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Joy Liuzzo

Joy Liuzzo

Joy Liuzzo is Director of Marketing & Mobile Research at InsightExpress, a leading provider of high-quality, digital marketing research and advertising effectiveness solutions.

Read the full biography here

Mobile Advertising Effectiveness - a primer

By Joy Liuzzo - 22nd April '10

In the midst of brainstorming topics for this article, I mentioned to my colleague that I wanted to share some great findings around mobile advertising effectiveness. She asked me to take a moment to help her understand how we actually measure the effectiveness of mobile advertising. I realized during that conversation with her and later after asking other colleagues and friends, that there is confusion among researchers as to what mobile advertising effectiveness really is and what it actually means to advertisers.

Let’s start with the obvious and define exactly what we mean by advertising effectiveness in this context. We all know that advertising tries to influence consumers to take a specific action. With the exception of direct response, being exposed to advertising does not always result in immediate and measurable actions. Rather, it becomes a part of consumer perceptions toward the product. If the advertising is working, eventually these shifts in perceptions will coalesce at the right place and right time to trigger a product purchase. Advertising has both short and long term effects so it can be short sighted to judge the success of advertising on just the end outcome of a purchase; therefore advertising effectiveness evaluates shifts in consumer perceptions to help measure success. One methodology in particular is brand impact research.

The methodology developed for measuring online advertising effectiveness has been modified to work within the mobile advertising space. The heart of the methodology rests in experimental design, comparing two groups: the Control group which consists of a sampling of consumers that have not been exposed to the advertising, and the Exposed group which consists of a sampling of consumers that have been exposed to the advertising. Since both groups are recruited from the same media properties, the theory is that the only difference between them will be exposure (or non exposure) to the advertising. Therefore any attitudinal or perceptional differences between them can be attributed to the influence of advertising.

No matter how cutting edge the creative, no matter how targeted the campaign, if the advertising doesn’t make people more aware of your product or make them more likely to consider it or take a specific action, the campaign can’t be deemed successful. Whether you fall into the purchase funnel camp (awareness, message association, favorability, and intent) or the purchase cycle camp (awareness, information search, alternative evaluation, purchase decision, post-purchase behavior), we can all agree that there is an iterative effect of advertising. With this in mind, advertising effectiveness measures six key metrics based on the purchase funnel/cycle.

Now that we know the reasoning behind the metrics asked, the methodology is a piece of cake.

The first thing we measure is awareness. Since this metric is the foundation of any purchase, we measure three elements - top of mind awareness (unaided), prompted recall (aided), and prompted recall of advertising (ad awareness). If consumers are no more likely to recall your product, the advertising did not do the job. The next metric focuses on consumers’ ability to relate the advertising message to the specific product (message association). Messages in advertising act as differentiators and it’s critical that the correct message is being associated with the correct product. The fifth metric, brand favorability, looks to understand if the advertising made people feel more favorable towards the product. The more favorable consumers are towards a product, the more likely they are to purchase the product. The final metric is potentially the most difficult to influence since it’s dealing with the most concrete behaviors, purchasing products. Since this is the largest hurdle to overcome, it’s not surprising that this metric is the most difficult to move.

Now that we know the reasoning behind the metrics asked, the methodology is a piece of cake. Through a survey taken on their mobile device, consumers in both the Control and Exposed groups answer the same series of questions. The end result is a percentage of consumers in the Control group and Exposed group that can be classified as being aware of the product (top of mind and prompted), able to recall seeing the advertisement, able to relate the advertising message to the product, have a favorable opinion towards the product, and their intent to purchase the product – the six metrics of advertising effectiveness.

Since the goal is to isolate the impact of the advertising, for each metric we examine the difference between the percentage of consumers in the Exposed group and the percentage of consumers in the Control group (Exposed minus Control). This delta, the difference between the Exposed group and the Control group, is run through a statistical test to determine if it is indeed a significant difference. We’re then able to determine the effectiveness of the advertising by looking at the metrics that had significant increases in the deltas.

As I mentioned earlier, the methodology used to measure mobile advertising effectiveness is similar to the one employed to measure online advertising effectiveness. This provides a rare opportunity to benchmark mobile advertising to the more established online medium.

