Spend on mobile advertising is growing at a terrific pace but it will not reach its full potential until brands can more accurately measure the effectiveness of their campaigns.
According to the latest IAB and PwC Digital Adspend study published in April, the amount of money spent on digital grew at its fastest rate for seven years (16.4%) to £8.6bn. Mobile spend alone was up 60% to £2.6bn.
Given that time spent on mobile devices was up 117% in 2015 compared to the year before across all ages, according to a report by Flurry – the mobile analytics company owned by Yahoo – there is no doubt audiences are growing.
Yet despite the time people spend on their phones, brands and their agencies continue to have concerns over transparency, brand safety, viewability and fraud.
Director of mobile at Yahoo, Shan Henderson, says this has created a disconnect between the considerable amount of time people spend on mobile and potential advertising budgets.
“If brands had more confidence in measurement they could manage their ad campaigns more effectively and marketers and agencies would think about mobile earlier and put more money into the creative,” he says.
“Brands should harvest the data they have and spend more time analysing which platforms they use to improve targeting and tracking.”
Marketers therefore need to know which mobile device consumers are using and how they are reacting to mobile apps and closed platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat rather than just measuring mobile browser activity.
“It is important to consider the impact of mobile web visitors beyond your typical web conversion metrics, especially the local impact on retail estates“
Adam Cartlidge, Carphone Warehouse
Will Hattam, CMO at media owner and advertiser Archant, which publishes the Eastern Daily Press in Norfolk and the Ham & High in London, agrees that measurement and creativity are both serious challenges.
He says mobile advertising can be disruptive to the user experience so brands must constantly track what different consumers are doing on mobile websites and hone their messaging for specific audiences.
“The advertising must be engaging, add value to the user or focus on delivering content that a person can stream to view,” says Hattam.
If brands can measure the return on investment (ROI) accurately, they will invest more money in mobile.
Costa uses Google’s demand-side platform DoubleClick to create programmatic display campaigns and tested targeting technology during activity to build awareness of its ‘Ice Fruit Cooler’ range.
The campaign was designed to reach consumers within a 25-metre radius of any of Costa’s 2,000 coffee shops and encourage them to drink in its stores rather than in a competitor’s. The technology was tested alongside other location mobile strategies. As performance on the platform improved, agency Zenith’s trading and activation team allocated more budget.
“We are expanding our mobile advertising because we recognise how local targeting can help drive customers into our stores,” says Costa’s head of marketing Kirstey Elston. “By using mobile advertising we can effectively target those consumers who are on-the-go and reach them with relevant creative and calls to action. We serve them ads that put our range front of mind and make them consider coming to Costa even when they are walking past a competitor store.”
Previously the chain had used an approach based around a hyper-local private marketplace. The campaign for the Ice Fruit Cooler range outperformed previous activities, resulting in 82% extra reach, a 32% higher click-through rate, a 30% lift in engagements around competitors’ stores and 60% lower cost per thousand impressions (CPM).
Of course customers demand information regardless of their location. For other high street retailers there is a need to accept that mobile advertising plays a major part in consumers’ buying decisions even when someone is standing in a physical store.
Adam Cartlidge, head of digital innovation at Carphone Warehouse, says 29% of customers who purchase in-store use their mobile as part of the purchase process. “So it is important to consider the impact of mobile web visitors beyond your typical web conversion metrics, especially the local impact on retail estates,” he says.
Cartlidge adds that Carphone Warehouse measures its mobile activity separately. “In some cases our mobile activities have different key performance indicators because we know that mobile is used at a different part of a customer’s journey than a tablet or desktop,” he says.
“We are always reviewing what technology is available to improve [our mobile advertising] and make [it] more effective. This includes beta technology activity, which specifically relates mobile device usage to in-store visits and purchases.”
Marketers do want ad technology companies to work harder to explain to them and their agencies the benefits and accuracy of different measurement tools.
At an event on mobile trust and transparency hosted by technology company Integral Ad Science in London in April, much of the discussion focused on whether marketers are getting what they pay for when they buy mobile advertising.
Measuring viewability and avoiding fraud are two huge concerns for the industry. An ad is considered viewable if it meets the IAB and US Media Rating Council’s recommendation that 50% of it is in view for at least one second.
At present, 46% of ads are not viewable according to a study by ad verification company Meetrics, meaning marketers are wasting £600m on unseen ads annually.
