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Brands: Go Forth and Invest More in Mobile

Small screens continue to draw great attention and big money from advertisers. As we’ve covered previously, consumers’ rapid and all-encompassing embrace of smartphones and other untethered devices is fueling explosive growth in mobile advertising investments. This year, according to Zenith, mobile will account for 59% of the $200+ billion digital ad spend. At the same time, Zenith projects that 80% of Internet consumption in 2018 will happen via mobile devices, indicating that eyeballs are still moving faster than dollars to the mobile sphere.

This means mobile still poses a mega opportunity to advertisers, especially those that are willing to explore new directions. Ever-evolving consumer habits, more sophisticated technologies, better measurement and a broader embrace of industry standards offer new opportunities for maximizing mobile’s marketing power. Here are some developments heralding more mobile growth.

Branching Out From In-App
There’s more to mobile marketing than in-app buys. Sure, Facebook, Google, Snapchat and other in-app platforms continue to dominate mobile ad investments and there are good reasons for that. Consumers spend far more time in apps on their smartphones than browsing the mobile web (eMarketer says it’s about 85% vs 15%). But, as ClickZ notes, that time is concentrated within a very few top apps. Many large publishers with desirable audiences and high-use websites don’t have apps. In other words, ClickZ says, the mobile web has great potential for helping brand advertisers reach more diverse audiences over a wider range of properties.

And going that route may be increasingly necessary at this juncture. An Adobe report shows a 38% decrease in new app downloads, and this fatigue has the potential to make mobile inventory more attractive to brands searching for ways to increase app downloads by app fatigued consumers. Bloomberg, for example, ran a successful campaign utilizing the mobile web to generate downloads of its app.

Measurement Is Getting Real
Advertisers can also take note of steps the industry is taking to improve standardization and measurement of the mobile web. Last year we wrote about the IAB’s efforts toward standardization and measurement in the digital sector. More recent is the advent of third-party measurement that will help ensure brand safety through a push for adoption of a single codebase that will enable measurement by all companies that choose to support it.

This open measurement software development kit, or SDK, a standard integration package on the app side, is starting to earn support from the measurement companies DoubleVerify, IAS and Moat, as well as those on the traditional advertising side, such as Comscore and Nielsen. It’s a nascent movement but bodes well in getting mobile advertising to the same level of standardized data sharing and measurement as desktop.

Engagement Is High—As Are Sales
On a broader level, growth in mobile—both in-app and mobile web—is sure to continue its explosive growth simply because evidence continues to emerge of its engagement and sales efficacy—especially when it comes to mobile video. New research from marketing science professor Karen Nelson-Field, shows mobile video drives higher levels of attention and sales than video on desktops or TV. The study, which utilized artificial intelligence and eye-tracking software to assess the sales impact of video advertisements viewed on mobile devices by consumers of broadcast video-on-demand, Facebook and YouTube, found that mobile video drives higher levels of attention and sales because of the total screen coverage and “lean-in” factor characteristic of mobile.

Kim Portrate, Chief Executive of ThinkTV, sees the growing trend of streaming TV services as good news for advertisers. “Not only is TV on mobile and tablets the ultimate attention grabber, and sales impactor, it is adding fresh opportunities for advertisers to target specific audiences and is the perfect complement to the unrivalled reach velocity of TV watched on the TV set in the home.”

And targeting, particularly that which utilizes location services, is turning out to be a huge benefit to mobile advertising, judging by a recent mobile campaign by Walmart that used video ads to increase in-store sales. As detailed here, the company complemented its TV campaign with mobile video ads served to Walmart customers near specific store location providing more timely and different content that the TV ads. The campaign was two times more effective on mobile than average in driving foot traffic and sales. Similarly, the same article notes how Coca-Cola was able to up ad effectiveness 6.5 times through a campaign specifically designed for mobile video.

Whether or not this year ends up being the much heralded Year of Mobile where consumer time spent with mobile devices and advertisers’ spend on mobile advertising finally line up, there’s little question that advertisers should continue exploring the ways mobile can amp up their marketing mix.