Effective Consumer Engagement On Mobile

According to a new study by MillwardBrown, Getting Mobile Right, US marketers are projected to invest a total of $19.8 billion in mobile marketing in 2015, but many are still struggling with the optimal approach.

The report responds to three major questions that marketers are asking to better understand how mobile can propel their brand and not become a vulnerable blindspot: 

  • Where and how can marketers reach consumers on mobile
  • How can marketers engage consumers with mobile advertising
  • How can marketers increase their share of mobile consumer activity

Mobile has changed the media landscape but many brands are not adapting their marketing plans fast enough to take advantage of these changes, says the report. Multiscreen audiences in the US consume an average of 147 minutes of TV per day, compared to 151 minutes of Smartphone time and 43 minutes on Tablets. Typical usages are described as follows:

  • Smartphones are used as the “do-it-all” device for connecting through social media, texting, email, etc. Of all devices, it is the one that consumers use consistently throughout the day.
  • Tablets are used most often as an entertainment tool, specifically while on-the-go. They are used for activities such as social, email, video, or alternative content while watching TV, mostly in the evenings.
  • TV is used for entertainment and background noise while performing other tasks. Because of this, TV continues to be used largely after the workday ends.
  • Finally, laptops are used for productivity, specifically for working, searching, or shopping online when something needs to be done quickly, or when several things need to be done at once, and are most often used during the workday.

Consumers on average consume 444 minutes of content in a 314 minute period “multiscreening.” Of the 194 minutes that consumers spend using smartphones and tablets, 47% of that time is spent simultaneously with TV. The remaining 53% is spent using each device separately.

The report opines that to achieve success in the multiscreen world and make the most of each device, brands need to be consistent across screens and deliver a cohesive message. Understanding where and how consumers use mobile is critical for successful engagement.

Location is quickly becoming the most important factor in mobile advertising. The majority of consumers use mobile to shop at home, and nearly one-third of consumers perform shopping-related activities on their mobile devices while in a store.

Shopping Location On Mobile


% of Respondents

At home




At work


Traveling/ out of town


At a friend’s house


Dining out






Source: MillwardBrown Digital, September 2014

With nearly three-quarters of adults aged 18-44 accessing a social network daily, and smartphones being the most-used device to access them, leveraging social media will continue to be an important part of consumer engagement, says the report.

Reasons For Accessing Social Networking Sites While In Store

Access Reason

% of Respondents







Peer feedback


Source: MillwardBrown Digital, September 2014

The majority of consumers use both apps and browsers when mobile shopping. Additionally, 72% of consumers who use shopping apps have fewer than five of them installed on their phones. Apps, mobile websites, and mobile search strategies need to work seamlessly for a best-in-class mobile user experience, says the report.

Using Apps Or Browsers To Shop (% of Respondents)







Source: MillwardBrown Digital, September 2014

Mobile has proven to be a more effective advertising channel with the average mobile campaign two to four times more effective than desktop based online media campaigns, impacting metrics such as brand awareness, brand favorability and purchase intent.

Improved Ad Effectiveness of Mobile on Awareness, Brand Favorability and Purchase Intent




Aided brand awareness



Ad awareness



Message association



Brand favorability



Purchase intent



Source: MillwardBrown Digital, September 2014

Developing creative that resonates with target consumers is tricky in mobile due to the small space and personal nature of the platform, says the report. The study uncovered five foundations to effective interactive mobile video advertising, suggesting that, as mobile advertising consumes a greater percentage of the advertising budget, the stakes become even higher to demonstrate ROI.

  • Intrigue consumers by starting a story but not telling the whole story
  • Combine mobile video with an interactive layer to bring branded content to viewers rather than pushing them away with “tap-out” features
  • Develop simple and clear messages that cascade cleanly from the mobile video into an interactive layer with further information
  • Don’t adjust content just because the screen is smaller, but build on the connection consumers already have with their mobile devices and aim for a strong emotional response
  • Remember likely viewing scenarios (both in the living room and also on-the-go) when deciding on creative and targeting

Concluding, the report says that the struggle for marketers isn’t deciding whether they should invest in mobile marketing or not; it’s understanding how to utilize mobile’s strengths as a marketing platform to best support their brands.

The three main questions that marketers face in dealing with this, according to the report, are where marketers can reach consumers on mobile devices, how marketers can engage consumers with mobile advertising, and how they can increase their share of mobile consumer activity versus their competitors.

  • Understand which touchpoints consumers engage with the most on mobile devices (such as social media, apps, search, etc.) in order to reach them in the most cost-effective and impactful way
  • Regarding mobile advertising, the synergy between clear creative and effective media placement is key to engaging consumers
  • And, marketers need to continuously benchmark their brand’s mobile performance against competitors to grow their share of mobile engagement

For more from Millward Brown and access to the PDF complete report, please visit here.


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