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GUEST OPINION Why Mobile Context Matters – and how to make it happen in a multi-screen, connected world

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Mobile is taking an ever greater share of the e-commerce pie, but offering a poor user experience on mobile can put people off the channel. Frank Bobo, Senior Vice President, Digital Element, discusses how intelligent use of mobile context is the next step to getting more from mobile


Consumers are moving more and more to mobile shopping as a convenient and economical way to purchase goods and services, presenting a growing opportunity for the mobile commerce industry. However, as mobile commerce increases, so too does consumer expectation, and getting the first impression wrong can result in a significant loss of business.

One-size-fits-all mobile websites that present irrelevant content and take too long to load do not deliver the experience consumers demand. Many mobile websites are not fit for purpose, but there is a solution – mobile contextual data, which enables the delivery of relevant content optimised for the device.

The opportunity

Globally, mobile e-commerce is expected to grow by an average of 35% annually between 2012 and 2017 and is predicted to reach $721bn by 2017. In the UK, IAB figures show that, in 2013, mobile accounted for 16.3% of all digital ad spend compared to 4.2% in 2011. This shift represents a huge opportunity for digital businesses.

Consumers engage on mobile devices in different ways. For example a tablet is often used for researching a product while a smartphone is used for finding local amenities. Understanding this type of difference and presenting content that is optimised for the mobile device significantly increases engagement and conversion.

Complexities of the mobile ecosystem

Taking advantage of the mobile e-commerce opportunity, however, is easier said than done. A myriad of variables such as device type, operating environment, browser type, screen size, user location, connection type (wired, mobile and wifi), and mobile carrier all need to be taken into account to efficiently and correctly present content and advertising.

What is mobile context?

Two sets of mobile context data enable mobile marketers to address this complexity and deliver relevant and optimised mobile content:

1. IP Intelligence data: determining the location, carrier and connectivity type (wired, mobile, wifi) of web visitors based purely on IP addresses, in real time.

2. Device Intelligence data: determining the device type, screen size, operating environments and capabilities of a web visitor, also in real time.

These datasets make up what is known as mobile context intelligence. Optimising mobile websites for these variables enables increased engagement of visitors from the very first interaction without opt-in barriers or utilising privacy-invasive techniques such as cookies. Mobile context intelligence is the critical first layer of any effective mobile engagement strategy.

The rewards of proper engagement

Users engage differently depending on the environment. For example, within the tourism industry, laptop and tablet users tend to research and plan a holiday before travelling. Meanwhile, smartphone usage is more convenient while on the move and users therefore tend to search for information such as nearby facilities.

Similarly, websites should serve different page weights to different visitors depending on device type. Determining connection speed and device type enables the delivery of optimum content using a particular bandwidth or ad format. In e-commerce determining the location of a visitor via their IP address allows geographically relevant content – such as language and currency – to be automatically served.

Adopting a mobile targeting strategy that incorporates mobile context intelligence enhances customer engagement and improves relevance, response and revenue.

Mobile context intelligence, delivered

To enhance mobile user engagement it is important to gather all the mobile context intelligence data at the moment of visitor arrival and act upon it. This is where mobile context intelligence data can help create the right first impression, moving visitors along the path to greater engagement. Marketers get only one chance to make a first impression – make sure it is a good one.
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