Mobile Advertising: Its Time to Switch the Light On

Arno Aug 15Arno Hummerston, managing director and global product director of communications & digital at GfK, argues that analytics and measurement need to improve to match the power that mobile now wields

No other kind of advertising is enjoying the rise that mobile advertising is right now. At the same time, there is no other area of advertising that so little about the actual effect of campaigns is known as mobile advertising. Advertisers have been in the dark about which messages actually reach which individuals’ screens, and they will remain so unless they use an innovative solution that is able to precisely analyze the impact of mobile advertising in the highly dynamic advertising market.

Three or more years ago, a Brazilian car insurer posted an attention-grabbing ad on potential customers’ smartphones and tablets. The ad showed an image of a car, but as soon as the user tried to swipe the screen to remove it, the car crashed at full speed against the edge of the screen. The campaign‘s tagline was “Unexpected events happen without warning. Make a Bradesco car insurance plan.”

The campaign may have attracted a lot of attention and won a Gold Lion award at Cannes, but one thing remains unclear: which people and how many screens did it actually reach? What brand impact did the creative ad make on its target audience? In other words, did the insurance company benefit from the effectiveness of the ad itself, or was it just from winning a Gold Lion?

These questions sound trite but are a sign of a fundamental problem in the mobile sector: Until now, we have relied on delivery figures, media KPIs. There has not been any effective overall strategy for examining the impact of mobile advertising. Anyone involved in mobile advertising has simply had to hope that their messages actually reach – and influence – their intended recipients.

Uncertainty in the world’s fastest growing advertising market
Uncertainty in the mobile advertising market stems from the speed at which mobile channels and advertising via this medium have come to prominence. Mobile devices are now the most lucrative digital advertising medium in the world. $100bn (£76bn) is expected to be spent on mobile channels in 2016 – which is 51 per cent of the total digital advertising budget. By 2019, mobile ad spending is anticipated to double to $196bn, meaning it will account for more than two thirds of the expenditure on digital advertising.

“We are now witnessing the fastest transition of ad budgets in history as marketers and agencies scramble to catch up with consumers’ embrace of the mobile way of life,” said Steve King, CEO of the global media agency ZenithOptimedia, in the company-owned blog. “Mobile technology is rapidly transforming the way consumers across the world live their lives, and is disrupting business models across all industries.”

ZenithOptimedia forecasts that mobile ads will account for 12.4 per cent of global ad spending in 2016, overtaking print advertising (11.9 per cent) for the first time. This means mobile media is now the third most important advertising medium after TV and PC – a fact that is not so surprising when you think that there are more than 2bn smartphone users in the world. In addition, many consumers in China and the developing countries of Asia in particular only ever go online using their smartphones.

One user becomes three in analyses
While the number of mobile users is increasing at a rapid rate, analysis of their usage behavior is noticeably lagging behind. One of the main problems is that apps do not allow cookies, without which reliable user identification from various devices is impossible to date.

The result of this shortcoming is a frustrating lack of precision when evaluating reach and the impact of exposure. For example, if an ad first reaches a user on an app and then via a web browser on his smartphone, the user is mistakenly identified as two recipients. Every additional channel used, for example a desktop or tablet, adds another phantom user.

Traditional recall questions in surveys on mobile media devices are also of limited significance. Many users don‘t remember having seen mobile ads when questioned because they are so discreetly posted. Some respondents also claim that they have seen ads even though they had definitely not appeared on their screens.

Lighting the way to effective mobile advertising
The challenge for marketers is to demonstrate the impact of their advertising on brand awareness, image, reputation, emotional connection and resonance. With brands now immersed in the digital world, this level of information is needed more than ever. Measuring behavioral KPIs is not enough – robust branding metrics are essential.

Only a precise examination of results, impact and optimization opportunities can drive campaign success, for mobile and for broader digital campaign components. We have approaches that provide brand KPIs, in-flight optimization and even links to ROI.

Our GfK Experience Effects provides marketers with insight into the impact of their mobile advertising campaigns across all devices, while GfK Real Time Effects (also known as Dimestore in the US) delivers optimization insight whilst the campaign is live.. Only then can we ensure that campaigns like Bradesco‘s have an impact and are well received by the intended target audience – and not just the creative world.

This sponsored article was written by Arno Hummerston, managing director and global product director of communications & digital at GfK, and is editorially independent from Mobile Marketing Magazine