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The Impractical Holy Grail of Integrated Multi-Screen Campaigns

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Well he we are, 2013, and we’re still talking about how next year is going to be the big year for mobile and integrated campaigns. I feel like I’ve been reading the same article on this topic every year for the past 4 years.

  • 10/26/2012: “The Year of Mobile…Measurement” – ClickZ
  • 4/13/2011: “Mobile Measurement Is A Customer Intelligence Imperative” – Forrester
  • 5/28/2010: “2011 Will Be Big For Mobile — No, Really” – MediaPost
  • 12/29/2009: “Mobile Advertising: 5 Things You Need to Know to Succeed in 2010″ – Mashable
  • So let’s discuss why, 4 years later, the industry still seems to be struggling to find its stride with mobile campaigns. The first and most obvious answer is a limitation in technology that executives and some marketers simply don’t understand. Boardroom Powerpoint slides need to be able to compare OOH, TV, Print, Online, and Mobile all in one neat little chart tied up with a ribbon. CEOs and CMOs demand this simplicity so that they can make quick and final decisions about media spends. The major issue here is that the quarterly planning meeting represents a fraction of the time and effort it takes to plan, implement, and report on a digital campaign, mobile or otherwise. How can we empower business leaders to make informed and educated decisions about digital media budgets without bringing them into the dirt to understand the online ad ecosystem? Well, we can’t. The idiosyncrasies of ad servers, cookies, in-app browsers, time-lag to conversion, and multi-screen behavior are too great to summarize in executive form. Until marketers start demanding a new perspective at evaluating ROI of digital media spend, mobile will continue to look like a bad investment to the black and white decision making tactics of the C-level executive.

    Part of the challenge in getting executives comfortable with mobile spend is that Marketers themselves don’t really understand mobile– at least not in the context of the consumer. There is an intrinsic problem with the way the industry is trying to approach integrated campaigns. In a Nielsen Survey released this week, 61% of respondents indicated that they needed “Consistent metrics across screens” before they could feel comfortable with mobile spend. But why? In what world do you think you can compare a mobile and TV ad apples to apples? In a Starcom study released earlier this year, we learned that consumers react to TV advertising much differently than In-stream video advertising. “45% hav[e] a negative attitude to [commercials in digital format] vs. 39% who had negative opinions of ads shown on TV (eMarketer). What’s even more telling is that 39% of consumer respondents were neutral to TV ads vs. only 30% to in-stream ads. This means that people on average have a stronger response to digital video ads whether positive or negative vs. TV.

    And these numbers don’t even take into account how response to mobile video specifically compares to that from TV ads. One study suggest that “Mobile video was 4.8x more effective than online and 5.8x more effective than TV” (AdColony/Nielsen). If you’re a good brand marketer, right now you’ll be thinking “right, but how do I know that these insights apply to my consumers, for my product category, in my industry?” Well the answer is, you can’t. Not unless you have the budget to support the type of time consuming, robust, and expensive research that makes it easy to win more budget in your quarterlies. Its rather ironic that the most efficient path to gaining more budget for mobile spend is gaining budget for consumer research. But there is no perceived ROI on these types of research efforts, given that digital marketers are still stuck in a world where executives demand revenue ROI on practically anything they spend online.

    Despite this lack of tact when approaching mobile spends, there is still a strong push for innovative and successful integrated campaigns. So if mobile really is a different beast that will never have the same apples to apples metrics as other media, how can we move forward? It goes back to clearly understanding the user experience of mobile content consumption. Our mobile devices are much closer to home than our TV ever was. While TV watchers have become accepting of commercials over the years, marketers will need re-focus on the consumer’s interest when it comes to mobile rather than their own business needs. The ever in-demand high HHI, college educated, consumer prone for digital transactions has their phone with them in bed when they wake up, in the bathroom stall when they take a break at work, and when they have dinner with their spouse. When you disrupt a television viewing experience, that’s all you do. When you disrupt a mobile content consumption experience, you run the risk of disrupting the personal lives of your customers. No one wants to be reminded that black friday is coming up when they are out with their friends and just quickly checking the local weather.

    Successful Integrated marketers will understand that moving the needle is not determined by measuring and optimizing channels individually, but rather in tandem. Success has always and will always hinge on crafting a clear and impactful message that is made available and engaging across all media channels. To measure this impact, we have to think holistically, using consumer research to measure the overall impact our campaigns make. And on a personal note, marketers must stop pitting their media agencies against each other to see which will take the biggest risks with your brand to give you the most Powerpoint friendly stat. Instead, marketers must guide their agencies to be great partners and collaborators, resisting the temptation to punish an agency at every bump in performance. When all is said and done, Integrated campaigns are about integrated content. The content consumers want on their TV is different than the content they want on their mobile. The way consumers respond to content also varies between channels. The only thing that is the same between them is the consumer. So, evaluating success of these integrated campaigns should also start with the consumer.

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