Mobile Ate My Cookie!

Posted by Kate Jurras on Mon, Jul 16, 2012

MS resized 600For the July blog series, we asked some of Boston's greatest thought leaders to speak on a particularly complicated (but relevant) subject: tracking, targeting, and privacy. Their responses were surprising, fascinating, and applicable - and we think you'll find this series quite interesting! This post is by Michele Szabocsik. As an enthusiast of data-driven marketing, Michele is an Insights Supervisor at Media Contacts Boston. She analyzes digital media campaigns to extract insights that can be applied for more effective media planning. Prior to her current role, she spent 6 years in digital media planning & buying. Michele regularly speaks to an Interactive Marketing class at her alma mater, Boston University’s College of Communication. Outside of the office, you can find her at 2nd base on the softball field.

If you give a mouse a cookie, he'll want a glass of milk. If you give a marketer a cookie, he'll want to know what you do, when you do it, and how many times. Oh, and your relationship status…with his brand, of course. But what happens if you take that cookie away? Welcome to mobile media analytics, where we are often left hungry for more.

I'm a fairly mild-mannered person. But when I sit down to analyze a mobile media campaign, it makes me want to scream. What do you mean we can’t serve and track our ads through a single ad server?  And we can’t measure post-campaign reach and frequency? What about attributing credit to mobile engagement for desktop conversion?? How am I supposed to quantify the value of my mobile campaign without these answers?!

Until we find a solution to help us with these questions, here are the best practices I recommend for approaching the complex ecosystem of today in order to prepare us for better mobile measurement tomorrow:

  1. Keep it simple: Mobile media is complex because there are almost no standards, which creates endless creative possibilities. It’s why we love (and hate) it. Don’t be tempted to try too many different things at once. Create clean tests at scale, learn, and then evolve.
  2. Address the dichotomies: In an effort to better understand audience response to advertising on all of the new devices in their lives, traffic your campaigns to track performance against the dichotomies, such as:
    • In-App vs. Browser
    • (Tablet vs. Handheld) vs. Desktop
    • Tap-to-Expanded Ad vs. Tap-to-Mobile Site
  3. Not all interactions are created equal: Reports with all interactions rolled up into one Interaction Rate is not good enough. You need to approach this type of creative like web analytics. The user may have 10+ opportunities to interact within a single ad, but "Tap to Play Video" should not be rolled up into an Interaction Rate that also includes "Tap to Close Screen." Identify and define primary & secondary interactions with the creative team during development, and then focus your attention on what’s important.

I’m confident that our industry will find a solution to streamline mobile analytics at the campaign-level, and it will make us forget our nostalgia for cookies and static GIFs served through a single ad server. We’ll no longer be speaking in dichotomies. Instead, we’ll be targeting audiences based on their real-time experiences.

Imagine a world where we don't just track the adjacent content of the ad, interaction counts, or the OS it is served to, but we can also seamlessly track the audience’s real world adjacencies at the time when the ad is served – regardless of who the ad inventory is purchased from.

Perhaps cloud adoption will pick up, and we will be able to find answers to our questions through some sort of a cross-screen cloud ID. (I can only dream). But if you give a marketer a cloud ID, what will he want next?