What do mobile marketers really need? Better metrics, for starters

Marketers and agencies are getting past the “experimentation phase” of mobile advertising. According to Nielsen’s newly released Mobile Roadmap report, 80 percent of advertisers and 90 percent of agencies surveyed said they had bought some form of mobile advertising in the past 12 months.

But in order for mobile to become a regular, formal campaign budget line item, it needs to deliver metrics closer to what marketers use to measure offline campaigns, as well as mobile-specific measurements. Thirty-nine percent of advertisers said they “would prefer to use the exact same metrics as offline, and additional metrics specific to the mobile medium.”

However, less than one-quarter (22 percent) of publishers can deliver these measurements.

The Mobile Roadmap also examined other types of ad metrics for mobile campaigns, asking advertisers if they would prefer to use the exact same measurements they use in offline programs or mobile-specific metrics. By and large, advertisers seek a mix of the two. And, they want to ensure those aspects only mobile can provide are included.

The advertisers surveyed indicated two specific areas where the measurement gap between mobile and the rest of the marketing mix needs to be lessened: reach and ROI.

In the offline world, reach is traditionally measured in GRPs (Gross Rating Points) to show the size of an audience reached by an ad or program. Mobile media sellers typically utilize campaign impressions as a reach metric. Impressions measure what was delivered, and not necessarily whom it was delivered to.

To determine ROI, marketers seek brand lift metrics from their mobile campaigns. Brand lift measures the percentage increase in the primary marketing objective for the campaign, such as a lift in awareness, attitudes, favorability, purchase intent or preference.

Mobile publishers, however, tend to rely on click-through rates as an ROI measurement. Click-through rates offer a mobile-only measurement of what was delivered. But, marketers and agencies are seeking more of an offline-equivalent for campaign effectiveness.

One potential barrier to mobile advertising growth: the gap between the ad metrics sought by marketers and those actually provided by mobile publishers. Why? Because it fosters doubt among agencies and advertisers about mobile’s audience claims. The majority of advertisers (55 percent) and agencies (54 percent) surveyed are uncertain or outright disbelieve audience-reach claims.

Concerns about metrics need to be addressed in order for mobile campaign budgets to grow.

Additional information about the challenges advertisers are experiencing in mobile advertising can be found in Nielsen’s Mobile Roadmap, available for download free of charge. The study compiles information based on interviews with advertisers, agencies and media providers. It was commissioned by Nielsen U.S. digital marketing and media professionals and conducted by Digiday in October 2013 on attitudes and approaches to mobile advertising. The Mobile Roadmap contains additional information, including a full explanation of survey methodology.

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