How To Sell Brands on Mobile Ads

This is the capstone of a four-part series looking at how publishers are organizing themselves to thrive in the post-desktop era. It is authored by Susan Chaika, senior product marketing manager at Vizu, A Nielsen Company, the leader in measuring digital brand advertising effectiveness.

Mobile usage is exploding, and it’s not hard to see why – over half of all Americans have a smartphone, and most of us keep our phones with us all day. And we do mean all day. According to the Nielsen Social Media Report, almost one-third of 18-24 year olds even bring their mobile devices into the bathroom.

This presents a huge opportunity for marketers to communicate on a nearly ubiquitous platform. But mobile ad spending, especially on brand campaigns, is growing much more slowly than most publishers would like. As with any new medium, marketers need proof that mobile advertising is working before they’ll invest more. Fortunately, publishers can apply some best practices from television and online to provide the evidence needed to increase mobile ad sales.

Here are three lessons learned in measuring and optimizing other types of media that we can apply to mobile.

Speak the same language: Mobile is a new screen, but advertising objectives haven’t changed. Nor have the way marketers want to measure performance against those objectives. Brand lift — the percentage increase in the primary marketing objective of the ad campaign —  is the same metric that is used in the offline world and has become the de facto performance metric for online brand advertising campaigns. Marketers use brand lift as way to measure the extent to which their campaigns have influenced consumer awareness, attitudes, favorability, purchase intent or preference. As brand marketers adapt to a new screen, they are already looking for brand lift metrics for mobile. If you’re speaking a different language – for example, talking about click-through rates for brand advertising – marketers are going to hesitate to invest their money with you.

Provide recommendations, not just observations: The online medium has a plethora of creative ad formats and tactics for marketers to choose from. Similarly, there is a great deal of experimentation going on in mobile right now. To build up an understanding of what works, publishers need to go beyond measuring brand lift for the overall campaign and also measure and optimize the effectiveness of the different elements that make up a mobile campaign – the creative units, the environments they appear in, the frequency with which the ad appears, and the audiences that the ads are shown to. Publishers can use this information to not only understand if the campaign is working but also what specifically is working, which allows them to make adjustments that ensure they can deliver great results for marketers.

Provide context:  Providing context for metrics is just as important as the metrics themselves. Marketers not only want to know how they’re doing, but also how they compare to the rest of the industry, to your site’s typical campaign results, and to previous campaigns they’ve run on your site. This is especially important for the growing mobile medium, where marketers are looking for information that will help them define their own best practices.

The fastest and most effective way for publishers to support them is by ensuring that benchmarks are part of their mobile offering. The most relevant performance benchmarks are those that are specific to the client’s brands and/or products. Providing client-specific benchmarks will give them the most relevant understanding of how their mobile campaign performed. Over time, this will enable publishers to help clients build up mobile advertising best practices.

By applying what we’ve learned in the television ad online arenas to the growing mobile medium, we can avoid a lot of the mistakes we’ve already made and finally usher in the year of mobile.