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Cross-media measurement is Holy Grail of mobile: IAB

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In order for brands and retailers to allocate more of their marketing budgets to mobile, measurement and reliable methodologies to understand audience behavior and ad effectiveness must be put into place, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

According to the “State of Mobile Measurement,” study released by IAB, fragmentation, unclear standards and technology problems have held mobile from reaching its full potential. In order to get up to par, marketers have to create common measurement standards in mobile.

“Mobile is not a platform, it is a behavior,” said Anna Bager, vice president and general manager at IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, New York.

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“In order to be truly successful, mobile has to be measured across a variety of platforms,” she said.

Mobile centric society
IAB’s Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence worked with Radar Research to conduct the study.

The results are based on interviews with mobile publishers, networks and vendors from May to July 2011.

According to Pew Internet & American Life Project, 83 percent of adults in the United States have a mobile device. More than one third of these consumers have a smartphone device. 

Tablet usage is up as well. 

Apple reported selling approximately 9 million iPads in just the first quarter of 2011, with Android tablets also selling off the racks. 

Mobile usage for more than just voice and text messaging has hit critical mass.   

However, IAB worries that measurement has lagged, particularly compared to other channels such as the PC‐based Web, email, search and even social media, according to the report. 

The fact that mobile is complex is one of the reasons for its hindrance. Technological challenges and an unclear regulatory environment are also challenges that hold mobile back. 

Regardless of the challenges in mobile measurement, publishers, developers and advertisers are still investing in the channel. 

Mobile’s growth
Mobile advertising spend is estimated to reach $1 billion in 2011, fueled by increased penetration of smartphones, faster data networks, more sophisticated local search and better geo‐location technologies, according to IAB.

If mobile measurement was more advanced, this number could be even higher, as more brands and retailers would jump aboard the mobile advertising bandwagon. 

IAB claims that mobile advertising will reach its full potential when transparency and improved methodologies for measurement become more common.

In particular, two types of measurement are necessary – audience measurement and standards for advertising effectiveness.

According to IAB, audience measurement provides insight into consumer behavior. 

What does this mean? It means being able to measure things like size and demographics of the total users on a mobile Web site or application. Additionally, metrics related to the audience’s level of engagement, such as registrations, transactions and downloads, are also a form of audience measurement.

On the other hand, ad effectiveness is just like effectiveness measurement in PC‐based. Metrics include awareness, affinity, brand consideration and purchase intent.

What makes mobile so difficult to measure is the fact that there are so many sub-channels in mobile. There’s the mobile Web, apps and SMS just to name a few.

PC‐based interactive advertising is browser‐based, making measurement standards much easier. 

According to comScore, more than 75 million mobile subscribers over the age of 13 used a downloaded app in August 2010. More than 80 million mobile subscribers used their browser during the same time period. 

This high usage makes it important that marketers can measure advertising on the mobile Web and in-app. 

Therefore, cross-media measurement is key to the future of mobile.

“This study recognizes where the problems are and where we need to move forward to find a solution,” Ms. Bager said.

Device is key
Besides the different sub-channels within the mobile ecosystem, there are also different devices, competing stakeholders and technologies. 

“While it may seem paradoxical given the complexity of mobile’s ecosystem, it is, at the same time, somewhat consolidated,” the IAB study says. “Apple, with the introduction of its iAd, recognized the challenges caused by fragmentation and sought to offer the advertising industry an integrated solution. 

“However, while a vertically integrated solution can help, Apple’s relatively closed system also limits the audience an advertiser can reach,” it says. “Similarly, Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility may help further propel its Android operating system, but the underlying complexity of the value chain remains unchanged.”

There are also some technological barriers that hinder mobile’s potential. 

According to IAB, cookies are unreliable, server logs are stymied and there are discrepancies between data sources. 

And, let’s not forget privacy. 

Apple and Google recently testified before a Senate subcommittee outlining their mobile privacy policies after it was discovered earlier this year that Apple’s iOS 4 was collecting and storing users’ location information insecurely. 

With four online privacy bills currently proposed, there is a good chance that the government will more strongly regulate what data is collected, who it is shared with and how the data is safeguarded.

Taking all of this into account, the IAB is calling on the entire mobile industry to work together to create common standards for research on mobile audience and ad effectiveness. 

“The ubiquity of mobile devices is rapidly increasing, accelerating marketer interest,” the IAB’s report says. “Yet for advertising to truly take hold on mobile platforms, more consistent and reliable measurement standards need to be adopted. Even as other digital channels, such as the PC‐based Web, email and social media have developed more sophisticated measurement, mobile media lags behind. 

“One of the greatest challenges to better measurement lies within the infrastructure itself,” it says. “A complex ecosystem, technological confusion and an ambiguous regulatory environment have all contributed to a slowly evolving and contentious mobile measurement landscape. Despite the lack of industry‐accepted measurement standards, marketing investment continues to grow. 

“While this report highlights some of the measurement obstacles facing mobile media, it is also meant to provide a roadmap as the industry, and the IAB, assesses its priorities for measurement‐related initiatives. Through an examination of the factors hindering better measurement, the IAB hopes to – excuse the pun – mobilize the industry for further dialog.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York

 

Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer. Reach her at lauren@mobilemarketer.com.

 
Related content: Research, IAB, Radar Research, mobile marketing, mobile, mobile advertising, research

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