Tracking Mobile Ad Attribution

Tracking Mobile Ad Attribution

There’s some measure of irony in the difficulty surrounding mobile ad attribution.

Mobile devices are specifically designed to be portable, customizable, and user-friendly, allowing users to complete all sorts of tasks on one comprehensive platform.

In sad contrast, mobile ad attribution remains fragmented and largely inaccessible, with marketers reluctant to run cross-channel campaigns due to their inability to effectively measure ROI.

In the ad attribution family, mobile continues to be the ever-aloof and disparate child, content to sit in his room alone and remain a mystery.

(What does he do up there all day?)

Solving the Ad Attribution Mystery

Generally speaking, mobile ad attribution is the measurement of a user’s interactions with a mobile ad on a website or app.

It’s a way for marketers to understand how consumers engage with their ads in an effort to better tailor marketing campaigns to produce conversions and high ROI. If a marketer can’t accurately measure what series of events led a consumer to a desirable action, there’s no way to replicate that process and ensure it happens again.

Marketers obviously want the ability to determine value.

While mobile ad campaigns offer unimaginable potential to add value, the inability to measure campaign value keeps marketers downstairs without a clue.

Why the Difficulty on Mobile?

Mobile browsers don’t use cookies. HTTP “cookies” are bits of stored data communicated between a web server and an individual user’s browser. It’s one of the many ways marketers can track a user online to develop a consumer profile.

Unfortunately, however, the feature is desktop-exclusive.

Without this tracking capability, mobile campaigns have historically relied on rather unsophisticated methods that too often include a significant amount of guesswork. As you might assume, the word “guess” doesn’t sit too highly on a marketer’s list of most-cherished terms.

Precision Targeting on Mobile

One area where mobile does have a distinct advantage is location tracking.

In a 2013 report conducted by BIA/Kelsey – a research, consulting and advisory company – the average location-based CTR (click-through-rate) was 1.21%, effectively double the average of non location-based CTR (0.61% as reported by Verve Mobile).

It’s a powerful testament to mobile’s capabilities – and the technology is only getting better.

The current selection of location-based ad targeting broadly includes such methods as geo-aware ad placement, geo-fencing, and the latest trend… audience targeting.

While geo-awareness and geo-fencing can be highly effective and generally produce a substantial increase in CTR as illustrated above, they also fall prey to complications with location signals and iffy location data (depending on which vendor you use).

On the other hand, advanced geo-defined audience targeting offers marketers a way to fill in the holes created by traditionally desktop-oriented, location-based targeting.

Combined with advances in big data, mobile audience targeting now has access to invaluable demographic information and social predictors, including lifestyle, personal affluence, and shopping trends.

The result is a precise consumer profile, custom-made to reach any audience a marketer desires in real-time.

Mobile Ad Attribution In Action

The whole point of mobile ad attribution is to make sure all this location-based data is doing its job, ensuring campaigns are running optimally.

Advancements in big data leverage consumer information to properly buttress location analysis, tracking a user’s spatial behavior after ad exposure. Measuring large samples of these mobile users, either through first- or third- party reports, identifies consumer patterns and thus sheds light on the entire purchasing process.

People are complex. Now, armed with smartphones, tablets, and an ever-expanding list of emerging mobile technologies, audiences are as difficult as ever to track and measure. Leveraging big data is most certainly a must.

But mobile doesn’t just add cumbersome complexity. It creates opportunity. Attribution technologies are poised to take advantage of mobile portability and location-based data.

Marketers, publishers, and brands should take notice.

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Cameron Fitchett

Cameron is a marketing manager at Gimbal, a mobile advertising and marketing platform designed to substantially improve the relevancy of marketing communications with data.
Cameron Fitchett
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