Blog post

Why Mobile Analytics Matters

By Martin Kihn | October 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

Marketing

We’re well past the Year of Mobile and into the New Society: the one where people and devices are never really parted and mobile marketing analytics is just marketing analytics with an extra “m” for, well, “mojo.”

You spend more than two hours a day staring at your phones. To be more specific, you spent about 141 minutes using your mobile device in 2013, up from just 20 minutes five years ago. That’s 121 extra minutes (2 hours, people) you somehow discovered unencumbered or stole from daydreams, reading, doing one thing at a time. Most of that time is spent gaming and drifting through Facebook, of course.

But not all. Holiday shopping on smartphones and tablets is projected to skyrocket 53%. Time spent looking at app ads is up 21%. Meanwhile, brands from Walgreens to Toyota are busily mining mobile data for insights into refill patterns and finding people in the market for a new ride. And it’s no wonder mobile analytics startups are on the hunt for data scientists.

Since marketing money follows people, it’s also not surprising to see mobile ad spend rising. Facebook crossed the 50% line this year, and in fact most of its revenue growth is coming from mobile ads. (Twitter is 81% mobile ad-fueled.) Which is great for a handful of platforms but does not describe a healthy ecosystem. It’s estimated that about half of approximately $12 billion in mobile ad spend this year will flow to a single company. (One guess who: Google.) Virtually all mobile search ad spend goes to Google. Any market where 80% of the value is owned by a handful of players (including Pandora and Apple) is not broad-shouldered.

Mobile marketing and advertising is a Version 1.5 discipline. This is not an insult, simply a description of maturity. It’s only been around five years (unless you’re Maclarening back to the SMS and beeper days). CPMs for mobile ads are still relatively low, quality inventory is thin on the ground, and there’s no real consensus on what a “mobile banner ad” should look like when it grows up.

Adding confusion to the chaos, mobile analytics is significantly harder than big browser analytics. (Here are ten reasons why.) Mobile and app analytics platforms proliferate in a way that resembles Web analytics back in, say, 2002. There are the big boys like Adobe and IBM, newer analytics solutions like Mixpanel, advertiser-focused players like Yahoo’s Flurry, site experience tools like Artisan, and location-targeting specialists like Placed. And the list goes on . . . and on.

Part of the problem is what we call the cross-device conundrum. Simply put, people are harder to track on their mobile devices. Apple’s iOS deprecates cookies by default. Both Apple and a consortium led by Google provide cookie-like identifiers to advertisers (called IDFA and AdID), but these are incompatible and limited in use. There are also statistical methods of tying people to devices, with varying accuracy, but targeting people both for marketing efficiency and deeper insights remains a lingering challenge.

This week, our Gartner for Marketing Leaders Editorial Calendar focuses on helping digital marketers to address this challenge. We provide an indispensable Market Guide to Mobile Marketing Analytics (subscription required) as well as other research to help you mobilize this key part of your analytics discipline.

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