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The Time of a Mobile Ad's Life, Part 1

The Time of a Mobile Ad's Life, Part 1

For optimal effectiveness, ads must meet consumers' eyes when the time is right -- but it's getting trickier and trickier to make that determination in an increasingly social, mobile world. Coming to marketers' aid are a wealth of sophisticated analytics tools that can provide insights into not only which ads might appeal to customers the most, but also when to send them.

There is a long-standing debate in the email marketing community about timing -- that is, whether time of day makes a difference in open and click-through rates. In other words, will an email marketing message sent early Monday morning be more likely to be opened than one sent Wednesday around noon or one delivered late on a Friday afternoon in July?

There are reasoned arguments to be made on all sides of this debate, and now it has spilled over into social media. When is the best time to send that tweet or make that Facebook post? Mobile advertising brings even more considerations into the mix.

The Tablet Lesson

The relatively recent advent of tablets has crystallized how important the timing issue is for ad delivery. There is a well-documented spike in tablet usage in the evening, noted Carla Paschke, director of mobile innovation at Engauge.

"Consumers are also more receptive to advertising on tablets than phones, revealing a key opportunity to target tablet advertisements within evening hours when device usage is at its highest to maximize click-through," she told CRM Buyer.

"This becomes even more powerful when considering the context within which many people are accessing their tablet devices in evening hours -- in front of the television," noted Paschke. "Brands and agencies must consider this second screen behavior during media planning to amplify effectiveness."

The use of tablets is a rapidly emerging trend that became manifest over the holiday shopping season of 2012, she noted. However, there are other trends driving consumer behavior that may be more subtle but are equally important to mobile marketers.

Mobile Advertising Rules of the Road

1. Consider the way consumers use their devices.

"Mobile ads need to appear at the right time within the app experience," Bill Clifford, chief revenue officer and cofounder of SessionM, told CRM Buyer. "Ads that are seamlessly integrated into app content, working in sync with the natural flow of a user's experience, resonate best." For example, an ad that leverages game dynamics is best displayed between levels of a mobile game.

2. Know where your audience is located.

Geolocation must be included in the mix, said Philippa Gamse, author of 42 Rules for a Web Presence That Wins.

"The whole point of a mobile phone is that people move around with them, so if you send a promotion for breakfast items at 7:30 a.m. Eastern to a mobile with a New York number -- but the recipient is actually in San Francisco where it's 4:30 a.m. -- the recipient is either going to miss it or be thoroughly annoyed to be woken up," she told CRM Buyer.

"Clearly, the more targeted and granular your campaign, the better chance of success," said Gamse.

3. Don't Make Assumptions.

Users consume mobile content differently on mobile devices -- and not all mobile devices are created equal, noted Warren Zenna, managing director for digital/mobile at Woods Witt Dealy & Sons.

"Brands need to leverage the analytics data from whatever networks they use to determine click-through rates and learn what times work best," he told CRM Buyer.

"We are seeing that many advertisers make a lot of assumptions and then are surprised at the data," Zenna continued. "Don't make assumptions. Deploy in intervals and do multivariate testing on ad creatives to see which recipes work. These are the same principles we have learned from our desktop delivery days."

Analyze This

Certainly research into demographics is essential, Heather Sears, VP of marketing at Sense Networks, told CRM Buyer.

"What marketers need to understand is that effective mobile ads should be based on each consumer's unique lifestyle," she emphasized.

"By analyzing both behavioral attributes and location data, marketers can understand when a consumer is likely to be receptive to receiving an ad," said Sears, and then "serve ads to increase CTRs and overall effectiveness."

The Time of a Mobile Ad's Life, Part 2


Erika Morphy has been writing about technology, finance and business issues for more than 20 years. She lives in Silver Spring, Md.


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