Analysis / Mobile Marketing

Targeting Mobile – The Holy Grail

This is the final article in our 4 part series on Mobile Targeting. In Article 1 we talked about the difficulties with tracking customers on mobile devices and the limitations with cookies.  Article 2 reviewed some of the techniques the mobile industry is using to track mobile customers for the purposes of advertising and identified and explored the problem of cross domain tracking. In article 3 we discussed the need for advertisers and networks to create behavioural profiles and reviewed techniques such as fingerprinting and the use of complex algorithms to build up profiles. Finally we overviewed the kinds of data that mobile advertisers want to track to make advertising more effective.

You can find the first three articles here:

Targeting Mobile – Cookies

Targeting Mobile – ID Please

Targeting Mobile – Building Profiles

In our final article in this series, we look at pre-packaged and customised mobile audience profiles and investigate the practice of mobile retargeting   Finally we delve into a future where mobile wallets make it possible to target, track and retarget customers all the way through the sales funnel from awareness to purchase.

Pre-packaged Audiences

As with digital targeting, many mobile media companies use assumptions about users to create pre-packaged audiences, designed to appeal to a broad group of advertisers.  As discussed in our third article Building Profiles, until quite recently mobile targeting has been restricted to device and location data, combined with simple fixed contextual targeting.

With developments in mobile audience tracking and new software for device matching, it is now possible to connect customers’ online and mobile behaviours, and create sophisticated audience profiles.An audience profile may be created based on interest, such as online gamers, pet owners or sports fans.   Brands can then choose to target this pre-packaged mobile audience with their unique message. Audience profiles are also built around certain life stages (retirement, pregnancy) purchase intentions (car or stereo buyer), occupations (CEO, hairdresser) and many other common audience characteristics that appeal to advertisers.

The mobile industry is now on the cusp of a new targeting and advertising paradigm.

The integration of multiple data sources and types, and the mobile specific algorithms required for device and customer matching mean it’s a complex task to collect, manipulate, organise and aggregate targetable audience groups for mobile devices.  It is not uncommon for billions of data points to be collected and analysed every month, and specialist media and ad technology companies utilise various proprietary processes to aggregate the data and make it available as audience profiles. Due to the increased complexity, this practice is far less common in mobile, than with online targeting.

Customised Audience Profiles

Although it is very early days for mobile targeting, there are  also specialist mobile companies with the ability to offer customised mobile audience targeting. A customised audience profile involves pulling together various data collections and techniques to create a targetable mobile audience with a specific profile to suit a specific advertiser.

For example a brand may wants to reach 18 – 23 year olds with an interest in gaming, who are regularly near their distribution outlets, and have been known to engage with rich entertainment content on their mobile device.  An ad network or agency could use a combination of first party and publisher insights, contextual data, historical and current location data and tracked mobile browsing behaviour to build a very specific custom audience profile for this brand.

The mobile industry is now on the cusp of a new targeting and advertising paradigm.  Until recently the industry has worked within tight restrictions, having to explain to customers that certain common targeting expectations are simply not available in mobile.   We are now in very exciting times for smartphone and tablet device targeting where the holy grail of  ‘tell us who you want to target, and we can make it happen’ is finally upon us.

These days you can build a customised audience profile eg. female skiers who use their smartphone to share images!

These days you can build a customised audience profile eg. female skiers who use their smartphone to share images!

Mobile Retargeting

Mobile retargeting is not a new idea in digital advertising. At its simplest, retargeting is the practice of targeting an ad to a customer after that customer has shown interest in a brand or product category. In the desktop world, this usually means the customer has clicked on a website, or a particular page, but has not yet converted to a sale.  Retargeting in this context would mean tracking that user and, at some future point, displaying a new message encouraging their return.

Of course because of the limitations with cookies (discussed in  Targeting Mobile – Cookies) this kind of mobile retargeting is not yet possible.  If a media network had the scale and resources to collect insights within their own network, a limited kind of mobile retargeting would be possible.   Most mobile ad networks in Australia do not carry sufficient scale to achieve this.  One way it can work is by retargeting ads to consumers who clicked on a previous ad. This allows advertisers to run a mobile campaign and then retarget a second campaign with a follow up message.

With recent innovations in cross domain tracking techniques we will soon be better able to connect mobile users with some of the more sophisticated digital targeting methods.

Another retargeting opportunity in mobile involves retargeting within an app.  App developers can build code into their application software which tracks conversions and other behaviours of interest.  This is then integrated with ad serving capability and analytics to deliver targeted messages to particular users within the app.  At its simplest this is known as positive retargeting, where a customer who has already seen an ad is shown a new message.  It is also possible to implement negative retargeting within the app environment, where a customer is restricted from seeing an ad based on what has already been delivered.

There is another way of exploring retargeting in the mobile context.  Instead of looking at website visits as an indicator of purchase intent, mobile advertisers have been able to identify other behaviour indicators, such as location or social engagement.  Retargeting a customer based on where they are or have been, is known as Location, Place or Geo Retargeting.   A customer who can be tracked as spending a lot of time in a shopping centre, or eating at a particular restaurant is worth reaching out to with an offer or marketing message.   With the refined location capabilities available in smartphones these days, it is possible to use place retargeting to reach customers who visited a particular store in recent days.

Place or Geo Retargeting makes it possible to reach a customer who has previously visited a shopping centre.

