Unraveling the Mysteries of Mobile Marketing


Mobile consumers exercise tremendous where-and-when control over their buying decisions. Marketers must be at the ready to respond to these savvy consumers’ mobile interactions. Powering marketers’ overtures are fresh mobile-marketing technologies and software, but that doesn’t mean mobile marketing is as easy as a swipe and a tap. Marketers are still grappling with new strategies for the m-commerce landscape. Although the essential components of successful cross-channel marketing strategies haven’t changed, today’s digital marketers now have to blend these more exacting mobile approaches into the mix.

Direct Marketing News Editor-in-Chief Ginger Conlon and Chuck Moxley, CMO of mobile technology company 4INFO, co-hosted an editorial roundtable on mobile’s best and most challenging aspects for marketers. Highlights of the conversation included mobile attribution and targeting; how to connect agencies’ and brands’ differing perspectives regarding what data to collect and measure; how to integrate mobile into the multichannel mix; and what role mobile should play in marketers’ media spend. —Alison Lowander

Ginger Conlon, Direct Marketing News: Welcome to our mobile advertising roundtable. My co-host for the session is Chuck Moxley, CMO at 4INFO. Please introduce yourselves and cite how your company is using mobile—if you’re an agency or vendor, briefly describe how you help clients use mobile advertising.

Chuck Moxley (4INFO): Hello everyone. 4INFO is an ad-tech platform that allows for precise audience targeting and for measuring the effectiveness of mobile campaigns based on actual in-store sales. The key is how you link mobile devices to people. We use a highly accurate, deterministic method that doesn’t rely on IP address. The match key is the home address. We’ve made more than 95% of all mobile users fully addressable and measurable.

Debbie Wogan (Catalina Marketing): I’m Debbie Wogan, VP of digital ad sales at Catalina. Our product, BuyerVision, helps activate mobile campaigns using sharper insights garnered from shopper data that we receive from our 80-plus retail partners. We identify past-purchase consumer behaviors and reach consumers on their mobile devices with specific, personalized messages based on buying behavior. Then we close the loop and measure return on ad spend. 

Wyatt Manor (Kantar Shopcom): Hi, Wyatt Manor, VP of partner solutions with Kantar Shopcom. Shopcom works with partners to empower their own solutions with our consumer purchase and media data. These include buyer portraits and consumer profile reports for marketing insights, as well as consumer purchase-based audience targets. We also offer advertising effectiveness for all types of media and work with media companies, advertisers, and agencies to bring everyone to the table to better understand the data and measurement framework so that everyone can be successful.

Warren Zenna (Mobext): I’m Warren Zenna, EVP and U.S. managing director for Mobext. Our group provides all of the mobile expertise—strategic insights and directional recommendations, planning, and implementation—for Havas Media clients looking to leverage the mobile channel to drive audience acquisition, segmentation, and impact. We specifically identify and evaluate all of the existing mobile ad tech platforms and partners in the marketplace to determine who can best deliver on the client objectives. We bundle together the right solutions and figure out the best mobile strategies for our clients. It’s core to our business right now.

Jennifer Greufe (Target Health/Kinetic Worldwide): I’m Jennifer Greufe, director of Target Health. We work in the CPG, OTC, and DTC spaces. Most of our clients come from the pharma side. We’re helping our clients connect from the point of prescription to the point of sale. And we’re helping them track that with direct marketing. 

Michael Darviche (Bridge22): Michael Darviche. I run a boutique consulting firm called Bridge22, driving marketing transformation via CMO services for boards, CEOs, CMOs of big brands, data companies, and ad tech. We think aggressively about data from mobile, commerce, digital media, and local, and work with general managers to figure out how to use this terrific asset to build new mobile media and consumer engagement businesses.

Josh Herman (Acxiom): I’m Josh Herman, director of partner and product strategy at Acxiom. We help clients have a consistent data framework branding campaigns. You can safely connect data and then make it actionable, transforming it for target marketing. It’s a wonderful moment in the industry: We have a convergence of the CIO, the CMO, the brand marketers, and the target marketers, all beginning to work together.

Carole Diarra (L’Oréal): Hi, my name is Carole Diarra. I’m VP of marketing at L’Oréal. I’m working on a special project with the active cosmetics division, specifically on a retailer strategy as Walgreen’s continues to expand its prestige beauty in the in-store environment. Our company is a mobile virgin and we’re at the tipping point of understanding how we can implement our marketing mix to wider platforms to reach our consumer.


