'Mobile, what a year!' by Ben Phillips

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Mobile, what a year!

When the dust settles on 2016, mobile ad spend is set to hit the $100bn mark. Mobile now accounts for over 50% of digital ad spend.

In 2017, the prediction is that this will further increase by 33.9%, bringing mobile ad spend to $133bn and taking up 75% of digital advertising spend.

Here are some of the many highlights that came our way in 2016, with a look ahead to what 2017 may have in store for us.

Ad Blocking

Ad Blocking may have been around for years, but in 2016 it got a place in the limelight. Bad creative, bad placement, and bad audience targeting were all responsible for the increase of blocking software.

It highlighted that the public didn’t necessarily hate adverts, they just didn’t like bad ones (which pushes best practice and mobile-first creative higher up the agenda).

But the blockers didn’t stop there. Eyeo GmbH, the company that creates Ad Block Plus, noted that 90% of its 100 million users would be willing to view “Acceptable ads”.

Its plans to sell ads has ruffled more than a few publisher feathers.

Vertical Video

98% of us opted for a more vertical viewpoint this year. Why? Because platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat became second nature, and consumers started to expect the same practice elsewhere.

Brands also realised that 90% of us viewed these videos in a mute state, requiring brands to create mobile content that looked more like silent movies.

Brands also had to consider attention spans and how to convey a message within eight seconds. This is important as extending this goldfish-like engagement rate by two further seconds increases brand recall four-fold and intent to purchase three-fold.

Virtual Reality

As a member of the mobile jury at Cannes Lions this year, we gave the Grand Prix to the New York Times for creating VR specific content and distributing 1.8 million Google Cardboard devices to its subscribers.

VR was launched with much fanfare at MWC 2016, and could represent the virtual future of mobile advertising. Our industry’s ability to lower the cost of production for hardware and creative will define whether VR migrates from a high-end, hardware dependent experience to a more pervasive user experience. Advertisers love reach, so if the latter comes to pass then all of us will have to learn to speak VR.


More and more devices can now be digitally connected. From the Internet of Cows at MWC to the consumer-facing thermostatic and home security controls, connections are growing rapidly. Even the humble toothbrush joined the ranks of the connected fridge and car this year.

Pokémon GO

Launched in July 2016, Pokémon GO took the world by storm, with 500 million downloads. With 20 million daily users and amassing $600m in-app purchases, Pokémon put AR on the map and reached unprecedented scale for a mobile game.

Apple has taken the pocket monsters to heart, revealing its partnership with Niantic in September and announcing the release of an Apple Watch version of the game.

Looking ahead…

It’s important to adopt this mantra in 2017: “Mobile is a behaviour, not a device”. As part of your new year’s resolutions you should be considering mobile as part of every campaign that you run.

Machine Learning

Using technology to bring together multiple points of data to make faster, better and more targeted decisions isn’t a new concept, but it’s now starting to deliver amazing results as we learn to harness information.

Combined with a better understanding of the mobile consumer, multiple platforms, and exciting new advertising formats, this is a dynamic space that should grow rapidly.

This will become second nature to all aspects of digital, but mobile will hold a particularly strong card thanks to its ability to provide real-time and historic consumer location as well as app install data that can be combined to create a consumer fingerprint.

Messaging Bots

The ability to carry out direct conversations thanks to Artificial Intelligence is appealing to both brands and consumers. It’s become even more useful when consumers move past the urge to break bots by asking them ridiculous questions. They can and will find a niche for many.

IOT & Voice Search

Nothing sums up consumer attitudes to the Internet of Things better than this article in the Guardian by Mark Rittman, a data specialist who spent 11 hours trying to operate a kettle remotely in order to make a cup of tea.

More effective options are available in the form of the entertainment and life concierge solutions from Amazon and Google. Echo offers more functionality than the Google Home device thanks to a wealth of third party applications that enable voice commands to trigger events, controls and reminders.

Voice search has more than doubled in the last year, 41% of mobile searches in the US now start with a voice query. This creates some creative challenges for brands and advertisers to solve as this behaviour spreads around the world.

While the likes of Siri and Google are still very linear in the search terms that they recognise, providers such as Sound Hound are enabling multiple queries at a time, and the ability to respond to results for a more natural experience.


A recent report from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) pointed out that Albania and Peru have better mobile phone coverage that the UK, with “Too many digital deserts” ranking the UK 54th in the world for 4G coverage.

