Bango and Others Bring Analytics to the Mobile Arsenal

As budgets for mobile shift from experimental to standard line items, many advertisers require reporting on campaigns. The challenge for mobile companies selling advertising: most mobile phones don’t support cookies and other measurement methods typically used by analytics platforms on the Web.

To help satisfy the need for more robust mobile reporting, Bango today released an analytics solution that employs an assigned mobile ID and tracks things like conversions and whether a visitor is returning or new to a site. While the firm offers the same analytics to its clients, the service is now open to content owners and advertisers.

Mobile presents more than a simple cookie issue. “For the most part, [handsets] don’t support JavaScript, the traditional means for analytics,” said Brian Tomz, senior director of product strategy at Coremetrics. Other analytics barriers Tomz identified are the multitude of handset models, screen resolutions, and even the various phone networks in each country. “You get information that this particular page was viewed, but it lacks richness.”

On the Web, site visitors carry a refer identity to attribute the source that brought the visitor. Mobile browsers aren’t equipped to provide such information. Most refers on the mobile Web identify the carrier gateway, and identify the visitor as a Sprint or Verizon user. “Web analytics can’t tell you whether a mobile user is a unique individual, or the same person coming back again,” said Anil Malhotra, VP of marketing and alliances at Bango.

Through its publishing, transactional, and advertising services, Bango created what it calls a digital fingerprint to attach demographics and behavior to mobile users. Because of Bango’s handling of mobile payments for its clients, “We have to know if we’ve seen a user before,” Malhotra said.

Demand for this information identified a need for an analytics product across the sector. “Because Bango is embedded in carriers worldwide, we realized we can roll up the value of integration and technology to provide third-party reporting,” said Malhotra.

The new Bango Analytics service offers the ability to create a profile for users, and customize information to a user’s preferences, region, language, or other characteristics. In turn, it also reports to content owners and advertisers the number of visitors and clicks throughout the site. Using an assigned mobile ID, the analytics solution checks basics such as whether a visitor is returning or is someone new to the site.

“We’ve dug deeper than that, we can say to you which search term has the most traffic, how many people visit, and how many uniques versus repeats there were,” said Malhotra.

For advertisers, Bango reports data to determine the total return on a campaign, how many people registered for an offer, and how many visitors became paying customers. “We aren’t involved in the business of selling advertising or selling search traffic, and are therefore able to give an impartial view of traffic,” Malhotra told ClickZ. “Telling whether Yahoo is better than Google [in mobile], or if Admob beats them all.”

The analytics package is free for up to 10,000 page hits per month. Once a mobile site sees uptake in traffic, there’s a monthly charge from Bango based on activity levels.

Bango may be an early entry for third-party analytics for mobile, though other companies have come up with their own methods for measuring and providing data to their clients. Quattro Wireless is able to identify a unique client ID to track visitors, though often the ID is not unique to each user. From there, Quattro can build a profile. At some point the company wants to create unique subscriber records so it can track user behavior across its network in aggregate.

“Our strategy in some ways is to use the publishing inventory not just as page views, but to start to leverage it to build an audience profile to sell to advertisers,” said Eswar Priyadarshan, CTO at Quattro.

Ringleader Digital, formerly MoPhap, creates signatures for each device accessing a site to measure the effectiveness of mobile campaigns. The data are processed in real time, providing the ability to adjust campaigns.

Bango is able to track anonymous data across mobile by inferring information, but also due to its deep relationships with carriers worldwide. Amobee SVP and GM of the Americas Region Roger Wood said carriers are omniscient, but haven’t gotten into analytics. Wood believes that in order for a company to provide such analytics data on mobile usage, it would need to be a carrier or a company deeply integrated with the carrier in order to provide meaningful information. And even then, to get a sign-off from carriers to track usage for analytics would take “politics and prayer.”

Sarah Keefe, VP of marketing communications at Bango stressed the new analytics service abides by carrier agreements, and provides anonymous data. “We do not sell information about users; we are not a marketing company,” she said. “We operate in strict compliance with carrier agreements and no private or confidential information on an individual is ever revealed.”

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