Damon Combrinck, VP Platform Solutions, EMEA, MediaMath explains the importance of a mobile-first marketing strategy.

Mobile has become a way of life and people are becoming increasingly dependent on their mobile devices for completing daily tasks. Often dubbed the ‘second screen’, mobiles are replacing laptops and desktops as the primary screen for many consumers, which means that brands clearly need to consider a ‘mobile first’ approach to marketing.

Mobile penetration is high in the UK, with 51% of adults owning a smartphone and just over half of consumers accessing the Internet via mobile devices. Mobile users in Britain are more likely to shop using a mobile device than any other European country, with 32% of consumers making a monthly purchase compared with just 8% in France and 15% in Germany. Consumers aren’t just using their mobiles for shopping – the British Bankers’ Association reports that the use of mobile banking apps has almost doubled over the past year, with customers now making 5.7 million transactions a day via smartphones and other mobile devices.

It’s evident that marketers are responding to this dependence on mobile, with mobile advertising increasing by 93.3% in 2013. However without a thorough understanding of mobile best practices, many brands are ill prepared to shift the focus of their marketing strategy to this crucial channel. Together with the lack of a comprehensive plan behind the transition to mobile, some marketers are failing to maximise its full potential.

So what do brands need to know before they take the leap into mobile centric marketing and what are the best practices they need to consider in relation to this rapidly growing channel?

Advertising formats 

Mobile advertising can encompass a wide range of formats including display, social, native, and video. Specific formats are more effective for particular audiences and at different points on the conversion path, brands should test a variety of formats to achieve the best possible results. Where possible, mobile advertising should be non-intrusive and the popularity of native advertising demonstrates the value that consumers place on this approach.

Consumer context
Mobile devices are always on and within reach, so mobile ads are likely to be viewed in a broad range of situations and contexts compared to ads on desktops or TV. Therefore, when designing mobile ads, marketers should consider where and how the consumer will view advertising, and how this could differ compared to static devices. Timing is crucial in mobile ad delivery, especially when the user is engaged but not active, for example when they are scanning through news feeds or waiting for content to download.

Targeting and placement 

Mobile provides a wealth of data – including location data – that enables very specific audience segmentation and targeting. Making use of this data allows marketers to reach receptive and responsive audiences with relevant and personalised messages. Ad placement is a big concern in mobile marketing – marketers need to ensure their ads are placed alongside appropriate quality content with messaging that is relevant to the brand and its audience. Placing an ad in the wrong context could seriously jeopardise the brand’s image.

Attribution and reporting 

Mobile advertising should be synchronised with other forms of marketing rather than viewed as an autonomous channel. And a robust attribution solution is necessary to understand the performance of mobile marketing at every level of the conversion pathway, to discover the impact that mobile touchpoints have on these other marketing channels, and vice versa. To fully comprehend the success of a mobile campaign and ensure the best possible ROI, reporting should include mobile-specific metrics that provide full transparency and feedback into the media buying process.

Mobile ad design
One of the benefits of mobile advertising is the ability for consumers to take action instantly by finding out more about the brand, sharing the ad via social media, or even making a purchase. Maximising this benefit requires mobile ads designed to include interactive features that enable instant engagement, as well as strong calls to action. And while the principles of designing for touch screen are very different to designing for desktop or laptops, designing for the smartphone screen requires even more consideration.

‘Mobile first’ has become the mantra of forward thinking brands, and there is little doubt that mobile is shaping the future of marketing, particularly in the UK where smartphones are used routinely for everyday activities. As long as brands have a comprehensive mobile marketing plan considering factors such as ad format, consumer context, targeting and placement, attribution and reporting, and mobile ad design, the transition to mobile centric marketing should be a profitable one.

Read on the iab’s blog