DMN: What will get your mobile strategy to the next level and what are some of the barriers to doing so?

Diarra: Thinking fundamentally about how to change your business and then actually doing it is a challenge. We’re trying to figure out the best intersection of product consideration. We grew up in the industry doing things a certain way—heavy on television, heavy on the traditional media mix—and things change. 

Darviche: In mobile marketing there are so many new data pieces. It comes back to blending them all—around consumer movements and mind-sets—and finding patterns that fit just that particular product. It’s partly solved by testing-and-marketing engagements, and partly by using new data, channels, and tools. CMOs struggle with it because it’s new, and we’re still talking perhaps 35 or 50% of the media budget being off. It’s both a big opportunity for new revenues, and it’s embarrassing if it’s not working. 

Zenna: And there’s also opportunity because mobile is the first media that’s really an extension of yourself, and it’s the first form of media that contextually interacts with other media. Data companies are very excited—it allows you to figure more out about the consumer than ever before.

Wogan: Plus, when you look at adding a layer of addressability to mobile, you see such strong sales for purchase-based media targeting versus behavioral or demographic targeting. It’s all making sure that there is zero media waste. 

Herman: We should be thinking about mobile operating in its own little channel vacuum, how it works in concert with the whole mix, and to what extent should it lead, dominate, or complement the rest of the media spend. That might be the bridge to show the relationship of spend on TV and mobile. So, it’s putting mobile in the context of the other media. 

Zenna: That’s a great point. Mobext was built like a channel entity within a group of other disciplines. You could ask, “Is social a channel?” I think that the channelization of these disciplines is an old model. Today it’s evolved to the point that mobile expertise, knowledge, and awareness needs to be applied across everything. 

DMN: What are other challenges and opportunities?

Darviche: The elephant in the room is that the devices are still too small for good advertising to work. It’s going to get better because phones are getting bigger. But I don’t think we can say mobile is simply another “channel” as, say, display ads are. Mobile has many unique features: geolocation; apps; transactions providing actual sales data; video content watched; and wallets implying loyalties and volumes of preferences. The mobile device is really a whole new environment—a combination of dynamic content, an experience, and a place to be—that allows Carole, for example, to get in better touch with L’Oréal’s consumers and to reinforce what L’Oréal is.

Diarra: I completely agree. If mobile really is an extension of you, a television spot can’t beat you over the head every 30 seconds. We want to create a real emotional connection to be relevant in the next 10 to 20 years. We have to treat mobile as something that’s precious to you, so that we interact with you in a different way. It goes to content and creativity—what’s at the brand level that I want to interact with in this device, whether it expands or not. 

Wogan: Banner advertising does work in mobile, we’ve proven it. We’ve measured 87 mobile banner campaigns, and for every dollar we’re driving a $2.60 return on ad spend. Our clients are re-spending, re-upping, and they’re also experimenting with dynamic creative and sequential messaging, where they can really tell better stories.

Greufe: Even with the loads of data currently available, we don’t have audience segmentation that says how various segments of our consumers are using their phones. Which subsets are using mobile for shopping? Not research, but purchasing? We know these subsets exist, but we don’t know where they are and we don’t know what percentages are using them for X, Y, and Z. So, it’s a lot of testing, learning, trialing, failing, and improving—optimizing the next time around.

Moxley: People are learning—the hard way—to articulate the campaign test-design hypothesis on the front end. A lot of experimentation took place in mobile where they’re just happy to say they did something. But they lose track of what it was besides getting a mobile campaign out the door. We’re now being really rigid.

Greufe: I agree, and another challenge for us is that we’re asking consumers to do something, to take an action—and whether that action is meaningful in terms of learning of the brand is up to recipients to decide.

Zenna: In my agency-role purview, I’d like to get to a point where we think of ourselves as problem solvers. It’s a cultural shift that needs to occur across all agencies. We understand marketing, know how to work in the marketplace, and know how to use the data we get to make decisions quickly on behalf of our clients.


DMN: Do clients need to be more open or to experiment more? 

Zenna: I’d like them to understand that their business is changing and that they need to devote more time to thinking about how to transform the way that they interact with their customers and other businesses. It’s going to happen, either by choice or through fiat, because the world is going to make them do it whether they like it or not.

Moxley: We’re trying to get marketers to understand that location is an essential element of mobile, and that where and when is great data to inform relevance and context. We’re so early in the mobile market—everybody’s trying to figure it out. We were the first to bring out benchmarks, based on 83 campaigns for 59 brands. We saw an average return on ad spend of 257%, or $2.57 in incremental sales from the test group as compared to the control group for those exposed to mobile ads across the board for every dollar that they spent on media. So we know it’s working.

