then remembering eventually to use the coupon; typically, the brand may not know where that newspaper was purchased.

Online and mobile campaigns do go one better by being able to tell brands where the ad was displayed and then measuring how many people actually click on an ad, but clickthroughs can be quite far removed from actual conversions. An integrated campaign for a brand that yields a substantial increase in fans for a social media page can say next to nothing about whether those fans are from the target audience. Even less is known about whether these fans will actually start to consume a product a service from that brand if they are new to the brand, or if they will increase consumption as existing customers.

There are now more reliable methodologies for ad effectiveness, which work especially well for the mobile space. Advertising platforms can work with partners to identify customers with the desired demographics to viewing mobile ads, providing more peace of mind that the right eyeballs are being targeted.

And rather than tying key performance indicators (KPIs) to intermediate measurements such as ‘likes,’ we can go straight to measuring more tangible behaviours associated with conversions – including foot traffic in a physical store for example, or even whether the target audience is actually buying more from the brand during the campaign period.

To ensure that any positive behaviour isn’t pure coincidence, the classic ‘A/B’ method of comparing behaviour can be used: separate the target audience into two groups, one of which is not exposed to the mobile ad campaign. If the group which sees the mobile ads ends up with different KPIs compared to the group which does not see them, this is valuable information about customer behaviour.

Brands need to choose their advertising platforms carefully if they want to leverage such mobile ad campaigns, however. Other than due diligence on reputation, experience and results, it is key is to consider whether the platform is working with the right partners, too. Campaigns of this nature may need to identify the target audience through IP addresses while maintaining customer privacy, or team up with loyalty card programs in order to deliver the results as promised.

Mobile ad measurement can be more effective today, not only in targeting audiences and serving ads, but also in how campaign effectiveness is measured. Advertising needs to be where most of the eyeballs are. The right mobile ad campaign will help you get there.

The writer is Robert Woolfrey, managing director APAC, Millennial Media

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