How to set up a winning mobile marketing campaign

This year, users worldwide have spent more than 2.8 of their 9.9 hours of their digital media time a day on mobile. That’s equivalent to watching the entire series of Breaking Bad in just over 20 days, or all 10 seasons of Friends in a month!

Nearly everything we do is on the go (as you read this on your mobile device) and nothing is telling us that this trend is slowing down. It’s quite the opposite. Here are some stats to consider:

  • According to Gartner, there will be over 2 billion mobile devices in 2016.
  • eMarketer predicts 2016 is mobile’s breakthrough year, claiming 51% of the digital market
    • 50% growth from 2015
    • Penetrating through the $100 billion mark
    • An incredible 430% increase from 2013
    • Going on to nearly double by 2019 to account for over 70% of total digital ad spend  

I’ve been working in the mobile space since 2009 and sales and marketing for 14 years, tasked with developing and implementing opportunities within agencies and  networks, app developers, and startups that help them succeed with their challenges and expand their business.

Since starting at HasOffers by TUNE, leading their sales in Europe, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting my clients all over Europe; sipping espresso with the Italians, paella with Spaniards, croissants with the French, waffles with Belgians , bratwurst with the Germans, and of course, a nice cold beer with my fellow Englishmen.

Some say Europeans are all very different, but when it comes to the conversations I’ve had in 2015, they were very much in sync. Here are my top three hot topics for 2015 and what I see trending next year:

Mobile Tracking: Do I need an SDK for that?

App developers now understand the mobile ecosystem enough to know that they don’t need to install a network’s SDK to receive their traffic—that was just a way to look for the network to deter them from moving away with the extra resources and costs in switching them out.

The roles were finally reversed and networks had to find a way to run mobile campaigns without additional SDKs to keep track of their conversions. Their options were to build in-house or use a third-party solution.

The amount of conversations I’ve had over espressos, wine, and beers about in-house solutions versus third-party solutions made me slightly light-headed and slur my words.  (I swear it’s the complexity of the subject matter, and not the alcohol!) But one thing that I do remember was that for the very few who did opt for their own solution, I always recommended they ask themselves “Will it cause me to deviate from my main business? Is the amount of time and resources it will take to build and maintain an in-house system worth it? Will I have all the features I need to analyse and optimise in real-time?” If the answer to one or more of these questions is “yes”, then the short-term solution to trying to build in-house could prevent you from scaling your business.

When looking for a third-party solution for your mobile tracking, mobile apps, or mobile web, it’s important to find a provider that moves away from the traditional pixel-based tracking we’re used to seeing on desktop. Why? Pixel tracking relies on placing a cookie on the user’s browser and when the conversion occurs, the pixel will look to collect information from the cookie. The problem with the pixel tracking method is that users have the ability to delete their history, not accept the website’s cookie terms and conditions, and some browsers even have private or incognito mode, which have their own tracking prevention built-in. These pixel tracking issues are even more prominent in the mobile space. Similar to private browsing or incognito mode, mobile browsers are notorious for blocking or deleting cookies. Pixel tracking for apps is just incredibly messy and a total fail on the user-experience side.

The best form of tracking is server postback, as it’s the most reliable and accurate. This is also what HasOffers by TUNE recommends to their clients for mobile tracking. Sam Armour from BluePod Media told me they  have “seen an uplift in conversions of between 15-20% just from using a more reliable tracking solution.” Also known as postback tracking, server-side tracking, server-to-server tracking (S2S) tracking. Why is it more reliable? This form of tracking doesn’t rely on any cookies being dropped on the user’s browser, a postback URL is fired from a Web server directly.

Manuel Jaffrin, Founder & COO of GetApp mentioned that HasOffers tracking allows his team  to stay focused on our core business. He said, “We have no worries about tracking reliability or accuracy. We trust in the HasOffers platform—It has given us peace of mind and provided us with the stability we needed over the years to grow our business. We feel very confident about the future.”

