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American Express mobile advertising campaign generates 95pc view-to-completion rate

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April 15, 2013

NEW YORK – An American Express executive at the 2013 IAB Mobile Marketplace last week said that a campaign with SessionM created a value exchange between the brand and consumers, as well as highlighted the labor challenges in developing bespoke mobile advertising units.

The American Express executive dished on what works and what does not work in mobile during the “Keynote Conversation: Where We Are and Where We’re Going” session. The session was moderated by Lars Albright, cofounder/CEO of SessionM, Boston.

“We work with SessionM and we are able to create a great little value exchange with people that actually drove a 95 percent view-to-completion rate and a 24 percent click-through rate – those things were very much optimized for the mobile environment,” said Lou Paskalis, vice president of global media content development and mobile marketing at American Express, New York.

“They’re bespoke – they took a little bit longer to build than I would have normally liked, and I think that is one of the challenges that we have to really program for native,” he said.

“It’s a labor of love right now. We need to find ways to still be taking advantage of native environments but also streamline.”

Mobile relevance
American Express also works closely with Apple on its mobile advertising campaigns.

The session highlighted different iAd executions that American Express has used, including a campaign to promote the company’s Small Business Saturday to educate consumers on the importance of shopping in small businesses. The campaign generated a 2x lift in brand relevance, per Mr. Paskalis.

Additionally, the Small Business Saturday ad led to half a million add-to-calendar reminders.

Another ad campaign encouraged American Express cardmembers to donate points to several different charities.

The final iAd execution was part of American Express’ early on sale program, which lets cardmembers buy concert tickets. Via a mobile banner ad, consumers could buy tickets to a Kenny Chesney concert.

According to Mr. Paskalis, these ads collectively drew one-quarter of a million hours of time spent.

“Each of those was a little bespoke and each of those took a little bit longer to create than a print ad but in the end, but we are really able to drive behaviors and we are really able to drive brand outcomes that are positive, and that is how we are rationalizing the ROI today because we don’t have some of the other metrics that we would really like to have,” Mr. Paskalis said.

Digital engagement
Although consumers increasingly have more screens available to them, it also means that consumers have more opportunities to skip ads that are not relevant to them.

That means that brands need to start thinking more like marketers and less like pure play advertisers.

At American Express, there is a mantra that says, “Add value, don’t make noise.” The idea behind this is to enhance the consumer experience or engage them in a way that has utility tied to it.

A big part of American Express’ mobile and digital initiatives center around narrative storytelling, from both marketing and consumer perspectives.

The richness and dimension behind this story is tough to pack inside an ad though, which opens up some opportunities with native advertising.

In mobile, native advertising is not just about the creative. Understanding the environment, needs and signals of users are equally important.

Interactive shopping
As the average consumer time spent on mobile increases, marketers have the opportunity to target consumers with relevant messages.

American Express did some experiments last year with Comcast and Fox to leverage the second-screen environment.

For example, fans of the Bravo’s television show “Life After Top Chef” could download the second-screen Zeebox app. American Express cardmembers could receive special offers and shop via the app.

Mr. Paskalis said that American Express did not sell a lot of merchandise via the initiative. Instead, the effort was more of an initiative to see how consumers would respond to shopping from their mobile devices.

The American Express executive said that the company might have gotten ahead of itself with this, simply because it was the first time that consumers could buy things off of TV and required consumers to go through a few steps.

“For us, we really think this is where the puck is going,” Mr. Paskalis said.

“So you have the context of TV in a lean-back environment where consumers will respond to stimuli,” he said.

“You have the ability to deliver content against that context if you are meta tagging if you are smart and a little bit creative. And you also will have the ability to drive commerce — creating that opportunity off of a mobile screen is very exciting to us.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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