Measure What Matters: New KPIs for Mobile Marketers

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Will Dorling, UK Director of Ad Sales, UK EMEA

Will Dorling, UK Director of Ad Sales, UK EMEA

You know you’re in a fast-moving industry when the benchmark measurements of success from just a few years ago are, today, simply laughable. Thankfully, we have enough humour (and humility) to be able to laugh at ourselves. Last month, when IAB UK launched their “Don’t be a Clickhead” campaign, calling on the industry to finally put a stop to using clickthrough rate (CTR) and other vanity metrics as their KPIs, they were saying something that we’ve all known, but perhaps never fully admitted, for years: CTR is not a measure of “engagement.”

What is the true measure of engagement, then?

I could give you myriad options, from a completed view (CVV) to a click, tap, swipe or shake. The wily advertiser sees engagement opportunities anywhere and everywhere and has the attitude: If you build it, they will do it.

Display and rich media ads can lead the user to play a mini-game, install an app, download a coupon, sign up for a newsletter, add a season premiere to their calendar, etc.

Traditional end cards on mobile video can offer multiple calls to action, such as replays, viewing product features, social sharing and offline connections like finding a nearby store or scheduling a test drive.

More recently, with the introduction of interactive video, viewers can be a part of the advert and to actively participate in its outcome (e.g., “wipe away” dust kicked up by race cars on the screen, “shake” the phone to mix up a martini).

We measure it because it matters

Regardless of the action, engagements are “statements of intent,” that is, a user choosing to engage and spend time interacting with a brand and your advertisement. And that is essential to your campaign because it ensures that users saw your advertisement – alleviating concern on your end first about ad fraud, but also that the user paid attention and was interested in your brand. It was not just an “impression” that flew by them. Lastly, by transforming awareness of your product or service into tangible actions, you create a bond between the target audience and your brand.

How to engage your audience – Step 1 (Find the best environment)

If you’re reading this, you’re likely already invested – perhaps heavily – in mobile app environments. If so, kudos! It’s where consumers are spending their time (vs. desktop, and even more granularly, vs. mobile web), and it’s not all on Instagram; for every one minute spent with social platforms, consumers spent two minutes across other apps.

And those “other apps” are predominantly games. According to OnDevice Mobile Gaming Research, 9 out of 10 UK adults are playing mobile games, with an average session time of 5.3 minutes – the longest of any category. During these sessions, users are highly engaged in the in-app content and happy, which puts them in a great position to positively receive advertisements.

Mobile gaming cannot be pigeonholed any longer; it is a true entertainment channel that people are spending a significant amount of time in, hours every day. It’s how they have fun, relax and even socialise. And it’s where they spend money: The mobile gaming market just hit $70.3 billion, growing more than 25% last year. Compare that to the global box office, which topped out at $41.7 billion, growing just 2.6%. It’s time to start thinking of mobile games as a competitor to the major broadcast & cable networks: it is premium content, with scalable audiences. Why else would Netflix say it’s #1 competitor isn’t HBO, it’s Fortnite?

Engaging your audience – Step 2 (Find the right format)

Starting in theatre, through cinema and TV to new forms of digital video, consumers have a long-lasting love affair with the experience of sight, sound and motion. It doesn’t matter if it’s the content itself, or advertising around it, video is proven to drive emotion and action. But not all video adverts are created equal. Here are some solid guidelines to follow when facing the plethora of video formats:

Don’t force it. Humans don’t like to be pushed into anything. More than 3 out of 4 consumers have negative reactions to pre-roll, in-banner and social autoplay ads. User-initiated video, where the user chooses to watch the ad, results in a positive experience for the majority of consumers.

Short-form is best for most. Time is the most valuable commodity for most people, so keep mobile video as short as possible; under 8 seconds is ideal for feedbased placements such as social. However, longer videos up to 30 seconds present richer storytelling opportunities, and studies show that when the user initiates a play, they will pay attention for longer.

Instant-play + high-definition + mirrored. How is your video being presented? Consider screen real estate, streaming vs. precached. Also, updates to mobile handset screens and more powerful network and WiFi connections mean digital and mobile video can now been seen in the same high quality we would expect via our TV at home. Consumers are now also watching in both landscape and portrait orientations, and advertisers need to consider this. Mirror the consumers preference for better completion rates and onward engagement.

Aligned with creative message & overall experience. Opportunities to engage need to be simple and in tune with the main creative. Do not intrude, invite! And at the right time: Before, during or after the video: each offers a different experience but needs to be treated as such.

To drive the very best user engagement, advertisers must be cognizant – of where they are putting their ads, but also the way they are presenting them. Get both of these right, and you’ll have users willingly engaging with your brand, which will drive the KPIs that will tell you how you’re really performing.