Many brands would also like more data on non-incentivised media. This would help them determine who is choosing to click on a mobile ad without being rewarded for doing so, considering traffic generated from non-incentivised campaigns is considered to be higher quality.
Daniel Spears, head of Response+ at Guardian News & Media, gave a publisher’s view at the event and advised advertisers to tread carefully when creating impact so they do not intrude on someone’s user experience.
“There has to be a balance between targeting and privacy to build consumer trust. This includes following IAB guidelines to make it clear whether content is ad-funded or editorial,” says Spears.
“There are certainly challenges when it comes to transparency, viewability and brands knowing where their ads have been seen. Advertisers and agencies should make more use of the depth of data held by publishers.”
More than 50% of engagements on business-to-business social network LinkedIn now happen on mobile. The brand can see how members consume content through real-time analytics to track engagement through to conversion and sales.
LinkedIn is also using tagging and surveys to measure brand impact, according to its director of marketing solutions Henry Clifford-Jones. “The challenges marketers face when measuring the effectiveness of mobile campaigns are not unique to us,” he says.
“Brands have moved from monologue to dialogue with their customers. Their renewed focus on engaging consumers with meaningful content blurs the lines within the marketing attribution model.”
He suggests there is a difference in engagement between mobile and desktop, and that shorter content drives the best results.
“You need to understand the context in which content is being consumed, not just the channel. Our research shows that 79% of professionals consume work-related content at home and content must be digestible, dynamic and mobile-optimised.
“In today’s mobile-first world, measuring the effectiveness of this channel must be fully baked into how you calculate the ROI of your entire campaign. It can no longer be a bolt-on.”
With mobile programmatic on the increase, brands and media buyers do worry that their ads are at risk of fraud. This includes impression fraud, which affects display ads and apps, click fraud and install fraud. Such deception is costing advertisers money, affecting campaign results and raising security concerns for consumers.
When it comes to apps, brands are demanding the same level of accuracy, transparency and insight from mobile advertising that they enjoy with desktop campaigns.
This includes measuring viewability; there are tools available that tell marketers whether their ads in apps and games are in view and for how long.
Some brands are being asked to pay for ads that are pre-loaded into certain apps, such as games, and might not be viewed. Ads set to appear at certain times might not be seen either if a player does not get to a particular level.
Marketers are using geometric measurement to find out if their ads are appearing in a user friendly way and in a good position on the screen. They are also improving engagement levels for apps by using beacons to improve targeting. Mobile advertising becomes more contextually relevant if a brand knows a user’s location.
Brands are also keen to sponsor apps that they know will reach their core audiences. For example, Nurofen for Children, Comfort and Persil have sponsored mobile apps on Mumsnet.
“A high percentage of users access our site on their mobile phones, so ensuring the effectiveness of mobile advertising has been a key priority for us for a while,” says Mumsnet chief operating officer Sue Macmillan.
“We have tested a number of different mobile viewability formats, including placing ads in different positions on the page, to find something that works for both clients and our users. As a result, our mobile advertising gets results in terms of click-through rates and viewability.”
Brands will spend more on mobile advertising if they trust the measurement tools available to them. Marketers need to know that their ads are being seen, although it is also up to them to ensure their campaigns are engaging and not intrusive.
The Entertainer ramps up mobile ahead of Christmas
The UK’s largest independent toy retailer The Entertainer expects up to 70% of its sales to come via mobile this Christmas. The company launched a sponsored mobile site last year which has increased sales, but head of online Rob Wood says measuring ROI from mobile campaigns remains difficult.
“You can see the click-through numbers and who the buyers are but not everyone who views on mobile goes to the online checkout to purchase,” he says. The Entertainer has introduced a new CRM system to monitor email addresses so it can track whether someone is accessing its site on their phone, tablet or desktop.
“We produce a lot of video content but this is still watched more on desktop or a laptop because people worry about data usage on their phones,” says Wood.
The retailer uses the message cloud from agency SmartFocus to connect with customers in real-time on mobile, email or social. It sends relevant messages and combines data and online purchase history to generate more targeted mobile campaigns. Since doing so, email opening rates have doubled across mobile and desktop.
The Entertainer has increased the number of people shopping with it for at least a second time by 60% year-on-year. Previously only 14% of their online customers made a repeat purchase.
“We can now personalise our mobile sites to customer preferences. So someone who likes Star Wars will see related offers on the homepage.”