Mobile Marketers Debate Measurement Standards

Measurement was the topic on just about every attendee’s mind at the Mobile Marketing Association’s (MMA) Mobile Marketing Forum held in New York last week. Mobile marketing technology companies are identifying with the importance of measuring both internal metrics, and seeking third-party metrics, to report back to advertisers.

At the conference, the MMA announced the formation of a Global Measurement Committee (GMC), and hailed it as the next step in moving marketers from trial stages to allocating more budgets to mobile. Additionally, Nielsen announced its new mobile devices tracking service, Nielsen Wireless.

Measurement standards will drive quality of inventory by determining reach, according to Roger Wood, SVP and GM of the Americas region at Amobee. “The MMA is advancing,” said Wood. “The advertising industry is starting to recognize mobile, and see quality of inventory as a factor.”

Established standards will allow advertisers to compare impressions in different areas of mobile, in addition to other media channels. While service providers understand the importance of measuring mobile engagement with consumers, those metrics are often overlooked by advertisers. One conference exhibitor said some clients aren’t measuring campaigns. Another attendee said marketers run campaigns to get buzz, and don’t worry about results, due in part to the current slight reach of mobile.

Though the committee is expected to determine guidelines for industry-wide standards for measurement, a third-party data provider was still welcomed by many in the industry. At the conference Nielsen announced its new service, Nielsen Wireless, which will measure how many people use content services such as the mobile Web and mobile video. It is part of Nielsen’s Anytime Anywhere Media measurement (A2/M2) initiative, announced last year.

Data from Niesen’s existing National People Meter TV panel will be used for reporting. The service aims to help wireless carriers develop more efficient advertising campaigns and extend reach, as well as help the mobile media industry with competitive positioning and differentiation, and identify how subscribers of different wireless carriers consume media in the home.

While Nielsen plans to use a similar panel to the one it built for the TV media channel, pure-play mobile research firms like M:Metrics and Telephia assemble mobile-specific panels. M:Metrics said it selects a new panel each month in order to provide a better sample, and said it also maintains a panel to physically track mobile media consumption through opt-in handsets.

“Advertisers are now fairly hesitant to buy mobile, they need to know their [campaigns are] independently audited,” said Bob Walczak, Jr., CEO of MoPhap, a publisher network and ad network.

Some mobile ad networks have already looked to third-parties to provide or enhance data. Third Screen Media partnered with Telephia to match data from its panel with the ad network’s measured results. Ad Infuse and InsightExpress announced a partnership to use data from InsightExpress’ new mobile media measurement platform, Mobile AdInsights, for use with Ad Infuse’s client database.

The benefits of an independent data source like Nielsen Wireless, M:Metrics or Telephia are well recognized, though some said the metrics issue needs to be taken care of in-house first.

“I welcome it, but it’s not the Holy Grail,” said Jon Hadl, CEO at Brand in Hand. “We as marketers need to spend time getting our own data.”

Some companies already report certain metrics. Bango provides to its clients the number of uniques, recurring traffic, as well as click-through and conversion rates of adWords campaigns, among other numbers. “We are still in an early point in the industry, [and] the modus operandi is arriving in force,” said Anil Malhotra, SVP of alliances and marketing, and founder of Bango.

Whether in-house or independent, measurement standards should address issues concerning impressions and other activities. Debra Bluman, VP of product marketing at Crisp Wireless said spiders and Web crawlers count as ad impressions when they search a site indexing. To account for this type of traffic, each month Crisp manually culls through the data to eliminate bots and non user-driven traffic. She said clients respond to the data audits, particularly because Crisp receives incremental revenue based on traffic to the sites it builds for clients.

While the MMA believes the GMC is an important step toward growth in the mobile channel, the association also plans to work with other industry groups including the GSMA, which recently formed its own working group to explore mobile advertising and entertainment.

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