Paul Childs, Chief Marketing Officer, Adfonic talks us through a week-by-week guide for retailers as to how to most effectively use mobile as a marketing channel to reap the full benefits of mobile this Christmas
Christmas is the busiest time in any retailer’s year and it’s important that retailers planning to use mobile advertising campaigns this year make them engaging and effective to capitalise on the opportunity that this period presents. Whether the objectives are to drive traffic to the mCommerce site, create brand recognition or increase footfall to physical stores, a carefully planned mobile advertising campaign can be a key component of any retailer’s integrated marketing strategy.
Last year at Adfonic we recorded and analysed mobile click patterns throughout December from across our mobile advertising network. Our network includes more than 10,000 publisher sites and apps generating a global reach of 133 million unique mobile users each month – so it’s a fairly representative view of how consumers are engaging with mobile ads. We identified patterns of behaviour and trends that occur on mobile over the Christmas period. The results were fascinating – and, by bearing these trends and insights in mind, retailers can integrate these findings and observations into their marketing communications plans for Christmas.
Getting an early start
Of course, many large retailers will start to plan the detail behind their fourth quarter marketing communications efforts in the second or third quarter of the year. It’s at this point, when planning and assigning budget, that the retailer should put together a mobile advertising brief, particularly if they plan to use more interactive ways to engage consumers like rich media within their mobile advertising campaign.
A rich media campaign involves many different stakeholders: ad networks, the party responsible for creative design and development (whether this is the agency or ad network), the agency, brand, and the rich media platform provider. As a result, there’s a great deal of coordination and many different stages to planning and implementing a rich media campaign.
Rich media – bringing mobile ad campaigns to life
Rich media is a big theme for the mobile advertising community and some retailers and brands will make use of rich media creative this Christmas. Rather than a mobile ad appearing as a standard banner on a screen, rich media creatives deliver immediate interaction and engagement with consumers on the phone.
Some rich media campaigns may start out as standard banners, too: once a consumer clicks on the banner, the engagement begins as the standard banner expands to full page, a video begins to play, or the consumer is directed to a number of interactive pages that communicate a brand story.
In essence rich media is more akin to a TV ad, and it’s this additional engagement that drives higher conversation rates and engagement soft (recall) and hard (interaction) metrics.
John Lewis and the IAB recently carried out a study which found that of 1,250 or so panelists, those exposed to an expandable banner were 25% more likely to recall the rich media advertising than those presented with a static banner. These adverts are highly trackable with retailers able to see which times, creatives and elements are driving shoppers to the mCommerce site and subsequent purchase.
Retailers can trace everything from how many people view an ad, interact with the rich media brand experiences to how many click through to the site and generate a purchase transaction.
An integrated approach
When planning Christmas marketing campaigns, it’s important to avoid the trap of viewing mobile in isolation. The fundamental purpose of integrated marketing communication is to make all efforts and resources work together to maximise impact at minimal cost.
Rather, mobile should be viewed as just another marketing channel, all marketing efforts should be integrated, with similar creative and messaging – whether this is on television, online or via mobile. When the campaign is aligned across all channels, they reinforce each other: so, television advertising creates awareness, and web and mobile advertising drive direct response.
Mobile ads that are coordinated to appear at a simultaneous time to television ads from the same retailer can be very powerful – because the consumer, both watching TV ads and browsing on a smartphone or tablet devices, is a mere click away from the retailer’s mCommerce site or other call-to-action. Mobile advertising, deployed in this way, helps to close the loop to transaction.
Once the campaign has been thoroughly planned and implemented, it should run from early November. However, it’s in the final weeks of November and the first few weeks of December that its effectiveness and ability to engage the consumer will become evident – and, with last year’s trends in mind, we have some advice for those running advertising campaigns over the final month to Christmas Day.
Week One: 28 November – 04 December
The campaign refinement process
Last year, mobile click numbers were steady across this week, and hadn’t yet risen to the heady heights sustained throughout the rest of December.
This is a good period, then, for retailers to trial various creatives that they may have developed for their rich media advertising campaigns. When they have ascertained the creative that is performing best, retailers can shift budget to this for the remainder of their Christmas campaign.
Retailers should also make sure that their mobile ads are served at the best time of day to engage consumers – previous research from Adfonic found that mobile clicks rise in the evenings from 18:00, as online traffic begins to fall.
Measurement plays a vital role in helping retailers to decide on which creative is more engaging and effective. Retailers can measure the specific impact of their rich media mobile ads in particular – if, for example, the rich media mobile ad includes a video clip, it’s possible to understand how many completed and partial views it is receiving and which part of the ad people are clicking on. This data should be informing planning and tweaks to January sales creatives, which we’ll come to later.
Week Two & Three: 05 December – 18 December
Measure, measure, measure
Last year, this week saw a great rise in mobile clicks – on 7th December, mobile clicks were almost double the number of the day before. From this date, mobile clicks increase sharply every day, reaching a peak on 12th December – possibly marking the ‘first phase’ of consumers’ Christmas shopping in December, as Christmas draws nearer. As we’ll see, there is a later surge in the week preceding 25th December itself – the ‘second phase’.
During this time, it’s likely that retailers will be experiencing a great deal of traffic to their mCommerce sites. Retailers should continue to measure the impact of their mobile ad campaigns: various metrics will allow the retailer to see the reach of the campaign, how many people are clicking on mobile ads and how users are interacting with the ad.
In addition, real-time post-click conversion reporting will allow retailers to continue to measure the impact that their mobile ad campaign is having, demonstrating how many mobile clicks are resulting in a transaction. This allows the retailer to make changes in real time to the ad campaign to optimise results, even as the campaign is in progress.
Week Four: 19 December – 25 December
The switch to a January sales mobile ad campaign
This week is another ‘boom week’ for mobile clicks – thanks, arguably, to a combination of last-minute shopping and the ever-earlier start of the January sales. During this week, it’s time for retailers to change the creative of their mobile advertising campaign and move to their post-Christmas campaign, focussed on driving transactions in January sales.
The date to end the pre-Christmas mobile ad campaign, and begin the post-Christmas campaign, will vary depending on the kind of retailer. Retailers that are operating purely via mCommerce and eCommerce sites – such as Amazon – are likely to have a last-delivery date several days prior to Christmas Day, before which consumers must place orders to accommodate delivery before 25th December.
As a result, these retailers can implement their January sales mobile ad campaigns several days prior to the 25th, driving traffic to their mCommerce site, where their sales are hosted. Indeed, Adfonic’s study of mobile click patterns from last year suggests that this is very effective: from 23rd December, mobile clicks increased substantially each day, and in fact Christmas Day itself was the second biggest day in December for mobile clicks across the Adfonic marketplace.
Some retailers, however, won’t operate purely via their eCommerce and mCommerce sites – they may also have physical shops, particularly if they are a very large, nationwide brand such as John Lewis or Marks and Spencer. In the case of these retailers, they may wish to keep their pre-Christmas creative in place until the closing hours of Christmas Eve itself – to increase footfall to their stores during the final few days that late shoppers buy Christmas gifts.
The iPad 2 is very likely be one of the most popular gifts this Christmas, and iPad traffic will receive a large boost as a result – something for retailers to bear in mind when planning their January sales campaigns.
My key advice for retailers looking to bring mobile into their advertising strategies this Christmas and January is to integrate the mobile campaign with campaigns running across other channels; be aware of how consumers engage with mobile over the festive period and last but by no means least, measure and adjust campaigns as a continuous process to see the best results.