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Mobile Measurement - 63% Admit to Flying Blind

  |  August 10, 2011   |  Comments

Why aren't mobile marketers held to a similar level of analytics rigor as other marketers?

That measuring marketing success - particularly mobile marketing – is a challenge isn't exactly headline news. However, a recent King Fish Media study published by eMarketer revealed that 63 percent of mobile marketers are either not even trying to measure return on investment on mobile campaigns, or worse, don't know. This came as a bit of a shock to me.

This study provides some fascinating data about the still nascent state of mobile marketing and measurement in North America. While the industry has made enormous progress these past few years, this study underscores how far all mobile marketers have to go in terms of helping to mature this extremely promising and fast-growing channel.

As the chart below attests, eMarketer recently polled mobile marketers on ROI stemming directly from mobile programs. A handful (8 percent) of respondents reported strong results. A few (10 percent) reported disappointing results. But, the great majority (63 percent) admitted that they were virtually clueless regarding the ROI of their mobile marketing campaigns.


While disappointingly predictable to close observers of the quickly evolving mobile marketing space, these results are very telling about how far mobile has to go before it can become the next great marketing medium.

If you contrasted these results to similar surveys done for web, email, search, display, or direct marketing programs, the percentage of respondents who declared that they either did not know or weren't measuring ROI would be miniscule.

Accountability and transparency in these channels is table stakes. Any marketer that revealed that they either "didn't know" or "wasn't measuring" their campaigns might soon be browsing Monster.com for a new job! So, why aren't mobile marketers held to a similar level of analytics rigor?

To begin with, despite the availability of measurement tools and maturing reporting standards, mobile still seems to be treated as an experimental channel. Additionally, mobile marketers have a herd mentality and have quickly and sometimes haphazardly deployed sites, apps, or campaigns (SMS, QR, etc.) to mimic moves made by their competition - without first considering objectives or their own specific key performance indicators (KPIs). In this rush to embrace mobile, brands turn to mobile partners who either lack solid analytics capabilities or persuade them that mobile is a good means of supporting larger enterprise level marketing objectives without truly understanding how to fold the channel into the larger strategic marketing mix. While mobile may in fact be a powerful means of supporting larger marketing-communications objectives, it is also a channel that provides a powerful array of channel-specific data that makes measurement imperative.

While many mobile marketing partners can assist brands with technology and creative muscle to create cool apps, slick sites, and sticky campaigns, they often lack the expertise or tools to support arguably the greatest need of any mobile marketer: measurement. In fact, mobile marketers too often prioritize investment on flashy creative - and measurement capabilities become secondary considerations. When pressed to provide analytics on campaign success, some of these partners encourage brands/content owners to embrace aftermarket solutions that are "free" to use.

When it comes to "free" solutions, brands typically get what they pay for. "Free" often means that there's a catch and typically the surprise here is that either the solution is capable of measuring only a fraction of available mobile devices or, worse, the data doesn't remain private and is used by these providers for a variety of other purposes. These are less than ideal outcomes for very obvious reasons.

A further challenge to measuring mobile marketing success is that, with most brands, mobile data tends to be highly siloed. For example, mobile web data is housed with one partner or platform, mobile app data with another, SMS data with yet another, QR data with that provider, mobile ad data with that partner, etc. Pulling all this data together and using it to shape insights is hard work. Most brands see it as too difficult of a task and are frustrated by the lack of solutions that exist for tackling this challenge.


With all these obstacles in mind, is it any wonder that 63 percent of marketers surveyed aren't measuring or don't know how?

Fortunately, successful, manageable mobile marketing measurement is possible, with a little advice and the right tools. Here are our top five tips for finding a great mobile analytics solution:

  1. Make certain the solution is capable of measuring mobile web and applications data for all key platforms (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, WinPhone7, Symbian) via one integrated platform.
  2. Determine whether your data will remain private or whether your partner is aggregating that data and using it for other (commercial) purposes.
  3. Ask your analytics provider to demonstrate how easy its platform is to use. Ideally, it shouldn't require a rocket scientist, an IT professional, or an analytics geek to operate. Rather, marketers should be able to use the platform to quickly and easily access reports, drive insights, and understand trends.
  4. Understand whether this mobile analytics solution charges to export data. Getting this data out of the platform for additional analysis or for importation into eCRM efforts is vital going forward and it should be easy to accommodate and not generate additional charges.
  5. Determine whether mobile data be overlaid against web and social data to provide insights about how your consumers behave on your website versus in social (pages, apps), via mobile (apps, mWeb, SMS, etc.). Also, does the platform provide an open API that makes it relatively easy to export data for additional analysis or for importation into a customer relationship management (CRM) database?

These are all important considerations and they should be questions that any serious mobile analytics partner is capable of addressing.

As mobile continues its rapid evolution, practitioners will be held to the same level of accountability as their digital counterparts. Not knowing or not measuring isn't going to be an acceptable answer and, with any luck at all, the numbers of those clueless regarding mobile marketing measurement will tumble in next year's survey. In the meantime, these survey results should be a powerful call to action for anyone who understands that measurement is critical to the success of this channel going forward.

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Mike Ricci

As vice president of mobile, Mike Ricci oversees the growing mobile marketing products and services business at Webtrends which spans apps, optimization and analytics. Prior to Webtrends, Ricci was vice president and mobile practice leader at Merkle where he established the company's presence in mobile marketing and worked with Merkle's blue-chip client list to develop mobile engagement strategies. Ricci was also vice president of creative and strategy for iLoop Mobile and has held key executive roles at Volantis Systems, Aggreko plc, and York International Corp.

With over 20 years of executive experience, Ricci is a recognized thought leader in the mobile marketing industry. He has worked with leading brands including Clorox, Coca-Cola, Dell, Disney, Lane Bryant, Men's Wearhouse, Microsoft, Samsung, TGI Fridays, and Wendy's. He also led strategy and creative for the Obama '08 mobile programs and initiatives - which was honored as 2008's mobile marketer of the year.

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