MBPT Spotlight: Nielsen Offers Marketers Advice On Developing Their Mobile Campaign Strategies

A new report by Nielsen is offering marketers some tips on how best to effectively reach consumers using mobile devices—particularly the smartphones that are now the preference of 62% of all mobile phone users.

The report intelligently starts by stating the obvious: Mobile technology is changing so fast that it’s hard for brands to come up with sound marketing strategies, and harder still to come up with methods to measure the return on investment of mobile campaigns.

However, the report cites a Nielsen survey of 287 senior brand executives, finding that 69% of them said they would increase their mobile spending if they could be offered a way to “improve clarity” around the actual return on their brands’ mobile advertising investment. And 68% said they would be willing to increase mobile ad spending if there was a way to verify that the advertising created the desired result—for example, increased awareness of a brand.

“Many marketers feel intimidated by mobile,” says the report, written by Nielsen’s Jeff Smith, senior VP, global solutions, marketing and product leadership, and by Dorothy Tse, VP, product management. “But mobile is just another channel to reach their desired audience. The basics still apply. And to ensure those basics do not get overwhelmed by techno-metrics peculiar to the medium, we offer some specific recommendations for marketers on their mobile campaigns and mobile strategy.”

Among the salient points Nielsen’s report offers to marketers:

Don’t lose sight of what you’re trying to accomplish: For a mobile brand advertising campaign to succeed, it is critical, as with any kind of advertising, to establish the single marketing objective for the campaign against which success will be measured and ROI calculated. There is no harm in measuring secondary objectives, but performance against the primary objective should be used to determine success.

Ensure your agency and media partners are aligned with these business objectives and explicit performance goals:
Unless everyone is on board in this regard from the get-go, your campaign is almost certain to fail. In a recent study Nielsen conducted, 83% of media sellers surveyed said that agreement on what constitutes success for the performance of a campaign would help them improve campaign results for brand marketers. Unfortunately, only 6% of agencies reported that they were always able to establish the primary marketing objective in advance of the campaign. Approximately one in five agencies and publishers say that what constitutes success is not clearly defined.

Don’t use idiosyncratic metrics to optimize or measure the success of brand advertising campaigns: Click-through rates are perfectly appropriate as measures of the effectiveness of direct response campaigns, but irrelevant to brand advertising efforts. Brand marketers, agencies and media sellers may all agree that sales and brand lift are the most appropriate methods to determine the effectiveness of online brand advertising, but 61% of media sellers still believe click-through rates are relevant to it.

Take advantage of the real-time nature of the medium:
Use technologies, and work with ad networks and media owners, that will allow you to monitor campaign performance in flight, and make adjustments as needed. Further, require that your partners proactively make recommendations for improvement to you. Brand marketers are quite clear that they want this—87% of brand marketers rated “in-market optimization of my campaigns against brand metrics” as being very important. In a recent study by Nielsen, however, only one-third of media sellers reported that they were able to optimize based on brand lift. When they do have the right data, media sellers are proactively providing in-flight optimization recommendations only about half of the time. Less than one-third provide in-flight optimization recommendations for every campaign.

Choose an agency partner with mobile experience and a commitment in managing your campaigns proactively, not just launching them: Most brand marketers work with a media agency to execute mobile initiatives, but not all agencies are created equal. Your agency should be able to advise you on the best creative tactics and mobile channels to achieve your objectives. Further, the agency should bring a comprehensive approach to your advertising effort, ensuring your mobile strategy is aligned with your efforts in other channels such as TV and online, as well as providing a consistent cross-platform analysis of your advertising performance on a per-campaign basis across campaigns. Finally, it is important that your agency partner also engage in the process of monitoring and optimizing brand lift in real-time, adjusting creative, frequency and placement in order to produce the best possible outcome.

Unfortunately, only one in five agencies say they can optimize based on brand lift, even though the technology to do so is readily available. The majority of agencies (68%) say they optimize based on click-through rates or other measures of engagement. And 20% of agencies say they lack the real-time data on relevant metrics needed to optimize a mobile campaign.

Build relevant benchmarks against which to measure performance over time: A common mistake advertisers make is to focus their attention on the result of a single campaign, particularly when it is a large one. Brands aren’t built in a day—or via a single mega advertising campaign. Your evaluation of the effectiveness of your efforts and the partners you have chosen to work with should be based on a cumulative view of performance. The performance benchmarks that will provide the most powerful understanding of how a mobile strategy is playing out will be benchmarks specific to your own brands. Over time, these benchmarks will allow you to develop best practices for mobile.

Maintain ownership of your mobile advertising effort: Most brand marketers do not have the same level of expertise in mobile advertising as they do in more traditional media, and they so end up relying heavily on agencies to manage their mobile advertising efforts. That is fine, as long as they do not remove themselves completely from the details of the development and execution of their mobile strategy. This is especially the case if you want the flexibility to work with different agencies over time, without losing ownership of your historical data or normative benchmarks.

It’s important to remember that mobile is just another channel for brands to reach and engage with their chosen audience. It is subject to the same general rules and best practices for marketing and advertising as TV, online, print and radio.