Measuring Mobile Web Advertising

Recently, I sat down with Chris Kearns, leading Web analytics consultant for our company. He’s spent over a decade in the industry and is a frequent speaker at conferences around the world. More important, he’s a fanatic about keeping up with the latest news. He shared his point of view on some upcoming industry trends, specifically in the mobile space.

Shane Atchison: What do you see as the biggest upcoming trend in the industry?

Chris Kearns: The mobile Web, or the fourth screen, is here, no doubt. I just watched a live blog of Steve Jobs’ keynote at the Apple WWDC Conference, introducing all the great things around the iPhone 3G. Microsoft recently announced a huge push into mobile Web advertising; and where ad dollars go, business models will surely follow.

SA: What kind of feedback are you getting from others?

CK: I’ve talked to a few mobile analytics CEOs over the past few weeks on the state of the market, and they are understandably bullish.

SA: What does that mean for Web analytics? How do you tailor it to Web versus mobile and effectively capture your audience either way?

CK: If we’re talking analytics, we’ll need to take what we’ve learned from site-side behavior and, as you said, tailor it to the mobile space. This includes understanding behaviors across experiences. Achieving one view of all online efforts will be a tough and vital piece of understanding the customer’s full experience. The technology to make it happen will be even trickier. We’ll be paying close attention to what the maturation of the mobile Web means: integrating mobile measurement and analysis with site-side and creating best practices around mobile-only measurement.

SA: What’s the benefit to all of this? More technology isn’t necessarily better.

CK: True, but what this gives us is a simplified experience. My favorite mobile sites do a few things that make me come back. They understand which browser I’m on and react (Amazon has a great BlackBerry site and a great iPhone site), and they reduce the information on the screen and the actions that can be taken down to a critical few, mostly because of space considerations.

SA: Sounds similar to what you’re already preaching in Web analytics, right?

CK: You got it. We’ve been working with clients for years to embrace a user-centric design, which usually includes reducing the clutter on the page and getting the critical few calls to action highlighted front and center. With the mobile Web, companies will have less ability to throw clutter at their customers, mostly because there’s less space to tempt them. Information overload on the small screen is so much more obvious and distracting; customers will quickly go elsewhere.

SA: Yes, there’s lots of clutter out there still, isn’t there?

CK: Way too much! My Facebook home page on Firefox has more calls to action than I can count. Compare that to the iPhone version of the same Facebook page. There are seven calls to action, and they are all things I do on the site every day.

SA: Think that’s a sign of what’s to come?

CK: My guess is that if we look at Facebook and their goals as a company, those seven mobile actions are the most important to them. (I hope they’ve run monetization models to prove it.) If necessity is the mother of invention, then the coming mobile wave may be the thing we’ve all been waiting for: widespread adaptation of a simple, goals-based approach to the online experience in your pocket.

Oh, and solitaire, too. You’ve got to have solitaire.

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