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Mobile Surveys and Monitoring

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Edward Kershaw

Edward Kershaw

Edward is responsible for growing Nielsen's mobile business in Europe. He joined Nielsen from Nokia where he was Director of Mobile Media Experiences within Nokia's Mobile Phones Business Group.

Read the full biography here

Mobile Advertising Makes a Move
They're engaging, they're context sensitive and they're taking off

By Edward Kershaw - 21st January 2010

Last year I predicted that 2011 could be the year we finally stopped asking ‘when will be the year of mobile?’ Although the question doesn’t really mean much, it gets debated regularly. I wonder if my prediction will come true.


It’s beyond doubt that we are using mobile phones much more, and in different ways, compared to just a couple of years ago. Mobile internet browsing has increased thanks to the familiar drivers of better handsets, faster connectivity, clearer data tariffs and more engaging services to look at. Thanks initially to Apple, but with increasing credit to phones carrying Google’s Android software, the concept of mobile apps is now widely understood and adopted by consumers. In fact, Android phones (which of course are made by a wide variety of handset manufacturers) are now out-selling iPhones in the US and elsewhere. In Q3 2010 we published data that phone buyers were telling us that Android had achieved an almost equal desirability to Apple’s iPhone, and that indicator was borne out in our most recent survey (Jan 2011) that shows that among US consumers who bought their smartphones within the last 6 months, 41% bought Android versus 27% iPhone. You can expect many more stories about ‘OS Wars’ over the coming months as Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7, Blackberry, Nokia and the rest fight it out in the smartphone marketplace. In 2011, it’s going to be harder and harder to buy a phone that isn’t a smartphone.

Taking a step back, the word ‘app’ doesn’t really do justice to the explosion of creativity by developers and brands. The daily time-filling little games that we’ve been playing for years on our phones have been transformed by phone features such as touch screens, accelerometers and compasses. But we’ve also seen the growth of some truly remarkable and innovative new concepts that are unique to mobile, many of which rely on location to add a social flavour and to encourage regular engagement. Whether I’m broadcasting to my friends that I’ve bought another cup of coffee, or am being chased through the streets of Covent Garden by virtual zombies on my way to buying a sandwich, this really is new consumer behaviour.

So what does this mean for mobile advertising? The rapid increase in mobile web browsing is driving mobile banner advertising growth too, along with mobile display advertising appearing on a huge number of apps. Apple’s new iAd format takes the good old fashioned banner ad and turns it into a mini app itself, making interaction with these ads more engaging and, ultimately, more effective. A recent Nielsen report has shown that iPad owners, for instance, tell us they are almost twice as likely to click on simple text ads (40% versus 25%, from a survey in the US, where iAd has been launched), and 49% of them are interested to engage with advertising which includes video on their iPads.


The opportunities presented by location-based mobile apps – whether it’s Google Maps, or one of the many location-based social networking services that are built around it such as FourSquare or Layar – are giving advertisers and agencies new channels to consider. And I believe, along with many others, that mobile search is much more related to the ‘now’, to our immediate needs. If I’m searching on my mobile phone for car tyres, the chance is that I’ve had a puncture in my car, rather than doing some research on which tyre brand is right for me ... The same goes for restaurants, cinemas and the like.

Although Blyk is no longer active in the UK, the concept of delivering targeted advertising via SMS or MMS to consumers who have opted in is more active than ever. Mobile phone companies (notably O2 in the UK) are building their teams and technical capabilities to offer advertisers a new way to engage with their consumers in increasingly sophisticated ways, including offering you relevant offers based on your location.

So, surely this means that mobile advertising has got all the elements in place? Will the advertising spend start to flow at the rate that has been predicted for years? Well, in 2011, it’s possible that the old wariness due to a lack of robust audience metrics may be replaced by a new wariness: this time, the concern could be which mobile advertising medium to choose, and how those decisions can be backed up by robust effectiveness metrics. Does a brand focus on mobile search, or build a cool mobile app for iPhone owners, or concentrate all their efforts on building a mobile website accessible by all? Or all three? In the rush to develop these new and exciting channels for advertising, publishers (by which I mean anyone with inventory, including the mobile operators themselves) should be building in systems to monitor their performance. The right way to reduce the complexity is for mobile publishers to be able to offer to clients information on the relative strengths of each channel, backed up with robust data drawn from interaction with consumers themselves. Advertisers deserve to know whether mobile search converts into real-world sales; to know the response rate they can expect from an SMS campaign for healthcare products targeted at women; and whether consumers even noticed their banner ad, let alone clicked through to it.

Conversations with advertisers and agencies indicate that the same rules will apply to mobile as to any medium: they need to understand where to find their audience efficiently, and have the data available post-campaign to judge how the audience was affected. Armed with these two key measures – audience measurement and campaign effectiveness – brands and agencies can start to make sensible comparisons between media and mobile can take its rightful place with the marketing mix.

One thing’s certain: 2011 will be another fascinating year for mobile marketing.

Edward Kershaw

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