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Mobile Advertising is Failing to Reach Its True Potential

Mobile Advertising is Failing to Reach Its True Potential
Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins, CEO of 4INFO, boasts more than 25 years of Silicon Valley tech experience in executive and operational roles at companies such as Apple and Stratacom (acquired by Cisco). He currently drives the expansion strategy for 4INFO in the rapidly growing global mobile market.

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New big data technologies and approaches are enabling mobile targeting and measurement at levels never seen before, yet the industry continues to hesitate

“Mobile is everything for us in 2013.” That’s what the Chief Marketing Officer at a large big box retailer said to me at a recent meeting. This sentiment is consistent across the industry as brands recognize the importance of the mobile channel in reaching consumers. And while they may be looking to emphasize mobile, most brands are completely missing mobile’s potential: to deliver highly relevant (not spam) content and real, measureable results.

Relevance and results – seems pretty straight-forward. With all the data and information available, shouldn’t companies be able to help these brands understand the customer, deliver precise/relevant content, and then know whether an ad drove behavior or even actual sales?

Ever since the Wireless Marketing Association convened the first mobile advertising conference in London in 2000, advertisers have sought to capture the full potential of mobile. Within 10 years, the budding market reached $1.45 billion, and mobile advertising became a crucial element to virtually every digital marketing campaign. And, with over 50 percent of people in the U.S. owning and using smartphones, along with a 48 percent rise in wireless connected tablet use in the first quarter of 2013 (according to NPD Group), it’s obvious that effective mobile advertising offers a wealth of opportunity for brands to reach their target audience directly.

Yet, in spite of quick growth and significant promise, advertisers continue to encounter hurdles that limit their confidence in the value of mobile advertising. Three main reasons why modern mobile advertising isn’t yet meeting its full potential follow:

1. Lack of targeting accuracy. Most mobile advertisers use techniques such as:

  • Location analytics. Using area demographics for the location of a device at a specific time of day to infer whom you are likely reaching;
  • Device info. Using mobile device type, operating system, manufacturer and carrier to define the audience;
  • Contextual. Accessing information via sites visited and downloaded apps.

Location analytics and contextual clues only provide probable identification of an individual within the target audience, lacking precision and resulting in wasted impressions. Focusing on the attributes that are unique to mobile, such as location, misses two key points:

  • What matters most is hitting the right person with your advertising. Not where they are or what they are doing—a Coke buyer is a Coke buyer regardless of where they are or what they are doing.
  • When advertisers target mobile ads differently than other advertising mediums, mobile advertising will remain experimental and never an essential part of an advertiser’s integrated ad spend.

2. Effective use of third-party data. Utilizing third-party data from proven sources such as Acxiom, Nielson-Catalina Solutions, Datalogix and Polk to specifically deliver relevant ads to interested customers is something traditional advertising channels have done for years.

This strategy is incredibly valuable for channels like direct mail, but only a few smart mobile advertisers are currently utilizing this tried and true method. Despite the ability to use this information to target mobile campaigns at the household level, where purchase decision-making typically happens, it isn’t yet a widespread practice with mobile advertisers. The ability to precisely target mobile devices based on past purchase data delivers the kind of relevancy that drives purchase behavior, and therefore, advertising ROI.

3. Lack of measurement. It’s difficult to accurately measure and tie popular mobile ad targeting options directly to the key metrics used with other media. Even today, advertisers remain stymied when it comes to measuring mobile advertising campaign results. The lack of common and accurate targeting and measurement options prohibits truly integrated campaigns, forcing advertisers to silo mobile advertising.

To measure success, you have to know whom you are reaching with your ad. Currently, very few mobile ad-targeting solutions offer the ability to track and analyze purchase data that is directly attributed to mobile campaigns when those purchases happen offline or via another device.

Let’s face it, few sales consummate from a mobile device – making it imperative that mobile advertisers measure actual sales lift at the cash register to show true value and measure what matters. Unfortunately, few solutions provide this kind of closed-loop analysis, leaving advertisers with little to measure but click rates, which offer little to no tangible value. And, only through effective measurement of campaign results will major advertisers have the confidence to embrace mobile with the same confidence and success rates as other media.

There’s no denying mobile advertising is the hot topic in reaching today’s consumer. For real success, advertisers should carefully consider the benefits mobile advertising providers offer, because reaching full potential means partnering with the right experts to deliver a wide range of precisely targeted ad units across all mobile channels to drive business success and deliver measurable results.

Tim Jenkins, CEO of 4INFO, boasts more than 25 years of Silicon Valley tech experience in executive and operational roles at companies such as Apple and Stratacom (acquired by Cisco). He currently drives the expansion strategy for 4INFO in the rapidly growing global mobile market.

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