Most mobile ads in 2012 didn’t offer a purchase option according to a new report by Millennial Media. In its annual review of data from its mobile ad platform, Millennial found that just 16 percent of ads included an m-commerce component after viewers clicked on them.
Ads were focused on brand promotion and generation of website traffic, with downloads the most common type of user action offered. While spending on mobile ads on the Millennial Media network is more than doubling annually in many sectors, the data highlights the difficulties advertisers are facing in generating sales and evaluating the performance of their mobile ad initiatives.
Mobile ads represent a challenge because of the limited amount of screen real estate available on mobile platforms, and because mobile users are typically engaged in different activities than desktop computer users. When someone on a desktop computer searches for a product and views an ad, the viewer is interested in the product and may make a purchase online. When a platform shows mobile ads to people playing games, engaged in social media or in another mobile activity, they are not necessarily interested in what is being offered. Even if a viewer makes a purchase, it may be in a store he is visiting, and it is difficult to link such a purchase with the mobile ads.
Advertisers have had some success in linking ads to location or to searches for a particular location. Ads for events, such as Major League Baseball games, which include an option to purchase tickets can be effective, as can ads linked to a date such as Mother’s Day. In each case, an m-commerce option offering a particular product or service for online purchase when the viewer clicks the ad allows the advertiser to track purchases and obtain quantifiable data for return-on-investment evaluations.
Even if the viewer does not make an immediate online purchase, an attractive offer may encourage a later purchase, either online or through other channels. Some companies have successfully leveraged the ads that include m-commerce by adding a coupon valid at a retail location if the viewer does not exercise the m-commerce option. While the advertiser no longer receives the data from the online ad if the viewer makes an independent purchase, the coupon helps establish a link and still results in an increase in sales.
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