Why your mobile advertising strategy doesn’t work

texting blackberry mobileAdvertisers need to evaluate how mobile contributes towards their overall business goals if they are to create a coherent strategy that seamlessly engages customers across multiple channels.

Real-time advertising has revolutionised digital display, but advertisers who want to take advantage of the real-time mobile opportunity face challenges. When executed with purpose and meaning, real-time mobile advertising provides a powerful tool to reach customers and engage them in an exciting additional marketing channel. However, the nature of mobile advertising and its differences to other channels forces advertisers to ask fundamental questions such as, whether mobile fits with their product offering and what a mobile channel and mobile marketing can achieve.

For us mobile strategy means smartphone strategy. By contrast, tablets are a natural extension of standard display advertising; it’s the same formats on the same websites shown on similar sized screens, traded in real time. Smartphones demand markedly different treatment, and whilst there is plenty of display inventory available to be traded in real time, screen sizes, ad sizes, formats, placements, location targeting, user behaviour and smartphone specific goals (like app downloads) make this space distinct from standard display.

This disparity has created uncertainty amongst advertisers as to how mobile advertising should be used, and to what end. Alignment of macro-marketing goals like branding, acquisition and customer loyalty can be achieved on mobile but require different micro-goals and implementations to traditional online activity.

Mobile app developers were the pioneers of the space, running the first customer acquisition campaigns through mobile display; fuelling paid app downloads with display placements in apps and on web. With a clear link between downloads and revenue, their strategy and results are clear, even without robust user tracking. However, for retailers or for paid service offerings, customer acquisition advertising via mobile is more challenging. Research has shown that users are not afraid to make purchases on their smartphones but their small screen device is more commonly utilised as a touch-point on the path to a purchase that takes place on a larger screen.

A mobile presence for retail marketers is usually focussed on mobile-web and mobile-app stores. These allow users to browse and research but not necessarily to buy. For paid service markers, mobile presence is generally takes the form of a subscription service or utility application available across multiple platforms. App download is an appropriate campaign target in both cases but, as revenue generation is not the primary goal, an ROI cannot be reliably established (especially if users browse on mobile and complete their purchase offline). Advertisers should be wary of building costly apps if they cannot be linked with business objectives, and even if they are aligned it’s unrealistic to expect consumers to shift immediately to this new channel.

The major barrier holding back mobile, direct-response marketing is that the original acquisition campaign template that drove the growth of RTB is challenging to replicate with mobile. These data-driven campaigns are restricted by the ineffectiveness of cookies in mobile advertising and inconsistent device identifiers.

The good news is that the next generation of mobile tracking is already beginning to take shape through real-time advertising. The available tools fall into three categories, cookies (in mobile browsers), deterministic device IDs, and statistical device IDs (or ‘device finger printing’). Only by utilising all these identifiers in combination can marketers build a true picture of their mobile penetration and accurately discover how customers react to marketing activity.

Mobile devices empower users to consume content wherever and whenever they desire, and with the inventory now available advertisers are able to follow that path. Users are shifting the way they access media, and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are seeing more traffic on mobile than traditional large-screen devices. The increase in social networking, movies and TV on the go has amplified the ability of advertisers to reach users, and high impact mobile ad units like video and rich media are becoming increasingly open to be purchased programmatically.

Combine this with first party data, such as login information, and advertisers are able to target existing customers across devices in real time, tailoring their marketing messages to unlock new revenue opportunities. So while acquisition campaigns are in their early stages, other marketing goals with alternative methods of tracking, such as branding and customer loyalty, are being made to work today.

Mobile, often cited as the fastest adopted technology ever, is unavoidably disruptive. Real-time mobile advertising provides the opportunity for a very personal connection with consumers and the tools are fast developing to deliver campaigns with robust KPIs. However any small screen advertising must incorporate mobile’s unique ad formats and user behaviour. Meaning advertisers must clearly define how mobile fits with their business and how investment in websites, apps and mobile marketing meets their wider objectives.

Ed Halliwell is Product Manager at Infectious Media, one of the first real-time practitioners globally and a pioneer in Europe. It delivers customised real-time advertising campaigns for leading advertisers worldwide from offices in London, Paris and Hamburg. Campaigns powered by BIG data, integrated and processed using its data management platform to generate revenues from new and existing customers.