What Makes Mobile Ad Campaigns Work?

Mobile Research

The next three years will see more transformation in marketing than the last 10-15.

- Marc Andreessen, IAB MIXX 2012

We love our mobile devices. Really, really, love them. More than 50 percent of U.S. adults now own a smartphone and nearly 30 percent own tablets. And the connections we’re making with them are intense. Take a recent study that found 53 percent of people check their phones in the morning before showering or even saying "good morning" to their partners. Or the fact that over 26 percent confessed to sleeping with their mobile phones in bed, effectively taking spooning to a whole new level. In another recent study, subjects responded to the sound of their phones as they would the presence of a girlfriend, boyfriend or family member.

Yes, our relationships with our mobile devices are more intimate than ever.

To explore the magnitude of this shift and understand just how much and how consumers rely on their mobile devices, SAY Media and comScore conducted a new in-depth qualitative and quantitative research study that reveals exactly how consumers are really using these devices, and what really works in mobile marketing campaigns. Through a survey of more than 1,200 mobile users, the results show that consumers are increasingly using their mobile phones for media and entertainment, as a personal assistant, as a life coach – and as a shopping companion.

We also analyzed key campaign metrics from more than 100 recent mobile campaigns to better understand what mobile creative elements are most effective at capturing consumers’ attention. Among the findings: Mobile ads drive consumers into the marketing funnel faster, with three to five times higher click-to-site rates than online campaigns, and campaigns that use a device's native features had three times the average click-to-site rate.

Other key findings from the study:

  • Sixty one percent of respondents researched a product on their mobile device before making the decision to buy 
  • Thirty seven percent validated a price at the point of sale. 
  • Nearly half of respondents redeemed an offer using their mobile device 
  • Forty four percent of respondents purchased goods on their mobile device
  • Thirty percent have made a payment through a mobile app such as Square or Levelup 
  • Fifty five percent of 18 to 24-year olds record their exercise activity on their mobile devices – and half of them track day-to-day expenses 
  • Men spend an average of five hours a week watching mobile video - women spend four 
  • One in three smartphone owners get the majority of their news on a mobile device (that jumps to half for 18 to 24-year olds)

And the big surprise:

  • Forty three percent of mobile users are less stressed thanks to how mobile devices improve their work/life balance

More than ever, marketers have the opportunity to develop services that align and extend their brand in a way that provides power and utility to their audiences. But they need to consider consumers’ intimate relationships with their devices. Social sharing, location-based campaigns, and video are all effective ways to communicate with consumers in a way in which they’re already comfortable. And most of all, keep it simple. It’s a small canvas. You don’t want to paint with a wide brush.

What’s the future of mobile? It's the future of everything – and there’s plenty of room for disruptors to break out, adapt and engage consumers in novel new ways. Will it be you?

You can you see more key findings and download the results of our mobile study here.

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