Paul Korber
Aug 1, 2017

How are advertisers coping with the mobile-first mentality?

Seven out of 20 brand managers feel they lack a reasonable grasp of mobile advertising techniques and mobile ROI. Paul Korber of Marin Software explores why.

How are advertisers coping with the mobile-first mentality?

Advertisers are still struggling to adapt to the behavioural patterns of the now-ubiquitous smartphone user.

When we surveyed more than 500 advertising professionals (both agency and in-house) for Marin Software’s State of Digital Advertising report, we found that the biggest challenge around delivering ROI on mobile was a “lack of understanding of mobile advertising techniques.” Over a third of marketers (35 percent) cited this as their top hurdle to implementing mobile marketing.

This means that in a room of 20 brand managers, seven would lack a reasonable grasp of mobile advertising techniques, and would be unable to speak with authority on the returns that investing in a mobile strategy has in today’s mobile world. 

What makes mobile so challenging for marketers?

Every industry has a different definition of what a product is. This means that some marketers are reluctant to adopt mobile advertising and potentially miss out on a quickly growing market.

Take the travel industry, for instance. 

With the thousands of product variables and the long research processes that consumers undertake, many would think that there wouldn’t be much of a mobile market for the travel industry. However, the modern traveller is more mobile-proficient than ever. Clickthrough rates for the travel industry are virtually the same across desktop, smartphones, and tablets, and the cost-per-click (CPC) for smartphones is consistently 40 percent lower than the CPC for desktop and tablet devices. If an industry as complex as the travel industry can adapt and thrive in the mobile space, so can others.

Overall, the investment among advertisers in mobile paid search and social media almost equals the budget invested in desktop. However, for various reasons, many find that they are not achieving the same level of success for their mobile campaigns.

The main problem is that marketers find mobile campaigns ineffective in the crucial conversion stage of the marketing funnel. 

Advertisers are investing in mobile as a broadcast channel but aren’t seeing the same level of direct returns from mobile as they are from desktop advertising. However, as technological developments continue to influence behaviour changes, marketers should shift to mobile and give these strategies more focus.

Ultimately, in order for advertisers to have the confidence to elevate mobile in their campaigns, they first need to know what the future of mobile advertising looks like.

What do advertisers need to know?

1. Mobile search remains on the rise

The steady increase in mobile use has dominated the search marketing industry, especially with Google’s removal of the right-hand ad rail optimising search results for mobile. Mobile was highly rated as a channel for delivering strong ROI for paid search campaigns. As technology in AI and voice search develops, we can expect mobile search to become an area of increasing focus.

2. Mobile display is dead

Despite 61 percent of advertisers reporting that they invest in display advertising on mobile, mobile was considered the worst-performing channel for display advertising. The huge rise in popularity of online ad blockers may have contributed to this poor performance. This is more marked in mobile compared to desktop where loading display advertising can be incredibly expensive for consumers from a data standpoint.

3. Mobile-first is the most effective way to target Asian markets

Mobile-only advertising methods such as in-app advertising and direct messaging are most popular among advertisers in Asia. Nearly 40 percent of Asia-based advertisers report that they invest in in-app advertising on mobile and SMS/MMS messaging. Rapid technological development has witnessed Asian countries lead the charge in mobile consumption, and the attitude towards mobile marketing in the region reflects this. For marketers targeting China in particular, Baidu remains untapped by advertisers outside of Asia. Despite more than 700 million Chinese Internet users served by search engines in China, a majority of advertisers (60 percent) reported that Baidu was not relevant to their interests.

Overall, ever-changing technology and fluid consumer behaviour will continue to contribute to the challenges in mobile marketing. However, by investing in the knowledge behind current mobile trends and delving into consumer expectations, advertisers can be one step ahead and deliver valuable ROI for their campaigns. 

Paul Korber is the regional vice president of customer success, APAC at Marin Software.


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