Putting pressure on the British Government to make sure that text, talk and data are available wherever needed will enable brands to take a big step forward and ensure that video and rich media advertising can actually be viewed.

The successor to 4G is 5G, which will offer greater speeds, although its technical details are still being worked out. It won’t actually arrive until 2021, so there is still a lot of work to be done with the existing data services.

Measurement and Viewability

With Facebook announcing not once, not twice, but three times that it had been giving an inflated number for the average time being spent on viewing online video clips, there’s a lot to be said for not relying on publishers’ counting methodologies and essentially marking their own homework.

The Media Ratings Council (MRC) suspended Google’s accreditation of DFP (DoubleClick for Publishers) mobile including Display, Video, and Rich Media Ad Impression Serving.

The main reason was that DFP counts a mobile impression when the ad server is called rather than when the ad renders, which is the MRC definition. DCM is another platform that has not been accredited for mobile impression counting against the revised mobile guidelines.

Third-party, MRC-accredited measurement is achievable and available through Medialets, a WPP company, that has seen success with several of our brands this year. Being able to reduce around 30% of media wastage is something to be proud of as we strive to be best in mobile as a network.

New Buying Formats

Mobile has the opportunity to break free of traditional business models, measurements and habits. It can and will set new rules for consumer engagement in 2017.

We are already testing location AI techniques with our global location partner Blis. Advertisers will choose their target locations for their campaign, and Blis Futures will determine the audience that will most likely be driven into a store or location.

Blis Futures’ campaign’s performance will be measured on a Cost Per Footfall (CPF) metric and clients will only be charged once those consumers go into or to the targeted location.

This is an example of more relevant ways in which the effectiveness and billing of mobile campaigns will start to look in 2017.

What will 2017 look like for mobile?

There’s a popular misconception that mobile is hard or complicated. It isn’t. In 2017 my focus will be firmly on building the foundation that mobile has provided and future proofing all that can possibly arrive in the new year.

Having worked in the mobile space for 14 years, I look forward to the next year being even more “disruptive” than this year. There’s a genuine interest in mobile from all corners of the ecosystem and today we have even more examples of best practice and surprising results.

Mobile is pervasive across all areas of media and its adoption is rapid. Mobile maturity is being observed across all markets and brand sectors as the consumer continues to drive development. Yesterday’s impossible is today’s possible.

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Partner Spotlight: Q&A with RSi’s Ansa


Partner Spotlight: Q&A with RSi’s Ansa

Question 1: How long have you been at RSi and what is your role?
For the past three years, I have been responsible for creating and scaling Ansa, a web-based solution from RSi – Retail Solutions, Inc., that has enabled over 75 of the world’s largest CPG companies and their agencies to build, measure and maximize the performance of their shopper marketing campaigns running in support of the nation’s leading retailers. I am responsible for all aspects of business development, partner and agency relationships and the overall revenue growth of Ansa.

Question 2: How does RSi help solve marketer challenges?
Shopper marketers’ biggest challenge is to connect their online campaigns to in-store results. RSi’s Ansa solution provides the intelligence they need, based on daily, store-level POS-data from the largest US retailers in order to plan, target, and measure the impact of their shopper marketing campaigns. Retail Solutions Inc. has partnered with the leading ad networks in Shopper Marketing, such as Blis, to make Ansa’s automated analytics available for the world’s largest CPG companies and their agencies. To measure and maximize their digital ad campaigns, all they need to do is ask for Ansa inside their next campaign.

Question 3: What benefits does the partnership with Blis bring to buyers as well as the adtech ecosystem?
With RSi’s Ansa solution, building, dynamically optimizing, and reviewing attribution measures for every digital ad campaign has never been so simple. Here is how it works:
1. STORE-LEVEL TARGETING: automatically get from Ansa your store targeting data as store addresses, lat/longs or by Ansa Digital ZIPs to identify stores with the greatest sales potential prior to launching hyper-local media.
2. IN-FLIGHT OPTIMIZATION: see in real-time how sales are trending in your targeted stores vs. a 52-week historical average, and get access to dynamic optimization lists that can guide budget reallocation.
3. MEASUREMENT & INSIGHTS: get access via the online portal to end of campaign analysis just days after the media campaign is over. Visualizations give you a standardized set of analytics, such as sales lift, incremental dollars and units, confidence level, weekly lift, characteristics of high performing stores, etc. Prove and improve your media to help you fine-tune strategies for your future campaigns.

