Business Tools

App Use Vs. Web—More Opportunities to Collect Solid Marketing Data

SEMA News—December 2013

By Joe Dysart

App Use Vs. Web

A Marketing Opportunity Beckons

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates recently rolled out Ad Pano, a platform for in-app ads running on Windows 8.
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates recently rolled out Ad Pano, a platform for in-app ads running on Windows 8.

With mobile apps trouncing mobile websites as the preferred medium among smartphone and tablet users, businesses looking to reach those audiences are seriously considering marketing and advertising “in-app.” Essentially, mobile-device users are spending much more time with their apps than with the mobile web—in part because those apps often run much faster on smartphones and tablets than the mobile web does.

For example, Facebook has invested serious coin in developing a special Facebook app to run on smartphones and other mobile devices, in part because it knows its app will run much faster on mobile devices than when users try to access Facebook over the mobile web.

Moreover, app use is also besting the mobile web, given that apps by their very nature represent a specific activity—gaming, reading a favorite periodical, checking in on Facebook and the like—that a user has integrated into his or her daily or perhaps weekly life. By comparison, use of the mobile web can vary greatly day by day.

It’s no surprise, then, that for many businesses, access to mobile app activities that are so personal and so habitual represents a tantalizing opportunity for marketing and advertising. More than 101 million U.S. consumers currently use mobile apps, with spending on mobile advertising estimated at $4 billion annually, according to market research firm Nielsen.

Indeed, the average consumer spends an average of two hours and 38 minutes each day using a smartphone or tablet, according to an April 2013 report released by Flurry Analytics, a mobile advertising analytics firm. Eighty percent of that time, users are leveraging apps on their mobile devices to get things done or simply pass the time, Flurry said.

Nielsen unearthed similar stats on apps in its Q1 2013 Cross-Platform Report. Nielsen found that smartphone users spent 87% of their time using apps and only 13% of their time surfing the mobile web. And Nielsen also found that iPad users were three times more likely to use apps than to use the mobile web.

Looking ahead, it appears that the clout of in-app advertising should only get stronger, given that mobile devices are now poised to eclipse traditional desktop PCs as the preferred technology for everyday computing. Specifically, market research firm IDC predicted that shipments of tablets will surpass those for desktop PCs by the close of this year and will subsequently edge ahead of laptop and notebook PC shipments in 2014.

Fortunately, a number of major players are looking to help businesses market and advertise in mobile apps, including Microsoft, which released a new ads-in-apps solution in June called Ad Pano. Essentially, Ad Pano is designed to make it easier to drop company ads into any Windows 8 app. The Redmond goliath created the solution in partnership with a number of advertising-related agencies, including AKQA, Razorfish and Y&R.

Another way to ride the trend is to work with a firm like Flurry Analytics. The company specializes in tracking millions of app users on a daily basis and said that it can pinpoint a particular demographic that a marketer or advertiser is looking to reach among all those app users and then serve up an ad to the specific audience the marketer or advertiser wants to reach.

No matter how or where you run your in-app ad, you’ll want to be able to measure its impact if at all possible. If you’ve created your own mobile app for your company in-house, you can glean those kind of metrics free from Flurry Analytics. It offers a free analytics service for in-app advertisers as a way to promote its overall business.

By dropping a few snippets of Flurry code into your mobile app—or convincing the owner of the app you’re advertising in to do the same—you’ll be able to net all sorts of insights. Flurry’s metrics will show you, for example, how users are interacting with your app and its advertising and where your app is most popular, based on demographics, interest, geography and other variables. You’ll also be able to study how to best optimize your app and its advertising to ensure that it’s bringing you the most in sales.

Nielsen offers a similar paid service, dubbed Nielsen Mobile Brand Effect. “As mobile in-app advertising continues to evolve, having meaningful metrics will be key to advertisers investing with confidence and this medium reaching its full potential,” said Greg Stuart, CEO of Mobile Marketing Association.

Meanwhile, market research firm Forrester recommended the following best practices in its 2012 report, “The Mobile In-App Marketing Opportunity,” when you’re running your own, in-app ad campaign:

Get Clear on Mobile Apps’ Unique, On-The-Fly Nature: Unlike TV or the web, mobile apps are generally used on the go or during a few spare moments. That usage calls for advertising designed for brief, fleeting moments.

Go for Quick Engagement: Calls to action within your in-app ad should be as effortless to execute as possible. Getting someone in your target audience to sign up for your mailing list (like your Facebook page), request a quote or similar actions should be considered a victory. Conversely, don’t expect click-throughs to your website followed by deep research into your company. Mobile users typically don’t use their devices for that kind of research.

Consider Opt-In Advertising: Mobile advertising platforms often offer companies the option to offer opt-in ads or ads that offer users the option to choose or ignore an ad or marketing message within an app. This strategy is perfectly suited to a business attempting to reach a specific demographic of users of a widely popular app.

Maximize Mobile’s Opportunity for Big Data Analytics: Forrester said that while the use of big data analytics is limited for in-app marketing and advertising—in which large amounts of data are examined to uncover patterns or other useful information—it’s only a matter of time before those analytics become available. A number of firms are already applying big data analytics to mobile use of the web. So the same analytics should pop up shortly for in-app marketing and advertising as well, Forrester said.

Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan.
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