Business Models: Look beyond the install

During my last trip to Berlin, I took a client out for a few drinks, which then turned into dinner. We started window shopping a couple of restaurants’ menus, both had similar dishes, similar prices, and similar ratings on travel review sites. How do we decide which to go to? We decided to flip a coin. We realized neither of us had any cash and the restaurant we stood outside of had a sign saying “CASH ONLY!”. No need to flip that coin now; the decision was made for us.

It got me thinking: Do advertisers flip coins when deciding between similar ad partners?

There’s thousands of ad partners out there and without industry standards, it’s difficult to know which of these ad partners would be best to work with, especially if they all agree to work on their cost per install (CPI). TUNE developed a list of mobile marketing best practices for integrated advertising partners to adhere to. It provides marketers the visibility into which advertising partners support mobile marketing best practices, enabling them to make informed decisions and achieve their marketing goals. It’s  called the Certified Partner Program. Playdot’s (developer of DOTS) head of marketing, Christian Calderon told us, “The TUNE certified partner program helps provide unbiased mobile marketing standards that I can use to ensure I’m always working with quality advertising partners.”

With install costs continuously rising, advertisers are forced to compete for the best quality users in order to meet their ROI targets. Ad partners are now comfortable with offering cost per install (CPI) as a business model. I always suggest that my clients come out their comfort zones and look beyond the install as a way of understanding their clients’ needs more.

There’s estimated to be around 180 billion apps downloaded from app stores worldwide in 2015 and over 167 billion of those apps are free to download. For most mobile advertisers, the install is yet another stage in the sales funnel. It might be closer to their objective than an impression or click, therefore worth more, but it’s still no guarantee that install will drive an engaged user that will achieve their objective (like an in-app purchase). Being as transparent as possible with your partners shows commitment and helps you stand out from your competition. As Calderon told TUNE, “As a data-minded marketer, working with multiple marketing sources, I need to be able to make immediate data-driven decisions to meet my ROI goals.”

A third-party solution can provide ad partners the flexibility to offer any mobile business model they please, not just CPA or CPI. This means the third-party solution needs to be able to track and collect post-install data, including the in-app purchases to work on cost per sale (CPS) models.

Having the ability to create end points for any goal that you or your advertiser are looking to achieve from an app install, in-app  or mobile web purchase, are therefore essential.

I mentioned transparency, and it is key to achieving a successful mobile campaign. In order to provide transparency, you need data. In order to collect data, you need a tracking solution that can collect, measure, and pass as many mobile data points as possible upon both click and conversion. Why? The further down the funnel you go, the bigger the cost risk you put upon yourself, rather than your client—they appreciate that. If you have all the conversion points along the way, you can optimize your campaigns to achieve better conversion rates and increase your return on investment (ROI).

Mobile Optimisation: Data, data data

When speaking to companies this year it was quite common to hear that they’re using a system that only provides them with a click ID, which relates to the offer and the publisher. They didn’t have access to see statistical data about their conversion rates from click to action or any additional touch points they want to track leading up to that conversion, nor did they any receive device data.

Optimising campaigns is essential in order to increase performance. The difference between one ad partner’s ability to drive better results can come from the ability to analyse data. It sounds obvious, but the more data collected, the deeper the ability to analyse and optimise to increase performance, leading to a better ROI.

My most successful clients are utilising all of the above to make sure they’re running successful mobile marketing campaigns for their clients. The main things to think about are:

  • Use a reliable mobile tracking protocol — This is essential to reduce discrepancies and get paid out on all your conversions.
  • Be flexible with your business models — understand your client’s objective and think beyond the install.
  • Collect as much data as possible — This will help you to optimize and increase performance. ROI is the name of the game!

Looking to take your mobile campaigns to the next level in 2016? I think the trends we’ll see next year are:

  • TV app and other social apps opening up for monetization; Snapchat and Pinterest.
  • YouTubers and social influencers will become more utilized by ad partners.
  • More widespread view-through attribution.
  • Multi-touch attribution will become much more of a reality for ad partners.
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