Finding the Bull's Eye

Targeting issues hindering mobile ad investments

As the head of an ad agency, I am often the front-line sounding board for our clients’ questions and concerns regarding new digital technology, new channels and new media tactics. The reality is, the fragmentation of the digital landscape is daunting and, believe me, there are many days I am thankful not to be in our media department.

Recently, a media report showing the national average time spent with media versus each medium’s ad spend allocation was brought to my attention. Mobile stands out like a sore thumb, as ad investments are nowhere near its usage level.

Mobile marketing considerations abound these days, as time spent with mobile per day (2:51) has surpassed time spent on desktop and tablets per day, combined (2:12). Mobile alone is driving an overall increase in the time we spend with media each day. And while we’re talking stats, we are now spending an average of 21 minutes per day on Facebook (eMarketer, September 2014).

Let that sink in for a moment.

These statistics are very enticing to advertisers, but is the instinct to push more ad dollars to mobile and Facebook correct for your business? Why are advertisers not heavily investing in mobile now?

To understand the disparity, several aspects of mobile must be considered. First, retailers comprise the majority of mobile advertisers this spending data represents (eMarketer, March 2015). This category of advertisers solidly relies on digital media, as consumers can stay within platform, are advertised to and complete purchases. A true marketing attribution. The holy grail of advertising.

But like every medium, mobile has its strengths and weaknesses. Clearly, its strength is time spent with the device. We can’t put it down. Its weaknesses are a little more complicated.

Rarely does a first ad impression result in a purchase conversion. In fact, 70 percent of users are more likely to convert from a retargeted ad, and 40 percent of ecommerce transactions occur through multiple devices. (Criteo, Q2, 2015.)

Retargeting is one of digital media’s greatest strengths. However, retargeting across devices is an issue, as this tactic still relies heavily on cookies. The attribution (or trackability) is not as clear with mobile, as cookies don’t always cross devices.

Additionally, mobile targeting capabilities are limited compared to desktop and social channels. And the ad units are, well, tiny.

For advertisers, the mobile work-around could exist within social channels. Channels such as Facebook and Twitter have tons of personal and consumer data for targeting audiences. Their ad units are larger and they are device-agnostic, making retargeting seamless and attribution pure.

All of this to say, there are many intricacies to digital platforms and channels, and they can all affect media advertising investments. My advice to our clients is this:

 • Stay on strategy. Don’t let other category advertisers alter your media assessments. Their marketing strategies are most likely very different than yours.

• Within your marketing strategy, define your campaign’s key performance indicators. Knowing mobile’s weaknesses, does it still fit within your media goals? If exposure or awareness are goals, then the answer is yes.

• Think of mobile creative like outdoor: short and to the point. Then, drive that mobile traffic to a landing page that tells your advertising story in more detail.

• One of mobile’s best targeting capabilities is location-based advertising. If this tactic aligns with your marketing strategy and media goals, incorporate it into your campaigns.

• Remember, there is still a portion of older adults that do not have smart phones. Consider the breakout of your demographic target audience when investing.

• If retargeting is an important tactic in achieving your strategic goals, look to social channels, but remember the demographic makeup of these audiences varies greatly channel to channel. The tactics they offer may be exciting, but if the channel doesn’t reach your target audience, it’s wasted ad dollars. Stay on strategy.

• If staffing allows, designate one person to stay abreast of digital changes and inform others. To consider new channels and tactics, media plans and schedules should be implemented monthly. Discuss this with your agency as well.

Mobile’s U.S. saturation point is near, as almost everyone who wants a smart phone has one. Its maturity will mostly likely follow. Revisit your annual marketing strategies and media plans throughout the year, and don’t get caught up in following the crowd.

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Rich Sullivan is CEO of Red Square Gaming, a full-service advertising agency that focuses on casino brands. Follow him @redsquaregamers or email him at rich@redsquaregaming.com.

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