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Mobile ad engagement doubles as targeting improves: report

More consumers than ever find mobile ads helpful, with relevancy a key factor in driving engagement, according to a new report from xAd and Telmetrics. 

The xAd/Telmetrics 2014 Mobile Path-to-Purchase study shows that mobile shoppers are increasingly receptive to relevant ads, with nearly 50 percent saying mobile ads are informative and helpful, up 113 percent from 22 percent last year. Additionally, 40 percent reported clicking on ads, with nearly half of these taking secondary actions such as viewing a referring Web site and searching for additional product information. 

"To me, the spike in ad engagement is the most surprising,? said Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics. ?While we expected an increase - seeing it double in one year is really a testament to the vast improvements among ad agencies and networks to ensure more distinct personalization and targeting of their mobile ad programs.

?As mobile ad targeting has improved to be more inline with the consumer's wants and needs, consumers are more receptive to mobile ad content and therefore more open to mobile ads in general,? he said. 

?The fact that more consumers prefer free mobile content supported by ads than paying for ad-free content also speaks to the dual reality that mobile ads have improved and consumers are more comfortable with the ads they are delivered."

Location drives relevancy
The report is based on an online survey and on-device behavioral data from 6,000 smartphone and tablet users in the United States. It is focused on the automotive, entertainment, restaurant and telecom categories. 

The report found that relevancy is a major factor influencing ad engagement, with more than 40 percent of mobile users saying they clicked on a mobile ad because it was relevant to their interests or purchase research. 

Location is an important way that ads provide relevancy, with more than half of respondents saying that location is an important ad relevancy factor, up 44 percent over the last two years. 

Additionally, the majority of respondents said they prefer a free Web site with ads over paying for an ad-free subscription, a sentiment that has increased 31 percent since 2012.   

Purchase intent
Another key takeaway is that when consumers engage in secondary actions following an initial click, this can be a strong indicator of purchase intent. The findings include that half of consumers who take action post-click want to purchase within the hour and 70 percent go on to make a purchase. 

Post-click actions are also closely related to expectations around proximity, with 67 percent of these mobile shoppers wanting a business within five miles and 18 percent wanting locations within one mile. 

The ability to contact a business is also tied to mobile engagement, with 57 percent of those who clicked on mobile ads and 61 percent of those who took secondary actions preferring ads that provide a direct phone number for the business.  

?As consumers become more reliant on their mobile devices and ads mature, there has been a positive and important shift from seeing mobile ads as intrusive to now many mobile shoppers value the content they provide,? Mr. Dinan said. 

?Relevancy is crucial to continuing to drive positive mobile ad perception and any thing advertisers can do to improve the relevancy of their ad programs with deals and location context - even local phone numbers - is important for increasing ad traction with mobile shoppers,? he said. 

Final Take?
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York