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It's official: mobile advertising works

The SpaceStation and 24.com have released the findings from their mobile study, the first of its kind in South Africa. In collaboration with Brand Metrics, a Swedish research company with extensive experience working with publishers and big brands globally, 24.com set out to measure the brand lift achieved by mobile advertising, and thereby help advertisers optimise their mobile campaigns.

While there has been phenomenal growth in the use of mobile phones – some 74% of users access the internet daily in this way – this is not yet reflected in the distribution of advertising revenue.

For example, "If you look at the page view consumption as a proportion of 24.com's total page views across our network, 85% is on mobile, with 15% of our page view consumption via desktop," says Craig Nicholson, The SpaceStation's Sales Director. "But if you look at our advertising revenue, the bulk of it is still on desktop. Why the gap? From our perspective, there is a good business case for advertising spend to start moving to the mobile channel, in terms of reach and time spent on device."

"Hence the need for research to determine the value of the mobile channel, and how to optimise advertising within it," says Gareth Lloyd, 24.com's Head of Research and Analytics.

How the research was conducted

Anders Lithner, CEO of Brand Metrics, notes that with regard to digital media, industry data has been primarily limited to measuring expenditure, reach, and sales. The closest thing to a standard metric has been the click-through; but people may be influenced by marketing without clicking anywhere.

"What we try to do is add other metrics: exposure, awareness, brand consideration, brand preference, intention to buy – in a way that's scalable and comparable between campaigns, markets and channels," he explains.

The mobile study was conducted on News24 and the other 24.com channels with Checkers, Dion Wired, FNB, Old Mutual, OUTsurance, Samsung, Shoprite, Unilever, Volkswagen and Toyota as participating brand partners.

According to Anette Hallgren, Customer Success Director for Brand Metrics, the study tracked 79 campaigns, for 11 brands. Some 26,188,383 impressions were served, with an average of 327,354 per campaign, and an average of 169,503 unique users per campaign. Most importantly, a total of 22,833 surveys were completed, with an average of 285 per campaign – "so it's quite a massive survey," notes Hallgren.

Key findings

Lloyd noted several key findings regarding the effect of mobile advertising on brand lift:
  1. Mobile advertising works in increasing all metrics in the brand relationship.
    Across 79 campaigns, mobile advertising resulted in an average brand uplift of 7.9% - specifically, 1.2% uplift in awareness of the brand; 2% in brand consideration; 2.4% in brand consideration; and 2.3% in purchase intention. That's a substantial result, given the large number of people exposed to mobile advertising.

  2. All the ad formats tested resulted in brand uplift, but in different ways.
    Static image, animated GIF, native in-feed, rich media and video formats all brought about brand uplift. However, the more creatively complex formats (e.g. video, animated GIFs) work best at the bottom of the funnel, i.e. they do best at increasing purchase intent. The less creatively complex formats (such as static images) typically work best at the top of the funnel, i.e. at increasing awareness and consideration.

  3. If advertising has multiple objectives, choose a sequence of ad formats that optimises each stage of the funnel.
    Given that different formats work better at specific stages in the consumer journey, it makes sense to take this into account in strategising a campaign.

  4. Targeting enhances the key advantage of each format.
    Using audience targeting resulted in an 18% increase in overall brand uplift, most notably with regard to increasing brand awareness and purchase intention. Using targeting amplifies the particular strength of each advertising format.

  5. CTR has no relationship with brand lift and is a poor proxy for overall brand lift effect
    Measuring clicks is pointless, at least when it comes to brand lift.
Watch this space

While the first study has produced interesting results, there is more to follow. The SpaceStation and 24.com intends to conduct ongoing research into this field on an annual basis, thereby further establishing themselves as thought leaders in the field – with the help of their collaborative partners.

"We haven’t answered all of the questions with regard to mobile and its efficacy, and how it's working in South Africa," concludes Lloyd. "This is going to be an ongoing process."

The SpaceStation's press office

The SpaceStation
The SpaceStation offers a wide range of digital marketing solutions including native advertising, video, mobile, programmatic, social, app, DMP and content marketing. Part of 24.com and the Media24 Group, The SpaceStation is Naspers' lead digital media sales house in Sub-Saharan Africa.
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