First there were clicks, then click though, and now advertisers are on the cusp of being able to track Internet impact through what they really wanted all along: actual purchases. But the rush of the buying public towards mobile devices has created a whole new set of issues that the advertising industry is being forced to confront.
The rapid rise of advertising for the mobile platform is transforming the marketing industry, and how to measure and monetize it was the key focus for company leaders and agency executives yesterday in San Francisco who gathered for the third annual Mobile Media Summit, the largest mobile media and advertising conference in North America.
Smartphone and app usage are driving advertisers to mobile technology, with a projected spend of $64 billion in 2015 alone. But the tools to effectively deliver those ads and measure results have lagged behind mobile’s growth. That’s about to change.
Last week, AppsFlyer, an Israeli startup with Twitter, Google, and Facebook as partners, raised an additional $20 million of funding to help its development of an engine to measure the effectiveness of in-app mobile ads. AppsFlyer’s main selling point is that rather than measuring clicks (historically the standard benchmark for advertising performance), it can track actions taken inside that app for weeks, including purchases. “Cost per click is a dead metric,” declared Oren Kaniel, AppsFlyer’s CEO.
While AppsFlyer offers hope to the advertising industry as an important new tool to measure mobile effectiveness, there are still plenty of other issues confronting ad agencies and their clients today. One of these is app discoverability.
When Google burst on the scene and provided a comprehensive platform to find and use rapidly expanding global Internet content, it revolutionized the medium for users. So far, a similar way to find what you want in the app space has not appeared on the horizon.
This has made advertisers wary of devoting big budgets to the app platform, unless they can be guaranteed a huge audience for their products. This is a real dilemma because recent data shows that consumers spend more time using mobile apps than web browsers and desktops and laptops combined.
“App discoverability is a massive issue,” said Paran Johar, CEO and founder of the Mobile Media Summit.
Advertisers desperately want to reach consumers through apps because they believe they can deliver the best customer experience in that medium. But they must tread carefully because smartphone owners are less likely to be happy about receiving ads on their personal device than when one suddenly pops up on their laptop or desktop computer.
“We have to try, we have to learn, we have to fail,” said Alison Gensheimer, vice president of digital marketing for Wells Fargo, during a panel session yesterday.
The “trial and error nature” of the ad industry today has led to some interesting experiments in how to integrate advertising in less obvious ways. A good example of this can be found in the popular game app called QuizUp. When Essence, the agency that handles a lot of the publicity for Google Maps, was looking for a good brand marketing opportunity, they created a partnership with QuizUp to integrate Maps into the game.
The net result is an ad that creates value for the gaming app experience without being disruptive or intrusive. “When the ad crosses the threshold into relevant content, it’s no longer an ad,” said the Summit’s Johar.
Indeed, this may be the ultimate solution for the ad industry as it wrestles with a technology universe that is changing at light speed all around them. “All we’re really trying to do is reach people,” said Jim McArthur, managing director for BoM, during a discussion at yesterday’s San Francisco event. The irony is that the technology which is designed to make it easier to connect with each other in today’s world, is becoming more of a challenge for advertisers who want to get their message across.