When It Comes To Holiday Buying, Think Mobile

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The Time Is Now For Marketers To Engage The Mobility Mindset

By Heidi Browning Pearson

Heidi Browning Pearson is SVP, Marketing at Pandora.

‘Tis the season for marketers to get serious about mobile marketing. While that seems obvious given the rapid adoption of tablets and smartphones, many marketers have been remarkably slow to adapt their strategies beyond small test-and-learn plans. Successful marketers employ mobile as the connective tissue throughout their media plans. They understand that mobility isn’t just a trend, it’s a fundamental consumer behavior shift.

eMarketer predicts U.S. adults will spend more time this year on mobile devices than on desktop or laptop PCs. It will come as no surprise, then, that holiday shopping via mobile device is also on the rise. During the holiday season, consumers spend even more time on mobile — shopping, communicating and entertaining. According to e-commerce predictive analytics company Custora, mobile commerce grew 50% year-over-year to account for 29% of holiday e-commerce orders in 2013. In fact, according to eMarketer, we’re on track to see mobile commerce sales reach $58 billion by the end of 2014, and $133 billion by 2018.

Here are some thoughts on how to reframe your approach to mobile and explore how it fits best into your brand’s engagement strategies.

Embrace The Mobility Mindset A Mobility Mindset is about taking a consumer-centric, device agnostic approach in an increasingly connected world. This is about enabling consumers to access content on their terms — in a simple and seamless manner across devices. Marketers have known for years they have to start with their consumer, but many haven’t figured out how to crack the code in an un-tethered world. Spend the time to understand consumer screen-jumping behavior to identify opportunities to incorporate mobile as the connective tissue in your plan.

Creativity Is In The Eye and The Ear As an industry, it is time to reframe our collective opinion of mobile display. You will hear creatives and marketers kvetch about the size of the canvas and how could it possibly be an effective storytelling device. Well, for one thing — it’s the only ad on the screen. You have 100% share of eye. Challenge your teams to be creative in small spaces. A small canvas can deliver beautiful and effective creative.

I’d like to ask you to consider another creative idea… the power of audio. With the acceleration of technology, audio is having a renaissance. Audio is a really important and effective messaging and storytelling tool. Think about all the people you see with mobile phones and earbuds while shopping, working out, commuting, working, etc. An audio message cuts through the clutter, doesn’t require someone to look at a screen, and delivers 100% share of ear in this multi-tasking world. Fun fact: mobile audio is an IAB standard ad!

Mobile Attribution Gets Interesting The biggest opportunity for us as an industry is to study mobile ROI. This is the number one reason marketers do not invest more money into mobile.

Why is mobile ROI so hard?

  1. CTRs don’t tell the whole story — real world conversions need real world metrics
  2. Current attribution methods fall short — sparse location data, response bias
  3. No common currency — standard, unbiased metrics needed for true campaign evaluation
  4. Execution of mobile attribution is operationally challenging, given lack of cookies

There are now all kinds of research companies and technologies emerging that will help us understand and measure ROI in interesting ways. Companies such as Placed offer the opportunity to correlate in-app ad exposure to in-store traffic — a key objective for many marketers during the holiday season. The research methodology leverages a panel of mobile consumers who have an app on their phone. The app triangulates their location data and overlays with surveys. While there is some complexity in execution of this type of study, it is important to understand not only how to measure, but also the impact of your mobile investment.

So give your marketing strategy the gift of mobile this year. Embrace consumer behavior, think about creativity through both the eye and ear, and get curious about measurement.