Two-thirds of marketers find it ‘hard’ to show ROI from mobile ad spend

Despite the rapid growth of mobile advertising, up to 65% of the UK’s most senior marketers find it “quite hard” to show a clear return on investment when it comes to their mobile ad spend.

Mobile marketing

In a study of 100 senior UK marketers, Opera Mediaworks and Censuswide also found that 40% of senior marketers, who possess more than 11 years experience, are “not comfortable” using mobile as an advertising channel.

And it isn’t just a generational barrier either, with over half (51%) of marketers, with less than five years experience, also “not comfortable” using mobile advertising.

Yet despite not being entirely comfortable, 41% of the younger marketers stated that it was “extremely easy” to show ROI on mobile ad spend.

Ilicco Elia, head of mobile at DigitasLBI, says the study shows there is a gap in thinking between younger and older marketers.

He explains: “It is telling that 65% of those who have ‘more than eleven years experience’ find it ‘quite hard’ to show ROI but 41% of those with less than five years experience found it ‘extremely easy’. If we equate experience with age, does this prove that being a digital native marketer impacts campaigns?

“As with all new technology, the biggest challenge is never the technology, it’s the lack of incentives and the vested interests standing in its way. It is no longer sufficient to simply use mobile to “drive customers to a product or service” mobile should be used continuously throughout the customer journey from initial awareness to using the product throughout its life.”

However, Julie Roberts, digital planning director at J. Walter Thompson London, says the study confirms what many marketers already know.

Opera Mediaworks: John Lewis is leading the way in proving ROI from mobile

“It is certainly more difficult to prove ROI on mobile advertising. Consumers spend more ‘internet time’ on their mobile phones, but there doesn’t seem to have been an equal increase in mobile commerce – from what we’ve seen across a variety of client campaigns conversion rates remain relatively low on mobile,” she says.

“At the moment actual purchasing is not the most significant use for a smartphone. But research to support purchase at a later date/time is a big contributor.”

Making the most of mobile

Marketers with over 11 years of experience only invest 11% of their campaign budget on mobile, according to the study. In comparison, marketers with six to 10 years experience invest 34%, while marketers with less than five years invest 29% of their ad spend.

And even though its study hints at a general confusion toward mobile advertising and its links to sales, Opera Mediaworks’ UK commercial director Chris Blight believes there is evidence of high-profile brands making money out of mobile.

“The proportion of traffic to from mobile devices increased to 60% in 2015, up from 42% in 2013,” he explains. “This has resulted in a 68% growth in mobile revenues and clearly demonstrates the consumer’s desire to purchase items anywhere, anytime, something advertisers need to be very aware of when planning their media.”

JWT’s Roberts, meanwhile, says that in order to prove ROI on mobile advertising and avoid confusion, brands and agencies must improve their understanding.

She concludes: One big opportunity is to encourage users to engage in the pre-shopping process on their smartphone – even if they don’t buy.

“Confusion comes from the fact that mobile advertising covers so many formats, which are all evolving at different rates. To gain confidence, marketers need to become more familiar with the formats, to test and learn, and as an industry we have a very important part to play in all of this – including improving ROI measurements.”