Marketers Can Now Run Studies to See How People Respond to Their Mobile Ads

Pairing targeting technology with brand-lift surveys

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Outside of juggernauts like Facebook, marketers have struggled for years to deem mobile advertising effective, largely because smartphone-size campaigns lack the same measurement and targeting capabilities desktop advertisers expect.

"What marketers are concerned about today is the staggering shift from desktop to a mobile device," said Richy Glassberg, CEO of WPP-owned Medialets. "In the last two to three years, mobile has taken 60 percent of all usage in digital, but the spending is so far behind. The tools that they use in desktop aren't translating to mobile."

To help brands quantify the impact of mobile ads after they're shown to consumers, Medialets is plugging its ad-targeting technology into Millward Brown Digital's (also owned by WPP) brand-lift studies. After serving a mobile ad, advertisers can run a study to find out if people remember it.

Instead of using cookies—pieces of data that track desktop Web activity—Medialets' technology anonymously tracks mobile IDs to help advertisers target specific groups of consumers. After identifying that someone saw an ad, brands can run follow-up surveys with questions like "Do you remember the ad you just saw?" or "How likely are you to buy the product you just saw advertised?"

"This is really hard, deep-in-the-woods tech, but it's fundamental," Glassberg said. "If you can't identify a device and cookies don't work in mobile, how do we give marketers the tools and the KPIs to feel comfortable in shifting their budgets to mobile?"

Although he wouldn't name specific brands, Glassberg said five marketers—including automotive, consumer-packaged goods, beverage and financial brands—have tested the new data tools.

Whether brand-lift studies will ultimately convince advertisers to move sizable budgets to mobile isn't clear, especially with the rise of fraud and ad blocking, but spending in general continues to grow. According to eMarketer, mobile made up 52.4 percent of digital ad spending this year, up from 38.5 percent in 2014. Next year, mobile is expected to grab 62.6 percent of digital ad budgets.

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.