Forrester: Attribution Still Holding Back Spending in Mobile Advertising

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CardStar_Case_Study_150x150The opportunities in mobile and cross-channel advertising are growing by the minute, but one big obstacle is holding back this growth — attribution.

According to a report from 4INFO, Acxiom, and Forrester Consulting, only 13 percent of marketers feel very confident in their ability to measure cross-channel, and only 18 percent of marketers say they are very confident in their ability to measure the ROI of their mobile efforts.

This lack of confidence directly impacts marketing spend. Ninety-three percent say they would run more cross-channel campaigns if they were able to effectively measure mobile advertising performance.

For the “Master Mobile Measurement to Unleash True Cross-Channel Advertising” report, Forrester Consulting surveyed 100 U.S. digital marketing decision makers from consumer brands to get a better idea of the current state of mobile and cross-channel marketing.

Without the ability to appropriately measure the campaigns, marketers are not able to adequately value mobile and cross-channel programs, and they therefore have a hard time justifying higher investments in the channels. While marketers may acknowledge the growth in mobile adoption and the cross-channel behavior shifts among consumers, they’re still held back as long as they don’t have the hard numbers and exact ROI.

Mobile currently only makes up about 5 percent of the total advertising budget for most brands. And in 2013, 57 percent of marketers executed less than half of their advertising campaigns cross-channel. They’re falling behind despite the growing opportunity.

One of the biggest factors in cross-channel marketing is personalized targeting and making sure that you are reaching the right consumer with relevant and timely messages. You then need to be able to track that same consumer across platforms to deliver a consistent experience.

However, 42 percent of the marketers survey felt unable to accurately target the same consumer across channels. That means that they also have a harder time measuring ROI when they can’t track a consumer who received a mobile ad that then continued to purchase on desktop.

The survey found that 36 percent of the marketers use click-throughs to measure mobile campaigns, 36 percent use website hits/traffic sources, 31 percent use social interactions, 30 percent use post-click engagement (time with landing page, app, etc.), and 29 percent use brand awareness lift. Only 18 percent measure in-store sales lift even though it is a key metric to justify mobile ad spend.

Additionally, only 8 percent of marketers were able to track mobile users across online and offline channels with no limitations. This holds them back from truly believing in the power of cross-channel campaigns.

The survey clearly showed that marketers are interested in ramping up their cross-channel spend, with 86 percent saying they want to increase the number of cross-channel campaigns they run this year. Eighty-six percent also said they’ increase mobile ad spending for 2014 if they were better able to measure mobile advertising performance.

All they need is some better metrics and a boost of confidence. That’s where tracking and better analytics comes into play.

“Marketers lack confidence in cross-channel marketing because they have not been measuring the results of marketing efforts across channels,” said Chuck Moxley, Chief Marketing Officer at 4INFO. “Without knowing whether cross-channel marketing efforts are working — and without the ability to attribute sales to specific or multi-channel campaigns — it’s difficult to justify investment in those efforts. Most marketers realize that cross-channel marketing is required to maximize success but lack confidence to invest fully in channels where the outcome is uncertain or unmeasurable.”

While it may seem difficult to track across channels, the technology is on its way, and marketers will soon gain the confidence they need to get onboard 100 percent.

“The challenge lies in being able to identify the consumer and the impact of a campaign on that individual across channels in a consistent way,” Moxley said. “Cookies work online, but they don’t work in mobile. Many mobile campaign measurement solutions rely on guesswork and ‘look-alike’ modeling which do not satisfy marketers’ requirements for transparency and measurement. That is changing now as new technology leverages big data to make cross-channel advertising campaigns fully measurable.”

Rebecca Borison is a contributor at Street Fight.