As more global consumers adopt and integrate mobile apps into their daily lives, marketers are wise to understand how they orient and interact in this environment. "In-app" is the most powerful mobile marketing environment we have. This highly receptive state offers unique ways for brands to effectively and directly engage consumers. There are two avenues for the marketer: advertising to the receptive in-app consumer while they are engaged in that environment and/or developing a branded app to build loyalty.
Winning with in-app advertising
If we think about the consumer's state of mind when in-app, it's easy to imagine how well executed advertising can succeed there. All consumers "in" an app have essentially "opted in" to the environment. As a result, consumers are attuned to messaging and are receptive to it. Well-targeted, rich, useful, in-app advertising resonates in this environment because a connection can happen at the right time, appropriate place, and in a personalized way, handing control to the consumers themselves. Imaginative uses by a QSR brand of things like the smart phone's accelerometer, allowing a consumer to mix and select various menu items by shaking their device, is one strong example we've seen in the market.
Location-based advertising has been another trigger for the growth of in-app advertising. U.S.-based location-targeted mobile ad revenues are expected to grow from $4.3 billion in 2014 to $18.2 billion in 2019, according to research from BIA Kelsey. Location-enabled programmatic mobile inventory has doubled in the last year. Today, more than 60 percent of all mobile ad requests include location data of some kind.
As the available data and technology improves, more mobile ad marketers are using it to drive greater campaign relevance. Advertisers and ad networks now have the ability to collect and process volumes of consumer data to create more targeted and timely mobile marketing. The better the data, the more precise the targeting can be. When coupled with definitive place, or POI data, accurate location data allows marketers to develop powerful consumer audiences based on their prior mobile activity, behavioral frequency, and device information.
Data input needs to be verified for accuracy or the data led marketing will be wasted on the wrong people. The upfront vetting you do with your data solutions, providers, and partners on the methodology is essential. The most accurate form of location data is real-time, latitude and longitude coordinates pulled directly from a mobile device's global positioning system (GPS). Leveraging precise location data, marketers can reach consumers within steps of a retailer, driving foot traffic from potential shoppers, or capture consumers' intent on visiting competing retailers nearby. That's where you want to be.
The branded app as marketing
According to a recent study from Forrester Research, consumers spend more than 85 percent of their time on smartphones using native apps. In fact, consumers don't even consider many of these apps "native." They consider them "functional" -- tools to effectively interact with brands they depend on. However, the challenge is to keep the users engaged with these apps on an ongoing basis. It turns out "native" app users aren't using the vast majority of the apps they have downloaded onto their phone. In fact, according to a recent Forrester study, 84 percent of their time is spent using just five apps. This dovetails with another recent study from Nielsen spotlighting that there is a ceiling for the number of apps that consumers will consistently use.
So, what can you do to ensure that you're one of the lucky few, favorite branded apps that consumers deploy on a regular, if not daily, basis, able to take advantage of these consumers ravenous for information about, or utility delivered from, your brand? Establish immediate value and functionality to the end user.
Most of the apps that people use frequently are ones that deliver a specific function in an instant. So, how can your brand's app do that? How will it make their lives instantly easier, becoming indispensable in the process?
The best in-app interfaces or executions are incredibly focused, taking advantage of the consumer state of being "all in" when they are there. A strong app is mobile-first with a streamlined design that provides a logical, easy flow and navigation. Essentially, it will deliver a laser-like focus on a primary task and eliminate bells and whistles that may distract. A lot of businesses make the mistake of pretending that their mobile website launchers are apps, but they're not. Native apps offer marketers an environment that can be used to create distinctive, specific experiences for customers.
The app consumer is ready, willing and open to marketing. That's a unique combination. But, for it to work, brands must respect and cater to this special permission. Whether you're delivering the messaging and proposed engagement via ad placements inside the app or using the app itself as a marketing vehicle, everything you do must engage, service and delight -- not annoy or burden -- the audience. The elusive permission slip has been granted. Now it's the brand's responsibility to deliver a continuous, memorable journey.
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