Bringing additional marketing dollars into the mobile category is critical for the growth of the mobile marketing industry.

The reason behind the conservative mobile marketing spend seen today is that brand marketers are still looking for tangibility and measurability. Definition, accuracy and consistency of measurement are absolutely integral to the development of the mobile channel. With the introduction of accountability to the medium, marketers will no longer see mobile marketing as a ‘trial & error’ exercise but as one of the most affordable and effective medium for reaching their consumers.

Before allocating a more significant budget to mobile, brands require a deep understanding of:

  • The role the medium plays in the overall mix
  • Consumer acceptance of brand messaging
  • Consistent guidelines and best practices to ensure rapid deployment across brands and geographies
  • Evidence of effectiveness and value

Measurement has become a crucial element to quantify the mobile opportunity to drive brand involvement. The mobile value chain presents a complex model for effective measurement, given the number of players involved and the necessary access to information that has historically been available in operator networks only. So what must we, as an industry, do to drive the brand spend and marketing effectiveness measures?

Define ad currencies. Defining what we're measuring is the perfect place to start. In mobile, we have mobile Web, downloadable, mobile search, mobile video and television, and so forth, all of which must have a set of currencies on which to base measurement.

The Mobile Marketing Association in collaboration with the Media Rating Council came up with the ‘Mobile Measurement Ad Currency Definitions.’ Created to serve as the basis for discussions on development of a set of guidelines for mobile ad counting, the document provides ad currency definitions that apply to each of the referenced forms of advertisements including ad impressions, rich media as impressions, streaming video advertising and click measurement:

  • Ad impression: An ad impression is defined as the measure of the delivery of an advertisement from an ad delivery system in response to a user request. This request may be a result of a user calling for the ad to be delivered, or the technology used by the user calling for the ad to be delivered based on other user actions.
  • Streaming video advertising: To maintain the concept of counting on when the user has the greatest opportunity to see the ad, the buffering that often occurs upon initial delivery of a video commercial must be accounted for. A valid streaming video ad impression should only be counted only once the video ad begins to appear to the user post-buffering.
  • Rich media ad impression: the measurement of rich media ad impressions should also occur as late in the process as possible. Rich media providers should tag ads so that they are counted only when they are played. Alternative ad designs should be made available for delivery to users with disabled flash functionalities.
  • Click Measurement: Ad impressions related to click measurement are those ads that include content on which the user may click to obtain additional content or to initiate a transaction. At present there are differing methods used for the counting of clicks. Regardless of method used, these methods should be fully disclosed to users. Development and use of unique click identifiers is encouraged.

Quantify elements for success. Once you have the currencies, define the success elements for mobile, allowing brand marketers to understand what works.

Measure the medium. Once you have all the tools in place, measure mobile's effectiveness in cross-media marketing communications initiatives. Determining what and how much to allocate to mobile is critically important to driving ongoing spend to the channel.

The lack of standardized metrics to measure audience engagement has been one of the main challenges that have kept the mobile marketing and advertising industry from reaching its full potential. Measurement will be the next element to help a brand determine the right mobile spend and prioritize mobile against other media. What's important is gaining the input and leadership from the critical players in the ecosystem. And it will take the cooperation of all key constituents -- including professional organizations, leading brand marketers, content providers, and wireless operators -- to develop a measurement initiative that achieves the level of information brands require to move ahead with their mobile investments.

Recently, GSMA and comScore Inc., in partnership with operators O2, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and 3UK, announced the official UK launch of the GSMA Mobile Media Metrics (MMM) product. Taking irreversibly, made anonymous, mobile Internet usage data from all five UK mobile operators, the service will provide a rich, aggregated view of mobile Internet usage behaviour, enabling market-level analysis of site visitation and engagement metrics, such as page views, time spent on specific sites, and device types and features.

The GSMA-comScore initiative provides us with an excellent indicator of mobile marketing industry metrics in a mature market like the UK. This is definitely a more tangible measurement of reach as compared to other traditional media channels. For markets like India and the Philippines that have some of the highest mobile penetration and SMS usage rates, metrics such as these will provide agencies with the ammunition to demonstrate the value of the mobile channel to brands as they consider mobile as an integral part of their campaigns.

By Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director, APAC, Mobile Marketing Association