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CPG brands piggyback on third-party apps for mobile boost

While consumer-packaged-goods brands are moving slowing when it comes to leveraging mobile to directly connect with customers, many view third-party applications as an easy way to establish a mobile footprint quickly.

The use of third-party apps such as Viggle, Shazam, Blippar and shopkick by CPG brands is growing as more marketers understand how digital plays a role in activating traditional media. The strategy points to the struggle CPG brands face connecting directly via mobile with consumers who are used to engaging with retail brands.

?CPG brands are finding opportunity in mobile advertising as well as through partnerships with third-party apps that have already amassed large audiences,? Stasha Rosen, research lead at L2 Think Tank, New York.

?Shoppers lean more heavily on retailer properties than branded ones,? she said.

Slow movers
A recent study from L2 found that of 75 personal care brands in the United States such as Pampers, Gillette, Neutrogena and Old Spice, only 20 percent had a mobile app.

Per L2, the majority of the branded apps are more used for one-off campaigns versus loyalty-based campaigns.

However, 40 percent of the brands partner with third-party apps.

These findings point to how CPG brands that have traditionally spent heavily in traditional media may be beginning to funnel some of their budget towards mobile.

These types of app campaigns are also seeing some significant results in increasing metrics such as brand favorability.

For example, Clorox recently completed a television check-in campaign with Viggle to complement ABC?s ?The Bachelorette? that generated a 54 percent engagement rate (see story).

?The challenge is sifting through the abundance of mobile apps and platforms to find the few that can really move the needle and drive success,? said Kevin Arrix, chief revenue officer at Viggle, New York.

?In terms of opportunities, mobile devices and third-party apps really allow brands to continue the conversation started on air or in print in a meaningful way with their target audience, up to and including driving a specific, desired action,? he said.

According to Mr. Arrix, CPG brands leverage Viggle for three purposes.

The first is to let brands buy a specific demographic on TV since each check-in is tied to data on a user, which lets marketers target users by demographic, geography, device type or DMA.

The second way is around using Viggle to expand existing investments and events as part of a multichannel marketing approach. The last way is around targeting consumers with a desired action that can be tracked.

In-store opportunity
Compared to a branded mobile app that consumers may only use a few times, a third-party app works with multiple brands, which consumers may be more inclined to download.

Third-party apps also have a growing role to build brand favorability and sales when consumers are in supermarkets and are looking for the best deal or product quickly if a deal is targeted and personalized to a shopper.

?More than half the U.S. is using a smartphone and they are using it more often than any other medium, and they spend more time in mobile apps than on the Web, and that includes the desktop and mobile Web,? said Shira Gasarch, head of account management, brand partnerships for shopkick, Palo Alto, CA.

?It's the best connection a brand marketer has to their target consumer as they move through the purchase funnel and when they ultimately stand in store in front of the shelf,? she said.

?We'll see more brands moving towards native integrations and in-app executions instead of running small format mobile banners that have a questionable impact on key performance indicators.?

Testing new technology
Third-party apps are also being used by a number of CPG brands such as Anheuser-Busch and General Mills as a way to incorporate new technologies such as augmented reality into bigger marketing campaigns.

Anheuser-Busch for example uses the Blippar app to test different initiatives for all of its brands (see story).

Additionally, General Mills? Wheaties used augmented reality a couple of times recently to bring its famous cereal boxes to life (see story).

The challenge in creating these types of campaigns is figuring what types of content to target a bigger demographic.

?There is a challenge for CPG brands to decide what kind of content their audience wants to access via mobile, and what is most suited to this specific medium,? said Lisa Hu, vice president of business development of North America at Blippar, New York.

?Since consumers are more likely to engage with content either during their down time or while on the go, content should be tailored accordingly,? she said. ?An interactive, engaging experience or a campaign with true additive value for the consumer will both drive solid results.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York