Mobile spend up with caveats


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The world's biggest advertisers are increasing their use of mobile despite clear concerns about the medium's inability to demonstrate return on investment.

Research by the World Federation of Advertisers shows that budgets are rising, with all companies surveyed planning to increase mobile marketing investment.

Many, however, describe current efforts as still in “test and learn” phase as they attempt to work out how to make mobile messages and offers appealing and assign the channel a clear role in their marketing hierarchy.

Forty-three percent of those surveyed said that the lack of demonstrable return was a barrier for effective mobile marketing.

The results are based on responses from 22 companies and are believed to be indicative of behaviour at all multinationals in WFA membership.

The survey shows that on average mobile now accounts for 5% of interactive budgets but nearly 10% of respondents are in the 11-20% range – in 2009, when the WFA last asked members about mobile marketing, no respondents spent that much.

Much of the money is being invested in mobile apps, with 95% of respondents using them in the last 12 months, more than double the figure from 2009. However, feedback from individual WFA marketers indicates that despite such investment, brands find it “almost impossible” to ensure their app attracts regular usage.

SMS messaging also remains important at 57%, although it is down from 64%. Another area to gain has been QR codes, which are up from 17% to 38%.

Most respondents are looking to use mobile platforms to drive engagement, reach consumers at the right time, right place or offering money off coupons. Scores for engagement at 82% of respondents and couponing at 59% are both significantly up, compared to 65% and 46% respectively in 2009.

The downside of investment in mobile is, of course, the arrival of a host of new KPIs for marketers to manage, adding to already dangerous levels of data overload.

The top two measures are measuring app/content download or ad click through (up 45% and 37% respectively at 75% and 65%). The KPI suffering the biggest fall in popularity was mobile web page views, still tracked by 30% of the sample but down from 50% in 2009.

Marketers struggle with the fragmented mobile landscape, lack of reliable metrics and the failure to demonstrate a clear return on investment. The biggest barrier, however, is lack of agency knowledge and experience at 62%, although this has improved slightly from a 66% score in 2009.

The WFA's mobile research builds on early research into digital KPIs, the results of which can be found here:

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