‘Ad’ enough? What to consider when advertising to mobile shoppers

'Ad' Enough? What to consider when advertising to mobile shoppersThe latest data from the IAB report (co-produced with PWC) says that advertising on mobile devices in 2011 reached a new high of £203.2M, a 157% increase on the previous year. When compared to estimates from The Advertising Association/Warc Expenditure Report, this expenditure is now greater than overall cinema spend (£182M). So what is the best way to engage with consumers via their mobile?

Latest research on mobile marketing (Ipsos/Yahoo “Mobile Modes – How to Connect with Mobile Consumers” study) shows that there are a lot of similarities with more traditional media advertising; consumers are more likely to engage with ads that are humorous, bold and graphic, and as with most adverts, those that are relevant and specific will have more of an impact. So whilst the marketing rules are not re-written for mobile, they should be appropriated in a way that treats the platform (and consumers’ relationship with it) as inherently different to other traditional media.

Within the mobiles market, it is smartphones in particular that are directly influencing and facilitating purchasing considerations and it is therefore in that field that the opportunity lies for marketers. To contextualise this, almost half of the population now own a smartphone, and they spend on average, almost an hour a day on the mobile internet. It is also apparent that most smartphone owners/ users regardless of age, gender etc. are particularly dependent on them for organising their lives and communicating with other people, hence explaining their personal, intimate and pervasive nature.

Furthermore, a large chunk of time on a smartphone is spent shopping, with browsing retail/ online shopping sites as the most popular activity, alongside browsing/ researching for coupons and deals. Many consumers are now starting to notice mobile advertising, most of whom are accepting of them. Ad recall is highest in the morning, and ad interaction is significantly higher when already shopping through the mobile.

With regard to purchasing considerations, mobile phones provide several functionalities, ranging from reactive messaging, to the more proactive web searches related to products or services (e.g. price comparisons), and to the engaging dimension of social networking, Quick Response (QR) codes and location based services (LBS). Smartphones are therefore increasingly facilitating and complementing a direct dialogue with brands and empowering consumers to make more informative decisions on what they are going to buy and how, simultaneously making the customer journey and shopping experience more fun and enjoyable.

Consumers are therefore increasingly expecting user-friendly and highly personalised apps that will enable them to manipulate mobile functionalities to fulfil their needs and marketers provide just that. The most successful facets of a marketing campaign, i.e. being targeted and tailored, are therefore even more important (and to a certain extent easier) to achieve on smartphones, particularly due to their mobile and interactive nature. This is what gives smartphones competitive advantage over other marketing platforms. Capitalising on these characteristics, marketers can geographically target and enable consumers to respond in real time, further adding value to their mobile campaigns and also integrating them with other elements, such as print ads or outdoor posters.

Consumers who are actively looking to get information on a product (and to get it fast and on the move), and brands that are providing this in an interesting way via mobile, are one step closer to translating ad recall to ad engagement and ad engagement to sales. We have found that a large proportion of people who do shop via mobile have said that they found [what they bought] by browsing or through online recommendations, which suggests that these activities have direct outcomes.

However, it is worth adding that not all smartphone usage is conducted when on the move. In fact 1/3 of usage takes place inside the home or office, where consumers have access to alternative means of searching for information and aiding their purchasing considerations. Though this doesn’t necessarily pose a direct threat to the sophisticated mobile technologies, it is worth noting that consumers’ frame of mind and attention spans are likely to be different than if they were solely concentrating on their smartphones. This also relates to the purpose and nature of the use e.g. complemented by other activities; killing time whilst waiting; or looking for something specific? And if it’s the latter, then adverts not directly related to what they’re looking for may not only frustrate but alienate consumers further. Which brings us back to the point of targeted and tailored advertising, and making sure it maintains the personal and customised appeal that runs throughout the device.

More information on the Ipsos/Yahoo report is available on request.

Gavin Sugden is a research director for Ipsos MediaCT