Question 4: What are use cases for the Blis + RSi partnership? (Please provide a few examples from different verticals).
If you are a shopper marketer, maximizing your budgets, understanding performance of your marketing tactics and generating key learnings from those marketing tactics are tasks that are essential to your business.

Running a digital marketing campaign with Blis, and Ansa’s daily, store-level sales intelligence helps make that extremely for the CPG community and shopper marketers specifically.

For existing products, Blis campaigns using Ansa targeting can reach a targeting efficiency of 2:1 vs. campaigns that do not use Ansa store-level targeting thereby ensuring that every dollar is spent driving sales to your most important retailer locations.

Blis campaigns optimized with Ansa typically identify and heavy up investment around 16% of stores that are trending significantly ahead of the average store during a campaign and identify and decrease investment around 14% of stores that are trending significantly behind the average store, therefore ensuring that your budget is being optimized surrounding stores that are over-performing during a given campaign.

After each Blis campaign, Ansa automatically generates measurement of Featured Item Lift and Halo Item Lift at both the total event and week levels. Results are completed 5 business days after the end of each campaign and allow you to learn quickly and improve continuously, all at an amazingly affordable price.

Question 5: What shopper marketing measurement trends do you predict for 2018?
Optimization in-flight based on store sales trends during campaign. Optimizing on engagement, intent and / or clicks may be ok for some campaigns but more and more frequently shopper marketers are tasked with driving sales at their most important retailers. And understanding how their marketing tactics performed 5-6 weeks after a campaign has finished is just not fast enough anymore in today’s fast paced world and puts media providers at a severe disadvantage. By utilizing automated reporting that allows Ansa partners like Blis to understand and optimize their media in-flight based on daily, store-level POS sales data you now empower your media partner to act on supporting the stores that are driving your product sales which can ultimately provide a powerful boost to a shopper marketing campaign.

Question 6: If there was one piece of content you think every marketer should read, what is it?
(Other than this blog post of course!)

Think with Google and Facebook IQ are two fantastic sources of resources. Articles, trends, case studies, POVs, insights, etc… pretty much everything you need to read to keep you up-to-speed in this very fast-paced environment.

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Meet, Greet and Keep: How Mobile Can Help Brands Throughout the Sales Funnel


Meet, Greet and Keep: How Mobile Can Help Brands...

Our mobile devices give us more than just a way to call or text friends and family: Today, they are our maps, books, radios, and miniature shopping malls. We turn to them for news, entertainment and answers. And from dawn till dusk, we keep them at our sides like our most faithful companions.

So it’s no wonder mobile devices have become integral to an advertiser’s ability to reach their ideal audiences at every stage of the sales funnel. Here’s how brands can employ effective mobile advertising strategies to acquire, engage and retain customers.

Win Over New Customers

One of the best ways for advertisers to identify new audiences is to see where they shop. But without access to a competitor’s first-party purchase data or information about their website traffic, how can advertisers find this out?

Mobile devices provide the answer. By revealing where consumers go, mobile location data can tell brands which consumers spend their time browsing similar products at a competitor’s store. Let’s say Target wants to reach out to consumers who usually shop at Walmart. They can use location data to identify—then target—those who frequently visit the competitor yet still live near a Target store.

But brands need to be careful before jumping to conclusions about consumers. Real-time location data provides important insights, but they can be strengthened when paired with historical location data.

For example, just because someone visits a high-end boutique like Chanel, it doesn’t mean that person has the budget to shop there—they could just be browsing. How can an upscale fashion brand find out which of those Chanel visitors are actually potential shoppers? Here, historical location data can help. It can reveal, for instance, which of those visitors go to private airports a few times a month or regularly visit Giorgio Armani or Versace stores. Chances are, these consumers will be a better bet for the fashion brand seeking to acquire new customers.

Keep Them Interested

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? For most of us, it’s look at our phones to turn off our alarms before checking the weather and scrolling through our Twitter feeds. And throughout the day, we continue to stare down into the faces of our mobile devices: checking the news on the train, sending an email between meetings, or watching videos from our living room sofas.

In order to engage consumers on the devices we use day in and day out, advertisers will need to serve ads that make sense for the consumer depending on where they are during the day. To do this, advertisers must first ask the question: What do consumers want to see on their mobile devices and when? Consumers spend a third of their time online watching videos, for instance, but they aren’t going to watch a 30-second video ad while walking down the street.

