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We connect mobile ad effectiveness with branding metrics

No kind of advertising is on the rise as much as mobile advertising right now. At the same time, however, there is also no other area where we have known so little about the actual effect of campaigns. Advertisers are in the dark about which messages actually reach which screens – that is unless they use an innovative solution able, for the first time, to precisely analyze the impact achieved in the highly dynamic advertising market.  

Introducing GfK Experience Effects, with new mobile ad effectiveness capabilities.

A good three years ago, a Brazilian car insurer posted an attention-grabbing ad on potential custo­m­­ers‘ smartphones and tablets. The ad showed an image of a car, but as soon as the user tried to swipe the screen to remove it, the car crashed at full speed against the edge of the screen. The campaign‘s tagline was “Unexpected events happen without warning. Make a Bradesco car insurance plan.“

The campaign may have attracted a lot of attention and won a Gold Lion award in Cannes, but one thing remained a mystery: Which smartphone users and how many screens did it actually reach? What brand impact did the creative ad make on its target audience? In other words, did the insurance company benefit from the effectiveness of the ad itself, or was it just from winning a Gold Lion?

These questions sound trite but are a sign of a fundamental problem in the mobile sector: Apart from the delivery figures, until now there has not been any effective overall strategy to examine the impact of mobile advertising. Anyone involved in mobile advertising simply has to hope that their messages actually reach – and influence – their intended recipients. Henry Ford‘s remark that half the money spent on advertising is wasted, the trouble is you don‘t know which half, still rings a bell with advertisers in this mobile age.

GfK Experience Effects, which debuted its mobile ad effectiveness capability in three markets in November 2015, now systematically removes this widespread uncertainty. This is because its innovative technology for in-app analysis captures ad effectiveness on mobile browsers and apps for the first time. Its launch in Great Britain, the US and Germany just a few months ago is set to quickly be followed by further markets.

„The challenge for marketers is the increased emersion of brands in a digital world. Behavioral KPIs are not enough now, robust branding metrics are essential.“

Arno Hummerston // Global Director of Brand and Customer Experience GfK

Uncertainty in the world‘s fastest growing advertising market

This sentiment has stemmed from the enormous demand caused by the fast-growing significance of mobile channels. Mobile devices are now the most lucrative digital advertising medium in the world. US$100 billion – that‘s 51 percent of the total digital advertising budget – are expected to be spent on mobile channels in 2016. By 2019, spending is anticipated to double to US$196 billion, meaning it would account for over two-thirds of the expenditure on digital advertising. “We are now witnessing the fastest transition of ad budgets in history as marketers and agencies scramble to catch up with consumers‘ embrace of the mobile way of life,“ marvels Steve King, CEO of the global media agency ZenithOptimedia, in the company-owned blog. “Mobile technology is rapidly transforming the way consumers across the world live their lives, and is disrupting business models across all industries.“

ZenithOptimedia forecasts that 12.4 percent of global ad spending in 2016 will be on mobile ads, the figure overtaking print advertising (11.9 percent) for the first time. This means mobile media is now the third most important advertising medium after TV and PC – a fact that is not so surprising when you think that there are over two billion smartphone users in the world. What‘s more, many consumers in China and the developing countries of Asia in particular only ever go online using their smartphones.  

To find out more about the mobile-first market Indonesia

One user suddenly becomes three in analyses

While the number of mobile users is increasing at a rapid rate, analysis of their usage behavior is noticeably lagging behind. “One of the main problems is that apps do not allow cookies. And, without cookies, reliable user identification from various devices was impossible to date,“ explains Arno Hummerston, Global Director of Brand and Customer Experience at GfK. This shortcoming led to a frustrating lack of precision when evaluating reach. For example, if an ad first reaches a user on an app and then via a web browser on his smartphone, the user is mistakenly identified as two recipients. Every additional channel used, for example a desktop or tablet, adds another phantom user.

Traditional recall questions in surveys are also of limited significance on mobile media devices. Hummerston says that many users don‘t remember having seen mobile ads when questioned because they are so discreetly posted. He adds that some respondents also claim that they have seen ads even though they had definitely not appeared on their screens.  

“The challenge for marketers is that the increased emersion of brands in a digital world means the understanding of the impact on awareness, image, reputation, emotional connection and resonance is needed more than ever,“ explains Hummerston. “Behavioral KPIs are not enough now – robust branding metrics are essential.“

GfK‘s approach provides an overview of mobile user behavior

It is precisely this new GfK Experience Effects approach that provides these brand KPIs. It bridges the digital gap in efficiency analysis and measures the effect of mobile advertising campaigns across all devices. This provides marketers with a quality of reliable data and in-depth analysis in the mobile media segment that has never been achieved before.

Or, looking at it the other way around, one could say that not evaluating mobile ad effectiveness is like firing a shot in the dark and hoping the bullet will somehow reach its target. Only a precise examination of results, impact and optimization opportunities that GfK Experience Effects offers can drive campaign success. So now, it can be ensured that creative campaigns like Bradesco‘s are well received by the intended target audience – and not just the creative world.