Do Brand Marketers Really Use Those Mobile Apps for Real-Time Analytics?

They do, in fact, and here's why

There's been a steady flow of mobile apps emerging for marketers, allowing them to monitor and tweak campaigns while they're running to an off-site meeting, doing the daily commute or "work-cationing" poolside with a cocktail or two. Twitter began testing the tech concept during the last holiday season, Facebook launched such an app in June, and digital-marketing company Unmetric unveiled its own on Aug. 6.

These mobile bells and whistles seem cool, but do brand marketers actually use them? Are they really sneaking peeks at engagement metrics or conversion rates while waiting for a taxi? The answer is "yes" for brands like Coke, General Motors, Procter & Gamble and the Chicago Bulls, all of which recently began using Unmetric's app, Sense, for on-the-go intelligence. 

"[We have more than] 200 independent markets promoting our products," explained Wes Finley, global director of social media operations at Coca-Cola. "It is important for us to be aware of all the content our marketing partners create and publish."

About a year ago, Unmetric CEO Lux Narayan was pitching a beta version of Sense, which lets marketers see their social-media activity in real time, to Procter & Gamble. It was going just OK until the rep for the packaged-goods giant "saw a canary in the coal mine," Narayan said. "She realized the [online data reporting] could indicate what kind of campaign could land on TV from one of her competitors."

Yuri Pereira, global social media strategist for music and gaming at Coke, had a similar reaction. 

"Competitive intel is key," Pereira said. "We do not have a crystal ball to see if our content will be successful, but with data we can create content that will have a higher probability of success."

New York-based Unmetric has already gotten 160 brand and agency clients to download and use the app. It lets them see audience statistics for competitors on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as well as the content that their rivals recently posted. YouTube will be added to the mobile platform in two weeks. In the next three months, the app will offer an engagement-score metric to let marketers get a broader snapshot of how other players are performing.

"We think the use case will go up to the [chief marketing officer]," predicted Narayan. "The CMO will have it on his or her phone." 

While that remains to be seen, Chelsea Rich, svp of strategy and analytics, DigitasLBi Boston, suggested that apps like the ones being offered by Facebook and Unmetric have strong utility in a smartphone age in which brand-related, user-generated content is constantly being posted. 

"Up to now, we've seen the best use for these apps around the larger event programs that allows the marketers to understand their results in real time," she said. "Marketers and brands can attain the 'always-on' approach while on the go and stay tapped into how their social campaign is performing without waiting for static reports."    

So, the next time you're having a drink with a marketing chief at the hotel bar and he or she occasionally seems distracted by a smartphone, don't take it personally. It's probably important business being attended to—with a healthy bit of competitive eavesdropping possibly involved. 

"We listen to our consumer directly through our social campaigns, but we also listen to our potential consumers via monitoring other brands' social campaigns," added Kevin Scholl, Red Roof Inn digital director.

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