Performance focus: What opportunities does mobile offer performance marketers and should mobile tracking be integrated more?

As part of an in-depth look into the performance marketing industry The Drum caught up with some of the UK's leading performance marketing agencies including - A4u, Affiliate Window, affilinet UK, Found, OMG, Tradedoubler and ValueClick Media.

What opportunities does the growth in mobile present for performance marketers?Chris Johnson, content director, A4uMobile has become an outlet for performance marketers to be able to influence the customer journey at new stages of the purchase and decision-making chain. The ability for publishers to use mobile to drive footfall into high street stores whilst still being paid a CPA for offline sales is a strong proposition today in the area of ‘agile’ commerce.Kevin Edwards, strategy director, Affiliate WindowMobile represents significant growth for any marketer in any discipline. Many people won’t recognise the substantial innovation that many publishers have already demonstrated in the mobile space yet are probably taking advantage of it. Take so called incentivised traffic: offers, vouchers, cashback and deals that offer the consumer an incentive to transact. Many of the apps are funded by performance relationships based on years of investment in traditional desktop activity. Mobile also offers these publishers a shot in the arm and additional routes to market, offering the brands they promote a number of ways of engaging with their user bases.Beyond these affiliate types we’re also seeing a steady trickle of so called mobile ‘content’ affiliates approach us, specifically in the fashion sector. What is additionally interesting is how tablet apps are also sitting alongside mobile apps as an additional promotional opportunity.Mobile shouldn’t be underestimated. We’ve seen a fourfold increase in sales in the past year and whilst that growth will likely slow in 2013 it will reach the tipping point next year whereby performance marketers can’t avoid it.Gary Bicker, managing director, affilinet UKWith £3.5bn of 2012 Christmas retail sales to be purchased on or influenced by smartphones according to Deloitte, it’s impossible to ignore the potential of the channel. Indeed some of the companies we work with were early adopters and are already reaping the rewards. eBay, for example, expects to drive over 10 billion dollars’ worth of mobile transactions globally in 2012.As a network we are definitely witnessing a shift in the way consumers interact with brands online and in particular we see the potential of mobile in closing the loop between on and offline. While it is still common for consumers to browse in-store and then make their purchases online, advertisers are also now recording how online and mobile activities are driving people to complete their purchase in-store. Debenhams is a great example of this given that its omni-channel customers spend three times more than in-store only customers.One of the key challenges – and opportunities - associated with mobile is making a connection via the small screen. However, if done correctly mobile offers a great opportunity for advertisers to engage with their customers in a more personalised manner and in a relevant context. Those that deliver the most seamless experience, via no matter which channel, will be the most successful at driving sales.Tina Judic, managing director, FoundThere is a huge amount of opportunity in this space, and we’re already experiencing this. In some ways, the simplicity of mobile campaigns is the ability to mimic performance marketing models that have worked for years on desktop and take them across to mobile. However, it doesn’t just stop there. Mobile presents so many unique opportunities in its own right, particularly in the adoption of models that harness new customer intent, such as local, and the integration of models with mobile functionality, such as the ability to call and download apps.The key thing to understand with mobile is that it’s still growing, it’s still new, it’s not saturated and there are so many opportunities to harness. Mobile is very much on the move, instant action-focussed with more and more transactions occurring online. The IMRG have reported this year that 20 per cent of online purchase will be through a mobile device this Christmas, with visits through the channel expected to hit an all-time high of 30 per cent. Merchants can work hand in hand with performance marketers to truly establish themselves in this space.Carla Arrindell, client services director, OMGCustomer engagement is one of the key opportunities that Mobile presents. We’ve helped our clients leverage mobile activity primarily to drive more customers into store or call centre, which is especially pertinent for brands in finance, telecoms or utilities sectors, where products can be complex and there is a growing need for transparency and the ability to build trust. We’ve worked with a number of clients to leverage mobile activity, through PayPerCall campaigns for example, in line with their wider marketing objectives. The ability to cross sell and upsell typically means acquisitions through this channel drive a greater ROI, with some clients reporting 40 per cent higher ROI here compared to other digital channels.Dan Cohen, Market Unit Leader, TradedoublerMobile devices are transforming the way consumers interact with brands. This has opened up a new world of opportunity and challenge for marketing departments everywhere, with attention focused on issues such as mobile Apps, mobile wallets, NFC and rich media. For some reason, the concept of mobile affiliate and performance marketing seems to have been left in the shadows.Yet mobile affiliate marketing significantly extends the reach and influence of mobile advertising and marketing campaigns. It generates new and highly qualified leads and underpins highly targeted and tailored promotional campaigns which can be accurately tracked, measured and analysed for business benefit. Richard Sharp, MD ValueClick MediaAs with any new platform, mobile presents a compelling range of opportunities to brands. First, we cannot ignore the fact 28 per cent