Cost vs. Return: Marketers & Publishers Share The Mobile Pain, Part 1

|John LoGioco
The Mobile Pain

At Outbrain, we are fortunate to work with both marketers and publishers on both desktop and mobile initiatives. In recent meetings, when discussing mobile strategies, we are hearing both sides complain about the ROI around their mobile efforts, largely due to low levels of engagement (for marketers) and a monetization disconnect (for publishers). In this two-part series, I will take a look at the pain points that marketers and publishers experience around their mobile strategies and some ideas on how to improve their efforts.

Part 1: Marketers See Low Engagement

Marketers complain most about the low level of engagement with the apps they release. Nate Elliott over at Forrester penned a great post questioning the ROI of marketer apps, citing two problematic market conditions: the downloading of marketer apps is still a niche marketplace and the weak usage of the marketer apps that do get downloaded.

Elliott explains:
“According to our latest surveys, just 7% of mobile American and European phone owners regularly download mobile applications — and only 11% of phone owners in the US have ever downloaded an app from an app store or marketplace. Meanwhile, data from mobile analytics firms shows that on average 80% of free apps are never used again after the day they’re first downloaded.”

This is not to say that marketers should abandon apps, but rather think about how apps fit into a larger mobile strategy. Instead of diving headfirst into costly app creation, marketers should take a page from the publisher mobile playbook and look at their own existing site for clues on how to increase mobile engagement. Many leading publishers have their sites optimized for mobile devices, and as a result, have more page views (i.e., engagement) than they can deal with. Marketers would love to be in this situation.

When someone is interested in a brand and hits the brand’s site from a mobile device, he/she should ideally get a mobile-optimized experience. Publishers have learned that delivering a mobile-optimized experience to mobile readers is the key for increasing engagement. In reality, the list of brands that have mobile sites is staggeringly low. Instead, right now, brands are guessing what their mobile audiences want and releasing apps as bait. And unfortunately, the mobile viewers are not biting.

Ahead of building an app, valuable questions for a marketer to ask him/herself should include, “What kind of content should mobile viewers see when they hit my site from their phone? Should they see real pieces of content like articles or videos? Should they see location maps?” These are great questions for brands to consider before they jump into the apps game.

Once the brand has a mobile-optimized site, then the fun begins from a data perspective. Traffic coming into a brand’s mobile site is traffic the brand owns — as opposed to sharing the data with third parties like Facebook or an app developer. Owning the mobile traffic data (e.g., location, interest, behavior and device) and analyzing the engagement can provide key insights that will likely inform the discussion around app development. Armed with real data on their own brand from their own mobile viewers, brands can then develop apps with a higher level of confidence and relieve some of the pain around the ROI of their existing mobile efforts.

Coming tomorrowPart 2: Publishers’ Challenge and Opportunity of Monetization

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John LoGioco

John LoGioco

John is Executive Vice President and member of the founding team at Outbrain. John leads strategic initiatives and partnerships in... Read more

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