Behind the Numbers: That Rising Feeling

Determining mobile’s measurable lift

Mobile phones are getting all the action these days. Consumers eagerly buy them, bloggers can’t stop talking about them, and advertisers who are savvy enough to spend some dough on the small screen are reaping early rewards. According to research firm Dynamic Logic, advertisers who use mobile phones to peddle their products are enjoying big bumps in brand awareness, especially when compared to online advertising.

In a study of mobile campaigns designed to raise awareness and purchase intent for a range of brands, mobile advertising helped boost a brand’s awareness by about six percentage points compared to only a two-percentage point increase for online display campaigns. The study was conducted across small and large brands and accounts for a mix of existing awareness levels. For brands that are already well known, a six-percentage point boost can be highly impactful, says Ali Rana, vice president of emerging media at Millward Brown’s Dynamic Logic. “Mobile is a deeply personal medium. People are extremely engaged with it and there is not a lot of clutter,” says Rana. “It’s well targeted and all of those things factor into ads performing well on mobile.”

This insight is particularly encouraging, because some advertisers have been wary about testing mobile since it’s so new as an ad venue. As a result, they say they are concerned consumers don’t even know mobile phones can run ads. But the biggest benefit of mobile right now is that the medium isn’t saturated with ads, says Rana. Plus, if mobile ads are targeted, they stand a better chance of breaking through. Brands that have benefited from early and clever investment in mobile ads include Visa, Capital One and Dockers, which earned praise for its “shakeable” iPhone app of a Dockers-clad man who dances on cue.

The medium is also appealing because it’s simple. Ads are usually short, snappy and to the point. They’re appropriate for the short attention span and small screen of the medium.

In fact, mobile is so effective as an ad venue that even the poorly received ads still deliver a lift in brand awareness, adds Rana. While the best ads in the study drove brand awareness and purchase intent by 11 percent and 9 percent respectively, even the bad ads still boosted those metrics by 3 to 4 percent. That compares favorably to online, where bad ads can have a negative impact on brand awareness, says Rana.

Plus, CPMs are still relatively low on mobile, so it’s a good time to invest in the medium, says Rana. “If you are a marketer that has been somewhat hesitant about mobile, do the basic homework on what is your audience, who is the market and what are the expectations so you can be sure it’ll produce a positive impact,” he says. A single call to action works well, as do simple branding messages.

The question remains, though, of whether mobile is just enjoying the new-girl-at-school factor. Sure, the shine might wear off, but the numbers don’t indicate that’s going to happen. Mobile is outperforming the ad effectiveness of both online ads and online video ads in their early days, suggesting its success is due to the medium rather than its newness, Rana explains.

Mobile phone usage will continue to grow rapidly this year. About 42 percent of Americans now own a smartphone, up from 32 percent just a year ago, according to eMarketer.

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