DMN: What data do you need to do mobile advertising well? Are there data points you just don’t care about? 

Manor: Everyone thinks mobile is complicated. There is a significant opportunity because of mobile’s complexity. The consumer can decide what they need or what they want all from a portable device that they carry with them all the time. For example, enabling mobile to understand that I’m in a movie theater and I’m seeing an ad—that’s a benefit, because understanding location is unique to mobile. It’s an opportunity to create content to interact with, as well as send timely, targeted advertising. The same targeting data can be used across mobile, display advertising, and addressable TV—the targeting data is not unique, the media is.

Wogan: For Catalina the Holy Grail is location data, which lets us associate a device with a home address. When we have the home address, we can tie a device to a frequent-shopper card and message that household based on their buying behavior. We also use location data to identify households within a three- to five-mile radius of a retailer and leverage this data to drive in-store sales lift.

Zenna: Where and when. Nothing does it better. If you cross those two things over each other, a brand can derive a great deal of information about what took place. But the location question is weird because there are beacons and Wi-Fi systems; the reliability of the location data is still suspect in some respects.

Greufe: At the end of the day it’s all about the sale. All we’re trying to do with location data is use that as the touchpoint to marry everything back, to figure out if this person watched this show and were they also exposed to this message? We have two ways to look at this: as a message-delivery channel and as a point-of-diagnosis with telemedicine. It could be point-of-sale.

DMN: So, you’re looking for specific targeting data and to understand behaviors better so that you can take other actions? 

Greufe: Getting the behaviors consumers are taking is important. We have to understand as marketers how we fit in, how we can help move people forward in those behaviors.

Manor: The unique thing about mobile and digital is that the consumer is becoming a media channel. People who have videos on YouTube have quit their jobs and show people how to put on makeup or paint a room or fix a car. That’s also a paradigm shift for advertisers and brands—if they can find the right consumer to carry the message for them, that consumer can carry a lot of weight.

Diarra: I think people always were message-carriers but now they have a platform. Now technology allows word-of-mouth marketing to happen quicker. You can have influence in circles all around the globe if you want to because you’re empowered. And so the technology enables you to be your own marketer.

Greufe: Marketers are picking up on those trends. They’re reaching out to bloggers and to these key opinion leaders, the ones who are naming the brands. And it’s a two-way street. The individuals who cite the brand in their content know that they’re going to continue to get product samples. It’s going to allow them to continue to do what they’re doing.


DMN: Chuck, how does mobile data fit in, especially with things like location?

Moxley: We see location being used best when it’s in context and is relevant. Don’t give consumers a video if they’re in the store with their kids. They’re not going to watch. But when they’re at home at night researching a purchase it’s a great time to serve up competitive information, videos, etc. So, ask what the context and relevance are at that moment.

DMN: Are your clients successfully connecting in-store sales or sales in another channel from a mobile interaction?

Wogan: We’ve been measuring in-store sales for about two-and-a-half years. We can show our clients what creative drove the most in-store sales lift. [And] our inflight-optimization tool measures the elements of a campaign driving incremental conversions. 

Zenna: We’re able to track where someone’s been and when we measure against all those different data points, we can see what that most recent action was and how it was informed by previous actions.

Manor: Mobile is just like any other media–it allows for a consumer to see an advertising message. When Shopcom creates advertising effectiveness measurement, the advertising exposure can be from a cable set-top box provider, from a magazine, from digital, from mobile, or from all of them in the form of cross-media. What’s different is keying in on what’s unique about the media. Each different media type can provide different insights; for example, location from mobile, daypart from addressable TV, and so on. Our partners have successfully taken media and advertising exposure, including from mobile advertising campaigns, and created in-store sales lift insights that help improve future campaigns.

Herman: Now we’re seeing data connectivity off these platforms that makes it possible to do media-mix optimization from a bottom-up approach. These tools should give us superior, relevant consumer experience through the channel with the appropriate content that’s most helpful to the consumer.

DMN: Chuck, what are some measurements to look at now?

Moxley: We’re measuring the return on ad spend based on sales, putting out benchmarks, and starting to get marketers in. Two years ago we were the lone voice but now brands realize they’ve got to account for the media spend.

We’re going to get smarter and ask better questions, agencies are going to think more holistically, and two years in it’s all going to be different—so keep asking questions, keep searching.

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