of internet access now comes from mobile devices. But mobile also enables brands to engage with consumers in a much more personalised way and play off the context of where they are at a particular time and how they’re using their handset or tablet. Social, geo, time of day and the weather, along with desktop browsing and purchasing history are amongst the many variables that could inform sophisticated display targeting strategies on mobile and could create highly effective campaigns. But mobile also challenges performance marketers to think more subtly about brand engagement. Mobile devices are a far more personal space so targeting, timing and usefulness are critical themes that should inform our strategies.Is there a problem with brands not implementing mobile tracking? What are the challenges of mobile tracking?Chris Johnson, content director, A4uIt’s not necessarily a problem of implementing mobile tracking, but more an understanding of the need to do so in a timely fashion. Many networks are pushing the need to implement tracking and yet they seem to be met with considerable lethargy by advertisers surrounding the subject. Previously banded as a ‘chicken and egg’ situation, without the publisher traffic going through mobile advertisers don’t see tracking implementation as a high priority. Why should publishers send through mobile traffic if it’s not going to be tracked? A change in priority to implement tracking is needed. Kevin Edwards, strategy director, Affiliate WindowFor Affiliate Window, this has been our absolute number one priority in 2012. If we don’t get this one right, every other mobile proposition a network talks about is just fluff. We’ve invested substantial resource in ensuring tracking is in place after we estimated publishers stood to lose out on £2m in commission this year through mobile sites not tracking publisher sales. The frustration for networks and publishers alike is the tracking required is a carbon copy of their standard performance marketing campaign tracking and just needs to be added to any dedicated m-commerce sites. We’ve managed to mitigate the vast majority of revenue loss but there are still some significant advertisers on our networks without mobile publisher tracking in place.It’s also important to remember that any sales from sites relying on responsive design or advertisers yet to roll out mobile sites will continue to track. The only occasion when they won’t is if a separate mobile platform is created and tracking left off. Advertisers wouldn’t expect to get Google AdWords clicks for free, or not to pay a supplier for work they have done for them, so why should a publisher go unrewarded for their efforts in driving traffic and sales?Gary Bicker, managing director, affilinet UKWhen you consider that only 10 per cent of the top one million Quantcast domains are mobile optimised, I think the challenge is a lot bigger than just tracking. Statistics released across the industry on a daily basis regarding mobile sales clearly demonstrate that consumers are changing the way they shop, but unfortunately many businesses are not reacting quickly enough. It’s now become paramount that advertisers create mobile sites and ensure they include tracking to accurately report on mobile activity. Unfortunately it’s the tracking that is often overlooked in the initial development process, which means that advertisers are unable reward publishers for driving traffic to their mobile sites. There is still a lot of education required about the necessity of doing this and further collaboration is needed between advertisers and publishers to deliver a seamless experience on mobile that will ultimately result in more transactions taking place via this channel.Tina Judic, managing director, FoundYes, there’s a huge problem. This slow adoption is already impacting the traffic that can be driven through this channel for many merchants, limiting the ability for performance partners or affiliates to be truly innovative within the channel. Unfortunately, a lot of merchants back off from mobile site adoption due to cost, complications and effort however, as the traffic and conversions rise through mobile, the sooner those brands who have not embraced mobile will need to react, or risk miss losing out. The biggest problem that mobile currently faces is tracking and insight. As the channel grows and as users start to switch between multiple devices, the issue clients face is following that user across devices, not just across the web, to understand their path to conversion (or non-conversion). Tag management is becoming simpler and cheaper however we’re still not in a place where a user browsing on a mobile and converting on a desktop is captured as a full journey. Google and Facebook are best positioned to facilitate this understanding in the market but we’re not there yet.Carla Arrindell, client services director, OMGThere certainly is, and it seems to be a common misconception that implementing mobile tracking is more complex than other tracking configurations, which is simply not true. However, a bigger challenge that brands seem to face is the build and deployment of mobile ready sites, which of course is a key component in ensuring that mobile activity is properly optimised. There are a number of brands out there where mobile tracking is enabled but the user journey is not mobile ready, so conversions are low. Affiliates are becoming less inclined to invest efforts in driving traffic to these campaigns, choosing to focus their efforts on those that have mobile capabilities. Richard Sharp, MD ValueClick MediaMobile devices do not use cookies in apps and consequently any in-app activity is very hard to track. It is very difficult to measure a path to conversion through apps, and therefore it is hard to have anything other than a last click attribution model. However, advertisers have started using mobile advertising as a brand-building channel and mobile publishers are developing specific mobile apps for users to use which can therefore be tracked.These questions were asked as part of a performance supplement with the 14 December issue of The Drum.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.