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How to measure mobile advertising success

April 11, 2011

By Paul Childs

Paul Childs is chief operations officer of Adfonic

The success of mobile advertising typically has been measured predominantly by the number of clicks that a campaign generates.

It is inevitable that, as with any online campaign, a small percentage of these clicks will be accidental. But the question of how high this percentage is has recently become a bone of contention in the industry, with some figures suggesting that it is as much as 50 percent.

These figures are not difficult to disprove through some simple analysis of user behavior post-click.

If mobile advertising campaigns generate such a high number of accidental and worthless clicks to an advertiser, we would expect to see post-click stats perform poorly. And on the contrary, we know the reverse to be true.

The measure of clicks
Methods to track activity and prove the value of mobile advertising post-click are becoming increasingly sophisticated and the evidence is there that shows mobile audiences are going on to actively engage with brands and perform pre-specified actions beyond the initial click.

There are several ways of measuring the success of a campaign post-click.

Mobile ad networks offer full post-click measurement with the ability to track application installs and measure conversions post-click on mobile sites, along with the capability to measure the real success of click-to-video campaigns.

App install tracking enables advertisers to measure not only how many times their iPhone or Android application is clicked on, but also the number of downloads and first opens that are generated post-click.

This information provides visibility into exactly how much an advertiser is paying for each app download.

Similarly, post-click conversion tracking for mobile sites allows advertisers to specify and track predefined actions – conversions – performed by a user once she has arrived at a mobile site.

This enables the advertiser to assess performance from impression through to conversion and to establish their cost per conversion.

Additionally, click-to-video campaigns that allow the advertiser to see how long a user spent viewing their video enables them to gauge the true value of the click.

It is important that mobile networks provide advertisers with the right key performance indicators to facilitate the ability to work to cost per acquisition (CPA), cost per lead (CPL), cost per install (CPI) and cost per download (CPD) targets, and to see that these targets are being delivered through a cost-per-click (CPC) campaign.

This level of transparency provides advertisers with the performance visibility that they need to see how well their ads are performing.

The ability to do this in real time and optimize campaigns as they run in much the same way that advertisers are used to with online campaigns, is key to maximizing the volumes of high performing clicks, hitting CPA targets and ultimately driving up ROI.

This drive to measure mobile campaigns with the same transparency as online has resulted in online standards making inroads in mobile advertising.

Mobile on track
Third-party ad serving technologies such as Atlas and DoubleClick that track when a user clicks on a third-party ad tag are gaining traction within mobile and will continue to instill greater confidence in mobile advertising measurement.

There will inevitably be some clicks that are generated by accident with all mobile display campaigns.

But there are measures that advertisers can take to increase the proportion of high-value clicks versus accidental clicks.

Relevancy is vital, and mobile advertising networks work closely with publishers to ensure that ad placements are relevant to the user.

This is not only in terms of the channel and context of the surrounding content, but also by employing sophisticated mechanisms such as geo-targeting to increase relevancy.

Ensuring that ads are served to a highly targeted audience with a high propensity to click on the ad in question reduces the percentage of overall clicks that are generated accidentally.

It is this increasing ability to fine-tune targeting to drive high-value clicks, combined with improved transparency to measure mobile ad campaign performance from impression to conversion that is encouraging more brands to come on board and increase their mobile advertising budgets. Proof, if any more were needed, that mobile advertising delivers relevant and valuable clicks.

Paul Childs is chief operations officer at Adfonic, London. Reach him at

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