Study: 1 in 10 Mobile Ad Impressions in Retail Leads to a Store Visit

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storeMobile ad startup xAd released a report this week detailing some new findings about the way mobile ads influence store visits in the auto, retail and restaurant industry. The results show the increasing importance of connecting online mobile activities to offline conversions and store visitation.

xAd enlisted Nielsen to analyze and measure advertising effectiveness across 12 major brands and nearly 80 individual mobile ad campaigns in the retail, restaurant and auto categories.

The report, which focused on the way location-based proximity targeting and creative messaging affect outcomes, found that 10% of mobile users who looked at an ad for a retailer actually eventually visited the advertisers location.  Additionally, the study found that 77% of mobile transactions end up being closed in-store.

“What we’re really trying to do in this study is understand the full potential of mobile,” said xAd Director of Marketing Sarah Ohle. “One of the great things about mobile is obviously that you can reach people online and have them engage you. That gets a lot of focus. But what really mobile can do that other media in the past have not been able to do is track offline behavior.”

Two things the study focuses on are targeting around businesses and their competitors and location targeting at the city level. By understanding how these influence consumer behavior, brands can get the most out of banner ads according to Ohle. She said it isn’t enough to hope a banner ad will drive people to a restaurant or retail business’s website. Instead, people should get an actionable message while they are looking at the banner.

“What we saw for retail is that adding a location message directly to the banner is an effective tactic,” said Ohle. “It means actually adding a message to the ad that tells you how far away you are from the nearest retail location.”

“Having that message there in consumers’ faces was a huge driver to get them in the door,” she added.

While the study found a lot of similarity between how mobile can be used to drive foot traffic for the retail and restaurant industries, it also shows that automotive has its own distinct set of needs.

“For auto, it’s a totally different story,” said Ohle. “For auto what we saw is that people aren’t necessarily as driven by proximity. It doesn’t matter as much that a dealership is five miles away from them. It’s a longer considered purchase. People will drive five miles.”

She said auto marketers can get the most out of mobile by using different tactics than restaurants and retail.

“For auto the best tactics are to use the banner ads to encourage people to learn more, to engage with the brand,” she said. “To click on the ad, learn more about the cars and then when they’re educated, the will go and visit the lot.”

The report also details the effectiveness of serving ads around competitor’s locations and how messages can be optimized to increase visitation. Ohle is hoping the results will make it easier for her to convince brands to take a more dynamic approach to mobile marketing.

“It helped prove the importance of location in mobile,” she said. “Proximity targeting is very important. The messaging you use to drive people into the store is very important and I think just understanding that mobile isn’t a stand alone media, but that it can be used to complement other types of retail purposes, specifically in store is really the message that marketers can take from this.”

Mason Lerner is a Street Fight contributor.