To boost engagement, brands can use knowledge about a consumer’s historical and real-time whereabouts to reach out at the time and place that will produce the greatest level of engagement. To effectively grab the attention of a consumer that’s out and about, a banner ad may work best. Later that evening, when the consumer is at home using a tablet or laptop, a longer video on a larger screen may work well.

Inspire Loyalty

How can brands make sure they retain the new and existing customers they’ve worked so hard to gain? They must first recognize and show appreciation for their most loyal customers.

Most advertisers identify loyal customers by looking at newsletter subscriptions and online purchase histories, but they may be missing other valuable customers who prefer to shop in stores. By identifying devices that frequently visit a brand’s store location, advertisers can make sure they are recognizing—and thanking—all their biggest fans. When an existing customer comes into a store a certain number of times, for example, advertisers can deliver a thank-you message—perhaps offering the loyal customer a generous coupon to redeem in-store.

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Retailers’ Golden Ticket to Reviving Brick and Mortar Stores


Retailers’ Golden Ticket to Reviving Brick and Mortar Stores

Interested in understanding how to connect mobile experiences to physical stores? Or how mobile can be the extension of a retailer’s store? Maybe you’ve wondered about the new Cost-Per-Visit metric? Look no further. Blis’ location data experts will be answering these questions on a weekly basis over the next few months in our ‘Retail Series’ which aims to equip retail marketers with the right insights and top tips to stay ahead of the game.

Following its decision to buy e-commerce company Jet.com last year, Walmart recently agreed to acquire Bonobos, a retailer with a strong online presence and generous shipping policies. If these moves weren’t sign enough that the physical and digital retail worlds are merging, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is the ultimate wake-up call.

Retailers everywhere are realizing that while brick and mortar stores are still critical, they’ll need a strong digital strategy to keep them filled with happy customers. Mobile devices are retailers’ golden ticket to connecting with consumers and reviving in-store shopping.

Understanding Consumers though Mobile

Whether they are going to work or going shopping, consumers carry their phones with them wherever they go. As a result, mobile devices provide retailers with a constant stream of valuable consumer insights. GPS and Wi-Fi data can tell retailers, for instance, whether a consumer is at a desktop at work, connected to Wi-Fi at home, or walking past a retailer’s store.

Beyond real-time location data, retailers can use historical location data to understand a consumer’s habits. For example, some consumers might visit a luxury jewelry brand on Fifth Avenue just to browse, even if they have no intention (or monetary means!) of buying. Thus, for that specific retailer, in-store visits may not indicate ideal customers. Instead, that luxury retailer can look at historical location data to identify their ideal consumers: perhaps individuals who frequently stay at the Four Seasons Hotel or regularly check in to exclusive country clubs.

But retailers shouldn’t rely on mobile data alone. By layering mobile insights with other valuable sources of data, advertisers can gain a holistic picture of their perfect audiences. Data collected from laptops, for instance, can reveal browsing histories and online shopping patterns; however, consumers won’t be opening up their laptops while shopping in stores. The trick is for retailers to match the data across devices to unique mobile device IDs. Only then will they gain a more holistic understanding of consumers and will be able to target or retarget them with products they are likely to go buy.

Driving Foot Traffic Creatively

Once they’ve gotten a clear and thorough understanding of their ideal audiences, how can retailers use mobile devices to drive foot traffic? Proximity targeting—delivering ads to consumers when they come within a certain distance of a store location—is a common approach. Retailers can maximize the power of proximity targeting by crafting unique and imaginative creatives.

For instance, advertisers can deliver ads to shoppers already in the area to tell them about an in-store sale, or offer them a coupon they can only redeem in person. Retailers can also deliver ads that feature a handy map telling consumers how to find their store.

Sometimes, targeting consumers when they are walking by a store may be a little too late. A QSR wanting to boost its 10 am breakfast crowd, for instance, may want to target consumers when they wake up around 7a and begin planning their day. Otherwise, the consumer has most likely already made their breakfast choice.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for retailers looking to connect with consumers and drive in-store sales, a strong mobile strategy is key. As the digital and physical worlds continue to blend, retailers must harness the insights and capabilities of mobile to reach their unique brand objectives.

Tune in next week to read all about how mobile is fast becoming the extension of a retailer’s store.

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