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5 Mobile Advertising Myths – and How to Bust Them

  |  September 2, 2014   |  Comments

There are still many myths surrounding the world of mobile advertising. Here are five of the most common ones, and a look at what the truth really is.

Despite recent advances in cross-screen targeting and attribution, many faulty beliefs about mobile marketing still persist. As marketers head into yearly planning sessions and the all-important fourth quarter, here are five myths worth mentioning - and debunking.

Myth #1: Click-Through Rate (CTR) Will Continue to Be the Industry's Metric of Choice.

According to eMarketer, CTR and cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) remain mobile's key efficiency benchmarks - even though marketers know that these metrics are far from perfect, and aren't relevant for every campaign.

Click-through rate is a poor metric for mobile: recent studies have found that the highest clicks on mobile occur in flashlight and game-related inventory, regardless of the vertical being advertised. Mobile site takeovers generate countless accidental clicks, not to mention the very real concern of click fraud on mobile devices. Clicks are simply not the best metric for mobile.

Savvy marketers like Sarah Bidnick at TodayTix have eliminated their brands' reliance on CTR as a performance indicator, instead using mobile attribution software to track their campaigns all the way through to post-install engagement, revenue per purchase, and even lifetime customer value. In time, these new, more meaningful metrics will replace CTR and CPM.

Myth #2: Mobile Banners Don't Work.

While it's true that mobile banner performance (again, as measured by the flawed CTR) has declined in the past year, response rates are still well above those on desktop, according to Sizmek. For large brand awareness campaigns, where presence, pricing, and pure tonnage are key concerns, mobile banners can't be beat. The key to using them effectively is remembering mobile's small screen size - use optimized images and minimal text.

Myth #3: All Mobile Rich Media Ads Are Created Equal.

While banners may hold a worthwhile place in your mobile marketing arsenal, rich media ads naturally drive better performance. On Facebook, as across the Web, analysts are seeing higher engagement rates for these innovative units. Yet, while mobile rich media ads drive greater engagement than banners, one type of rich media outperforms them all: in-stream mobile video ads. These ads drive response rates nearly five times greater than rich media ads without video, according to eMarketer, citing a recent Pointroll study. What's more, completion rates for these units are also higher, showing the power of mobile video to captivate audiences.

Myth #4: Native Mobile Ads Are Too Nascent to Test.

The market for mobile native ads is already here. Analysts estimate that native ad spending on social media will grow from $3.1 billion this year to $5 billion in 2017 - growth far outpacing that of social display ads. With the arrival of standardized formats that make creative production simple, high-quality inventory, and advanced targeting capabilities for these units, now is the time to test and learn.

Myth #5: Location Data Is Only Useful If You Have a Retail Location.

Last fall, I lamented the rise of location targeting as a mere coupon-delivery system. This year, it's been heartening to see how marketers are using location data in innovative new ways. For example, marketers seeking to engage an affluent audience are starting to target users who frequent certain stores or vacation destinations, not just those who live in a particular ZIP code. Similarly, marketers are starting to use mobile location data like frequent visits to airports and hotels or stadiums to identify business traveler or sports fan audiences, respectively. These marketers then employ that intelligence for future retargeting campaigns. In this way, mobile location data becomes part of the consumer profile a brand seeks to target - even across screens.


Kristin Kovner

Kristin Kovner is a digital marketing, technology, and media industry veteran. Her firm, K-SQUARED STRATEGIES, helps high-growth media and tech companies develop and execute best-in-class marketing strategies. Prior to opening her own consultancy, Kristin served as the Vice President of Marketing Strategy at AOL, where she managed the AOL and AOL Advertising brands and set and executed the go-to-market strategy for AOL's owned and operated websites, including AOL.com, Moviefone, MapQuest, Engadget, and The Huffington Post.

Prior to joining AOL, Kristin served as the Head of Industry Marketing for YouTube and held various roles on Google's marketing team. Kristin has also worked as a journalist for Newsweek and SmartMoney, The Wall Street Journal's magazine, and as an economic consultant at Bates White LLC.

Kristin graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from Yale College and currently lives in New York City.

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