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Mobile ads three-to-five times more effective than online: analyst

NEW YORK ? Mobile advertising is three-to-five times more effective than online advertising, according to an ad:tech panelist.

Bruce Braun, CEO of Agent-M, moderated the ?Measuring Mobile?Exploring the Metrics? panel. He asked the panelists questions such as ?What are the tools and metrics used to justify brands expanding into mobile??, ?Can we apply the same tactics to our mobile campaigns that we?re using in our other digital marketing efforts?? and ?How do you measure the unique value of mobile to engage your target in new ways and places??

?Everyone has a different mechanism for measuring the success of a campaign, but we have normative databases tracking what brands can expect from advertising campaigns on mobile,? said Ali Rana, vice president of digital strategy at Dynamic Logic, New York. ?There is still a ways to go but we?re made making progress.

?Because of some of the challenges on mobile, it has allowed advertisers to keep messages fairly simple, with a single frame, and that tends to resonate well with the audience,? he said. ?In fact, mobile advertising is 3X-to-5X more effective compared to online advertising.

?Mobile screen size is a challenge but also a huge benefit to advertisers, because there?s not a lot of clutter, and most successful campaigns we?ve measured the messaging is simple, the brand is integrated and for now a simple ad is all consumers need.?

The conversation ranged from the standardization of reporting and measurement of mobile campaigns to the ownership and sharing of data.

Panels discussed theh need for impartial third-party verification for accurate measurement, post-buy campaign audience profiles, post-buy ad-effectiveness data and advanced segmentation by attaching carrier subscriber data.

Some panelists seemed cautiously optimistic that over time carriers will share more consumer data with marketers.

Some stressed the need to acknowledge mobile?s uniqueness while at the same time looking at the channel as it related to a brand?s overall marketing strategy.

?When looking at mobile measurement, do you want to catch it up from other mediums or start from ground zero and aim for a better solution overall?? said Paul Kultgen, director of client services and mobile media practices in the online division of Nielsen, New York. ?People are measuring mobile on this island and I?m not sure it?s fair to the medium.

?Focus on integration?how do you not look at mobile alone but as part of a broader set of communications objectives and media channels?? he said.

Will aligning mobile analytics with online and traditional media analytics generate larger spends for mobile? Do better analytics equal larger spends, and do larger spends generate better analytics?

It is a chicken-or-the-egg argument. Brands are afraid to ramp up their mobile spend because the metrics are not there yet, but the metrics cannot become more sophisticated unless brands make the necessary investment in the channel.

?For small and medium businesses, SMBs, simplicity and standardization are paramount,? said Steven Marshall, manager of research initiatives at the Kelsey Group, Princeton, NJ. ?Mobile cannot have a unique set of metrics, and these various issues around infrastructure and metric development and accuracy have to be tapped into place a little more before you approach most small businesses, because they don?t have the bandwidth to handle it.

?The message has to be very simple, very easy to grasp,? he said. ?There is a very high level of interest among small and medium businesses in social media, particularly the intersection of mobile and social media.

?When there?s more knowledge and data on this usage and monetization thereof, we?ll get small businesses thinking, do I want to invest in Twitter-linked and mobile marketing efforts or do I want to buy a banner on Yahoo??

Closing the loop to track mobile-coupon redemption at the point of sale could be the ultimate metric for many brands.

?An ad format that will increasingly be distributed via mobile is coupons,? Mr. Marshall said. ?There is very strong interest among consumers in getting coupons on their mobile devices, and there is very strong interest from small businesses for mobile coupons, which may shape this debate.?

One factor making measuring mobile campaigns more difficult is the fact that so many feature phones without an operating system remain in the market. Mobile advertising will exist in a different universe when everyone has a smartphone, leading to more usage and different use cases.

?Mobile is still evolving so dramatically, measuring is kind of a challenge?we should definitely not dumb-down the metrics, but not make them so esoteric no one?s going to buy,? said Ryan Neufeld, senior analyst of mobile at comScore Inc., Reston, VA. ?There has to be some commonality for measurement to compare different channels.

?I would ask brands, ?What are you trying to do, who are you trying to reach, what are you trying to tell them?? he said. ?Good creative on a text message is not the same as good creative on a TV ad, and mobile advertising is probably hideously complicated, but rather than just take an ad and throw it on mobile, think who are you trying to reach and what devices are they using? What is your objective?

?Why do you want an app? The answer not always there. If I can get a better retention rate with an app than a piece of direct mail, then that?s great, because a lot of money is being spent on direct mail.?

As other traditional media and the PC Internet become more and  more cluttered, mobile is a way for brands to cut through the noise.

?What is unique about mobile? The Internet used to be a lean-forward medium, but now it?s more cluttered,? Mr. Neufeld said. ?TV is definitely lean-back now, but mobile is lean-forward, so more immersive metrics are of more value, rather than say ?I kind of think I reached a certain demographic.?

?Mobile is definitely going to impact what younger demographics do on the PC?they?re not emailing, they?re texting or tweeting,? he said.

?Usage is going down here but going up there, which is good for mobile, but maybe bad for content publisher because it forces you to connect the dots a little more, as the print industry is demonstrating right now.?

MMA has its say
The industry currently measures the success of mobile advertising with many types of metrics.

The Mobile Marketing Association, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Media Research Center are working on Global Mobile Measurement Guidelines to establish a common framework for mobile ad measurement for release in 2010.

?The MMA is trying to make strides to make sure we put together best practices, guidelines and standards to help brands and agencies invest in the mobile space,? said Kristine van Dillen, director of industry initiatives and partnerships at the Mobile Marketing Association, New York. ?The metrics that I hear about a ton are impressions, click-through rates, page-views and how long a person is engaging with an iPhone app or rich-media advertisement.

?The ones we are trying to create global measurement guidelines for include ?How do you accurately capture impressions and click-through rates of banner ads on the mobile Web? How can brands and agencies trust the accuracy of those metrics??

While many firms are measuring mobile advertising in different ways, brands are ultimately looking for the ability of mobile ads to drive conversions and revenue.

?The next steps are measuring brand engagement, closing the loop on impressions and driving purchases of physical and virtual goods,? Ms. Van Dillen said. ?We?re also looking at messaging, which is a little bit different.

?Brands and agencies have concerns?with so many ways to measure effectiveness, how do you compare rich media to messaging to TV and out of home?? she said. ?They?re looking for apples-to-apples comparisons for mobile.

?Mobile has the opportunity to have the most meaningful measurements of any channel, and we need accurate numbers so you can compare it to other marketing channels as well.?