Is 2014 The Year – Or Death – Of Mobile?

laurenmooresData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Lauren Moores, vice president of analytics at Dstillery.

More than ever, consumers connect with brands through mobile communications and perform transactions on mobile devices. According to comScore, 2013 was the year that mobile — phones and tablets – accounted for more than 50% of all time spent with digital content in the U.S.

Despite the dramatic consumer shift toward mobile media, last year started slowly for mobile advertising demand. After a small seasonal fourth-quarter bump in 2012, there was an unexpected dip in early 2013, likely due to two factors: a lack of 2012 year-end budget dollar surplus and a dearth of specific mobile channel spending strategies. Fortunately, by the end of the second quarter, mobile advertising budgets had come back, driven by the expansion of mobile advertising data from publishers and SSPs, and through metadata, including the iFA, geography signals, app and domain names, and categories.

But as an industry, we still have more work to do. We are in the midst of integrating data and technology across all verticals to better understand consumer behavior in an effort to help brands acquire new customers.

Mobile is about platform fragmentation with respect to how consumers engage with digital content, according to Josh Chasin, comScore’s chief research officer.

“Not everyone is on this page, but for me, with a metrics-centric perspective, I think mobile is really about re-engineering our measurement constructs and techniques so that they are platform-agnostic and forward compatible,” he says. “Mobile isn’t a new medium, it’s just a new complication with respect to digital .”

Mobile is “another channel to consider in the data-capture process of customer retention, acquisition, interaction and engagement,” adds Beth Jacaruso, managing director at Venture Development Center, a firm specializing in developing and commercializing big data.

As part of this mobile data capture, one of the benefits of mobile is its connectivity with consumers on a physical basis in the real world, enabling brands to deliver hyperlocal ads on mobile devices.

“Mobile versus desktop means ‘out and about’ versus ‘at rest,’” says Jeremy Geiger, CEO at Retailigence. “Henceforth, the need to leverage location for maximum benefit, such as to drive impulse local behavior.”

But mobile data has its limitations. Geiger points out that the lack of in-store measurement will impact our ability to understand the full consumer transaction cycle, particularly the point of purchase. Other hurdles include poor accuracy of location-based ad inventory, making it more difficult to provide physical data-based solutions. Most importantly, the industry still doesn’t grasp the lack of cookies and the limitations of tracking devices across channels.

We expect these issues will be mitigated next year . “Advertisers [are] waking up to the fact that mobile is the most valuable media on the consumer’s most personal device, providing a communication media that can adapt to the consumer’s location, able to confirm that the consumer went to a specific location or store based on the ad,” says Geiger.

This year, device identification and ad personalization will also become more important as advertisers start combining branding and direct-response goals within one campaign. Subsequently, mobile Web technology will advance to become equal to application functionality, allowing for the medium and smaller brands to tackle mobile. In addition, the adoption of wearable technology will introduce a new pool of data, which marketers will want to access.

These changes will eventually lead to a convergence between channels, eliminating the silos that currently isolate mobile from other digital channels. Chasin predicts that in the next five years, there will be a new way for consumers to digitally connect with content in ways that go beyond computers, phones and tablets — though we don’t know exactly what that looks like yet. The whole idea of a “mobile” channel will soon be obsolete, he says.

“Remember back in the early ’80s when there was TV, and there was cable TV? Now we don’t see the world that way — it’s all TV,” Chasin concludes. “We’re going to continue to march toward the day when there isn’t computer and mobile access to digital content. It’s all digital, period.”

Follow Lauren Moores (@lolomoo) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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