Mobile devices and the real-time view of consumer foot traffic they enable, are the key to connecting online activities to offline commerce and store visitation, according to a recent mobile study by Nielsen commissioned by xAd.
The study, “Campaign Design for Driving In-Store Visits,” analyzed and measured consumer behavior across 12 major brands and nearly 80 individual ad campaigns in the retail, restaurant, and auto verticals. It focused mostly on two aspects of a mobile campaign: location targeting and creative messaging.
Offline impact in the study was measured by store visitation lift (SVL) and post-exposure visitation rate. SVL represents the rate that a group of consumers who saw an ad campaign visited a store compared to normal visitation rate for that business measured by non-ad-exposed audience.
The study reveals that retail has a SVL of 14 percent, and the highest post-ad exposure visitation rate of 9.5 percent, proving that mobile can be used effectively for brand building and engagement, as well as driving immediate action.
For retail campaigns, the strongest performing creative includes a message showing the distance to the nearest business location. For example, “Find Store” may not be the most compelling message by itself. But when an ad shows the nearest business location alongside a “Find Store” call to action (CTA) it sees the highest visitation lift, more than twice as high as the average lift for retail.
“When we originally designed the study, we were expecting ‘Find Store’ to be one of the most successful CTA. However, what we found is that this message alone was not enough,” says Sarah Ohle, director of marketing intelligence at xAd. “When it comes to banner ads, 320 x 50 is not a lot of space to work with, so marketers need to find a balance between providing the most important information without cluttering the ad.”
Without the location message, a “Learn More” CTA is the most effective, indicating consumers may want to research their purchases prior to visiting. Meanwhile, competitive conquesting, or geo-targeting around competing retail locations, is also a strong tactic, according to the report.
Overall, the restaurant vertical has a SVL of 16.92 percent and a post-exposure visitation rate of 6 percent. However, the post-exposure visitation rate differs between sit-down restaurants (4 percent) and quick-service establishments (9 percent), which means that consumers simply visit fast-food places with higher frequency.
Like the retail vertical, adding a nearest location message directly to the banner ad has a huge value in driving foot traffic to restaurants. “For both Retail and Restaurants, all the geo-targeting and messaging tactics increase store visitation, but some tactics are even more effective than others,” Ohle explains. “Adding a dynamic location message showing the distance to the closest business is the strongest visitation driver for both categories.”
In addition to geo-proximity, competitive conquesting has value for restaurants as well. However, this technique may not be the optimal option for driving immediate foot traffic. For example, when a consumer has a specific restaurant or type of food in mind, they may not be convinced by the same approach that could work for a retail shopper.
Compared to retail and restaurants, the auto industry has the highest SVL (69.53 percent) but the lowest post-exposure visitation rate (0.4 percent). This proves that while mobile ads are important for this category, the majority of actual conversions are still happening in person, says the study.
“Auto purchases are by nature going to be less frequent than retail or restaurant decisions. Since nearly all auto purchases are completed in person, both raising awareness and driving lot visitation with mobile is extremely important for this category,” Ohle explains. “When you consider the dollar size of an auto purchase, even though the visitation rate is lower comparatively, any change to this that a mobile campaign can create can be incredibly impactful.”
For this category, geo-proximity is not as effective in encouraging on-lot behaviors as it is for retail and restaurants. And while competitive conquesting encourages clicks and secondary actions, it can hardly drive immediate traffic to a dealership.
Different from retail and restaurants, the most successful mobile strategy in auto, according to the study, is adding a “Learn More” message combined with a loyalty geo-fence.
Commenting on the findings, Ohle suggests that marketers in the retail, restaurant, and auto sectors should figure out how each mobile advertising tactic works in a specific industry, because consumers have very different needs across verticals.
“For both retail and restaurants, proximity targeting combined with a dynamic location message is the best performing tactic,” she adds. “Using a call-to-action encouraging further brand engagement (e.g. ‘Learn More’) is also a powerful tactic for both retail and auto, showing that consumers may want to do their research first, and then are compelled to visit a location.”
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