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Unfortunately, most publishers and advertisers don’t know much about their mobile customers.

Once customers leave the company’s own mobile app, they’re invisible.

  • Do they visit competitors’ apps?
  • Do they visit complementary apps?
  • Or are they doing something completely unexpected?

There’s a whole lot of information on customers’ mobile devices that can reveal their interests and behaviors… but most companies aren’t seeing it.

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“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

John Wanamaker was lamenting the budget his retail store wasted on newspaper advertising in the early 20th century.

Unfortunately, his complaint still holds true in the early 21st century: Retailers waste a lot of the money they spend on mobile advertising.

Though we should have 100 years’ more experience and more sophisticated techniques to make more informed decisions, many of the decisions retailer marketers make about where to spend money on mobile advertising are still based on guesswork.

Mobile advertising is still based on guesswork

Actionable information on how, where and when to target mobile advertising is imprecise. In many ways, retailers are completely in the dark about their mobile customers. Or at best, they are making guesses:

  • Which mobile apps are their customers using, and which ones are they ignoring?
  • What sources do they rely on?
  • When and where are these customers using their mobile devices?
  • How much time do they spend with our app vs. competitors’ apps?
  • What interests do these customers have that are complementary to ours?

With accurate answers to questions like these, retailers could attract customers much more effectively. In other words, they can stop

Retailers are guessing about what’s on their customers mobile devices: Competitive apps, complementary apps, opportunities for promotion?

Retailers are guessing about what’s on their customers mobile devices:
Competitive apps, complementary apps, opportunities for promotion?

wasting money advertising in the wrong places at the wrong time with the wrong offer.

A better way to understand mobile customers, target more effectively

Fortunately, newer technology can give retailers the answers they need. By analyzing information collected directly from their customers’ smartphones and tablets, retailers can better understand their interests and behavior.

And they can act on that information:

Smarter ad placement: Retailers can place their ads more precisely. For example, if they see that their customers are regular users of the New York Times app, the retailer can spend more on ad placements on the New York Times app. And if they see that the customer never uses their ESPN app, they can reduce their spending on those placements.

More timely promotions: Retailers can present promotions to customers when and where they are most likely to be shopping.

For example, if they could predict that a customer will be using their device between 8 and 9 AM en route from home to work, they could push ads at that time. And they can minimize their spend on ads delivered outside of that heavy usage time slot.

 More appealing offers: Retailers can present more appealing offers to their mobile customers when they better understand what other apps are sitting on the mobile device and how often they are used.

For example, if they knew that a large number of their customers frequently used a competitor’s app, the retailer could push out an offer to honor any of the competitor’s discount coupons. And the retailer could avoid pushing this offer out to customers that don’t have the competitors app installed.

Technology to bring mobile advertising into the 21st century

Solutions that allow retailers to gather and analyze this kind of data on mobile customers – information they can use to advertise more effectively – are available from companies like Marlin Mobile.   Accurate information on mobile users’ interests and behavior can help them better segment their customers and be smarter about where they spend their advertising budget.

After all, maxims about the wasteful ad spending from 100 years ago should not still apply in the 21st century.

 

Faithful readers of this blog have gotten this message loud & clear: a successful mobile website or application needs speed.

To satisfy your customers, readers & advertisers, your mobile site needs to load and run quickly and consistently across multiple devices, operating systems, carriers and locations. A slow site loses customers and readers.

Who shares the real estate with you?

But a successful mobile site depends on more than your performance. It also depends on your site’s neighbors.

Your mobile site or app sits cheek by jowl with lots of other mobile sites and apps on a user’s smartphone or tablet. And those other sites that share that small bit of real estate matter to the success of your site.

A simple example can illustrate this painful truth:

If you’re the one and only airline app sitting on a user’s mobile device, the chances are pretty good that you’ll get tapped when that user needs to make travel plans.

But if you’re one of two dozen travel-related apps sprinkled around the screen, your chances of a visit aren’t quite so good.

The same principal applies if your mobile site is about sports, news, shopping, games, whatever. The more crowded your neighborhood, the more difficult it is to attract attention.

So while you’re looking at your own site – measuring speed, installs/uninstalls, traffic, sales, etc. – it makes sense to look at the sites around yours as well.

You can learn a lot from the neighbors

With the proper tools, you can figure out if they’re competitors to you, or if they offer complementary services. Does your airline site sit next to other airline sites, or is to sitting amongst sites on European vacation destinations?

By checking out the neighboring apps, you can learn more about the people who have installed your own app. If your app serves up sports information, seeing that a user has the New York Yankees app sitting next to yours on their phone, tells you something useful about your customer’s specific interests.

Or if you sell sporting goods, that kind of information would be useful in presenting attractive offers… let’s say for baseball jerseys and caps with the Yankees logo.

Here’s the bottom line: Knowing how well your own mobile app and website is performing is essential. But it’s not all you need to know. Understanding the neighborhood – what other apps and sites are sitting next to yours – is critical to your success as well.

 

Your mobile app is not alone.

It sits alongside lots of other mobile apps and sites on a user’s smartphone or tablet. Depending on where in the world the user lives, your app could be sharing that space with two or three dozen other apps.

Of course, companies should care about the performance of their own apps: How can we make them faster, easier to use, and more attractive?

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