Mobile Is A Meta-Channel -- That's Why It Will Solve Attribution Challenge

If everyone has a mobile device, why is mobile marketing so difficult for marketers?  Why are the companies tasked to deliver mobile marketing opportunities so challenged in the marketplace?  The answer is surprisingly simple, as was recently stated very clearly by a colleague of mine, Jeff Frantz.  Mobile is a “meta-channel,” as he puts it -- exactly the right phrase and one I sincerely wish I had thought of first.

Most digital marketers were caught flat-footed by the rapid rise in consumer use of mobile browsers via smartphones.  Adoption had been projected for years, but actual planning against the mobile audience was limited -- and for good reason.  At the launch of the iPhone, any marketer who was running standard banner ads on the Web could say a portion of their marketing was “mobile,” because they knew a portion of the audience was exposed to their ads through a mobile browser.  Every network and DSP could say they delivered mobile ads because of the same rationale.  Of course, this was only half true, and it overlooked the challenges of cookie tracking and creative development for websites.   While these marketers could say they were “mobile,” they were over-representing themselves dramatically.



Fast-forward to today.  Mobile is a channel, but one that’s woven into almost every other channel.  Mobile connects the digital world to the real world with location-based GPS, iBeacons, QR codes, etc.  Responsive design enables a Web developer to create multiplatform websites and email templates that resize based on the device and viewer being used.  The technology exists to allow creators to create once and content to be delivered everywhere, which is exactly as it should be from an experiential point of view. But marketers are still looking at mobile as an after-thought.

Technology has put make-up over the blemishes that result from marketer’s shortsighted view of mobile.  To succeed in mobile, you have to scrub the strategy to make sure it’s sound and not repurposed from somewhere else.   You have to do the research and figure out how your customers are truly accessing mobile, and once they are there, what are they doing?  Once you know what they’re doing, what can you be doing to deliver them the information they need?

The answer to this is not as easy as it sounds, and I acknowledge that completely.  The answer usually sounds something like this: “My customers are spending time on social, so I should test some native ads on Facebook.  Those cannot be secured through the Facebook Exchange, so I need to work directly with Facebook.  Additionally I should work with a mobile ad platform to get my ads into apps, where my audience is.  Last, I will make sure my emails are designed to be delivered on a mobile device.  Done – my mobile strategy is complete.”

This is not going to cut it.

Mobile’s biggest benefit is understanding the path back and forth from different devices and into the offline world.  Data is at the core of this challenge, and data can provide the solution.  2015 is going to be the year when cross-device mapping becomes commonplace, and marketers will know by matching mobile devices (including location), desktops and other screens what the actual path was for a consumer on her journey.  Data and the analytics of cross-device mapping will provide a truer view into attribution, so my point here is that mobile as a meta-channel becomes the key to unlocking true attribution for marketers.

As a meta-channel, mobile can become one of marketers’ most valuable tools for understanding how their messaging truly works.  It’s meta -- but meta implies a complete view, in my eyes.

Do you see the same challenges when it comes to mobile -- or is there a simpler way to explain the “state of mobile” in 2014?

3 comments about "Mobile Is A Meta-Channel -- That's Why It Will Solve Attribution Challenge".
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  1. Christopher Brya from Solavista, August 13, 2014 at 6 p.m.

    Cory, what a great article. Very well said. The mobile as meta channel is going to be a challenge for brands for sure, but it's a choice for marketers: get on top of this now, or have it stay on top of you for a long while. I think that the state of mobile for many marketers and brand leaders is still "wait and see" or dabble at best. The issue that we see is that not having (or lack of a strategy) isn't a strategy any longer. Time to jump in and swim. Even if the strokes aren't pretty.

  2. Seth Baum from, August 13, 2014 at 9:49 p.m.

    Solid points Cory. I think another driver will be mobile video advertising versus mobile banners in apps etc - it's a quantum leap in the marketing experience for users and clearly both Facebook and Twitter are going to drive that movement somewhat "organically" due to their efforts and their huge reach.

  3. Ari Bancale from Cyburban, August 15, 2014 at 8:13 p.m.

    Meta-channel, just the right term for mobile. We need to provide the context for the entire mobile experience. Either we find it or produce it, better if we do a little bit of both and curate the context and the content.

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