These techniques do offer early opportunities for brands to run new creative only to those consumers who demonstrated an initial interest.  As the mobile ad ecosystem continues to evolve and update, so will the quality of retargeting opportunities.  As this happens we will see more mobile retargeting campaigns as brands learn to use some of the latest fingerprinting technologies discussed in article 2 Targeting Mobile – ID Please.   With recent innovations in cross domain tracking techniques we will soon be better able to connect mobile users with some of the more sophisticated digital targeting methods.

The Future of Mobile Targeting

Until recently, mobile targeting has been the poor cousin of broader digital targeting.  Yes mobile offered the unique properties of location awareness, personal identity and ubiquity, but to date the smartphone and tablet have fallen short of the sophisticated contextual and behavioural tracking available online.  This is all about to change.  With complex solutions and technology workarounds mobile is now catching up  in these areas, and the reality of the perfect marketing opportunity will soon be upon us.

What becomes possible when marketers have access to data that allows

  • a message to be presented to a customer:
  • with the right current and historical behavior
  • in the right location and context
  • using the right device
  • at exactly the right time?
A variation on the traditional marketing concept of a purchasing funnel. The funnel usually begins with awareness and ends with purchase.

A variation on the marketing concept of a purchasing funnel. The funnel usually begins with awareness and ends with purchase.

 

What happens when every message is perfectly targeted for each individual customer?   If we achieve this marketing holy grail, do we pack up and go home?

Where do we go to from here??

With current digital targeting capability we can deliver customised messages to customers at each stage of the marketing sales funnel, reaching them through the awareness, consideration and preference stages with prompts to encourage them through the funnel and onto purchase.

But then what?

Tracking The Purchase 

The final tracking hurdle is the purchase. Even if we achieve the goal of being able to follow customers as they move from online to mobile to app and back.  Even if we can deliver targeted messages every step along the way, we still lose the customer at the point of purchase.   It’s true that eCommerce has shifted the balance somewhat, but with only 5-10% of retail sales in Australia being made online, we are still a long way from being able to track purchasing with any kind of scale.

With the rise of mobile wallets it will soon be possible to cross that final frontier, following customers all the way through to purchase.

Customers are influenced by a variety of marketing interactions, many of them digital or on a mobile device.  When they finally walk into a store and purchase a product, brands have no way of knowing which marketing activity was effective in bringing them through the door. Moving in-store transactions onto a device has the potential to change everything.  With the rise of mobile wallets it will soon be possible to cross that final frontier, following customers all the way through to purchase when they use their mobile phone as an alternative to cash or a credit card.

Why Mobile Wallets Change Everything

Google-Wallet

The Google Wallet App. Not available in Australia yet.

Mobile wallets vary in their capability, but generally a mobile wallet consists of an app that is downloaded by the consumer to their device.  The app is then set up with the customer’s credit or debit card details so that the app can communicate with a point of sale terminal in the same way that a credit card does.  At the point of sale, the customer presents their smartphone to be scanned or waves it in front of an NFC reader such as those installed at most eftpos terminals these days.

It’s not yet clear what and how much customer information digital wallet providers will make available to retailers and advertisers.  What is certain however, is that some digital wallet providers will share customer purchasing data, probably anonymised, and that this data will be used for marketing purposes.

Some digital wallet providers will share customer purchasing data… and this data will be used for marketing purposes.

2014 is looking like the year of the mobile wallet in Australia. Eftpos Australia have announced their intention to trial a mobile wallet and NFC widget, with plans to launch in early 2014.   Mastercard recently launched in the Australian market with a digital wallet platform solution called MasterPass which allows customers to connect other branded credit, debit and prepaid cards. Any only a few weeks ago Visa announced that their digital wallet service V.me will launch in Australia by the end of the year.  Although Visa’s is not a mobile specific solution, the integration of customer credit card details with an online payments service lends itself naturally to an ultimate mobile rollout.  And although Google Wallet  and PayPal’s mobile payment solution are not yet available in Australia, it is only a matter of time.

Mobile wallets will make it possible to target, track and retarget customers all the way through the sales funnel from awareness to purchase.  Once we see widespread adoption of retail payments via mobile wallet we will have the opportunity to develop previously unavailable insights about the path to purchase.  Using some of the algorithmic approaches discussed in part 3 of this series Targeting Mobile – Building Profiles, we will be able to collect data about purchasing behaviour right through the sales funnel and craft marketing messages to reach customers at every stage.

The future of mobile targeting involves the manipulation of varied and diverse datasets with complex algorithms, and using them to tell an increasingly sophisticated story about usage and behaviour.  In the not so distant future we will follow the customer right through to purchase and engage with them at the point of sale. We will see the mainstream adoption of new technology in the form of mobile wallets, and applications that enable purchasing loyalty, such as the delivery and redemption of coupons via the mobile device at the point of sale.   We will see digital marketing approach and move beyond the wildest dreams of many marketers of my generation who entered the work force when mobile phones were bricks and internet marketing was a trend that some said would never catch on.  How times have changed.

 

** This is the final article in our series on Mobile Targeting.  I hope you’ve found the series valuable and that it has connected the dots on some of the more murky details of mobile targeting.  We love feedback on our articles and welcome suggestions on future topics.  Hit reply or email us on content@hapticgeneration.com.au to share your thoughts.

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