During a Spotlight presentation at the iMedia Agency Summit in Bonita Springs, Florida, Sarah Ohle, director of marketing intelligence at xAd, discussed moving beyond the click to design mobile campaigns that boost offline foot traffic and conversions.
Ohle began by sharing the cold hard facts about mobile vs. desktop usage for media consumption. Between 2010 and 2013, percentage of mobile usage increased from only 3.7 percent to 19.1 percent. In 2014, it's no surprise that mobile surpassed desktop usage and now represents nearly a quarter of time spent with media per day. As a path to purchase vehicle, however, mobile is quite unique from desktop, and as most purchases are still made offline, it's important to understand how to leverage mobile appropriately to drive consumers to brick-and-mortar locations.
To better understand the best way to measure success in mobile and design campaigns to optimize toward this success, xAd commissioned Nielsen to run its "Mobile Ad Measurement Study" (the latest whitepaper available here). This research highlights the limitations of relying on click-through rate (CTR) as a dependable metric for mobile path to purchase. xAd executed nearly 80 individual campaigns with 14 brands to find a more reliable way to drive offline traffic, a key component to mobile success.
xAd began by identifying the following issues with CTR as a reliable mobile metric:
- Clicks do not effectively measure secondary actions and engagement.
- Downstream activities like store visits leading to purchase are completely missed.
- CTRs are easily inflated by accidental clicks. (xAd's past research found that 40 percent of respondents had clicked accidentally in the past 30 days.)
Given these limitations, xAd wanted to better understand mobile metrics, including activity that happens after the initial click, and to help clients design campaigns that leverage geo-targeting and creative messaging to significantly increase offline sales. Key measurement metrics included SAR (activity that happens post-initial click) and SVL (store visit lift, measured by percent change to baseline brick-and-mortar visitation after exposure to the xAd campaign). The company conducted its research in retail, restaurant, and auto verticals.
xAd found that optimizing ads to increase CTR, which favors quantity over quality, often negatively impacted engaged actions like calls, directions, and store visits. However, optimizing for SAR, while decreasing number of clicks, significantly increased store visit lift by 147 percent.
xAd leveraged the right creative and messaging to drive foot traffic by customizing calls to action and using geo-targeting to create ads that seamlessly influenced consumers based on mobile-first research, capitalizing on behavior that already exists. For example, while they found that "find a store" is not a compelling call to action on its own for retail, adding location information (e.g., "nearest store 2.2 miles away") more than doubled visits to the store. However, for auto, it's important to understand that consumers will travel further and conduct more purchase research in advance of visiting a brick-and-mortar location, so a "learn more" call to action proved more effective.
Ohle closed the session by providing the following key takeaways:
1. Mobile is different; we can't just see it as an extension of desktop.
2. Advertisers should properly identify and optimize for mobile-first metrics.
3. Expectations must differ by vertical.
4. Targeting and messaging do influence consumer behavior on the path to purchase.
5. Consumer needs should lead campaign design.