Mobile has garnered attention for a number of reasons over the years, starting with the acutely personal nature of the device – no one shares a mobile phone, everyone has their own – which is unlike computers or any other medium. As the device and platform evolved, mobile advertising became more refined and presented a unique medium for advertisers for three reasons:

  1. Lack of clutter on the device
  2. Ads are proportionally larger on the screen
  3. Engagement with the device, or the “nose-to-screen” factor

Taking these factors into account, at the end of 2009, we conducted a study comparing online and mobile advertising effectiveness using InsightNorms, InsightExpress’ normative database containing over one thousand online ad effectiveness campaigns and over one hundred mobile ad effectiveness campaigns. We found mobile campaign norms were 4.5 to 5 times higher than online norms against measures of unaided awareness, aided awareness, ad awareness, message association, brand favorability and purchase intent. Online campaigns continue to offer exceptional reach, flexibility and variety; however, the high levels of engagement, the explosion in technical capabilities, low levels of clutter and the novelty of mobile advertising all likely contribute to the increased brand impact.

A comparison of three different mobile media types (Mobile Internet, SMS and Mobile video) revealed that Mobile Internet is the current powerhouse. Mobile Internet campaigns resulted in increases of 9 percentage points for unaided awareness, 9 percentage points for aided awareness and 24 percentage points for ad awareness. SMS is also effective at increasing upper level purchase funnel metrics such as awareness measures. SMS campaigns generated increases of 5 percentage points for unaided awareness, 10 percentage points for aided awareness and 18 percentage points for ad awareness.

Mobile video is still emerging, but shows campaign impact on par with SMS across most key brand metrics. This channel drove especially strong results against brand favorability. With an increase of 13 percentage points, compared to 12 percentage points for Mobile Internet and 7 percentage points for SMS, mobile video is demonstrating promise as a way to move the important brand favorability measure.

As these results show, mobile advertising effectiveness metrics are not only an integral element to understand the impact of the advertising campaign, but mobile also continues to move quickly from supporting player to co-starring role in the digital advertising universe.

I would love your comments and feedback – feel free to reach me at jliuzzo@insightexpress.com

Joy Liuzzo

Comments on this article


Want to share your thoughts...?

Hi Dean,

Good that you mentioned about AdMob but somehow AdMob does not fit into that perfect category of "targeted" and "focused" advertising. Talking crude, AdMob at best is a blind form of network.

However, just consider a scenario, you are running an app on a network of a Telco, and the subscriber data is well integrated with an ad server. The ad which you were accidentally clicking before, may soon turn out to be a link guaranteeing a 7% CTR.

Saurabh Ohri,

Hi Jon! We didn't include mobile apps because we're still building our norms for those. We should have a stable base of studies within the next few months and we'll definitely be looking at those as soon as we can.
Warm regards,

Joy Liuzzo, InsightExpress

I hear what you are saying Dean and it comes down to the right mobile strategy. Running banners on the bottom of your apps might not work, but a sponsorship or take over or some other integration could work better for your audience. Keep in mind that we're still discovering the elements that work best for mobile advertising and it's going to take some trial and error before everyone finds the one that works the best for their content and audience.
Warm regards,

Joy Liuzzo, InsightExpress

Joy, why not include apps in the breakout of mobile web, SMS and mobile video? Mobile web content is often perceived as the poor relative to native apps, so facts are helpful in discerning hype from reality.

Dean, on the contrary, the study is solid and compelling. A small delta might make the conclusion debatable but not a difference on this scale. So, regarding your rationale:

"I've never clicked except by accident while using apps on my own droid so wouldn't expect other people to"

...we've all encountered that sort of comment with regards to banner and search ads - yet advertising dollars never stop shifting online. Marketing cannot be managed through anecdote. It's a numbers game.


-- Jon Cooper
VP Marketing, Movitas

Jon Cooper, Movitas

Sorry have to disagree with you there.

I'm a content publisher and although we could mobilise our content eg www.LiveBaseballChat.com , www.LiveNascarChat.com etc etc we, at this stage anyway, have chosen not to.
From my own personal experience I can't imagine a bigger waste of everyone's time running admob banner ads on the base of the app, I've never clicked except by accident while using apps on my own droid so wouldn't expect other people to.
The reason mobile advertisers want to talk engagement is because clicks are pitiful and makes them look bad.
Lets get a better method of displaying creative and then we might find more advertisers interested in spending money on supporting mobile content
Dean Collins

Dean Collins, live chat concepts

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