4INFO’s Chuck Moxley discusses impressions, ROAS and the future of mobile advertising

4info

4INFO, the mobile ad tech firm, recently launched its Mobile Advertising Benchmarks report which took a closer look at mobile advertising impressions and offline sales.

Now, we’ve spoken to Chuck Moxley, Chief Marketing Officer at 4INFO about the results of the research and the future of mobile advertising.

chuck moxley

The latest benchmark results have shown consistent ROAS and are based on a series of case studies across 136 campaigns and 93 different brands, Moxley explains.

“Really, the biggest takeaway is that it IS possible to link mobile ad impressions and offline sales data to prove a definitive ROAS for advertisers, and that mobile advertising is killing it, not just in sales via mobile devices but in brick and mortar stores. […] If that doesn’t convince advertisers that mobile advertising can drive sales in store, then what will?”

The study was based on ROAS (Return on Ad Spending) and not ROI (Return on Investment) to offer better insights into sales lift and ad spending. ROI is harder to calculate, Moxley adds – since it requires knowledge of a brand’s average product margins and merchandising costs.

One of the core issues the 4INFO study identified is that many marketers still don’t know how to view their in-store sales lift based on sales transaction data. Moxley explains:

“There’s definitely a knowledge gap. Not enough marketers and agencies know it’s possible. And others are stopping short by measuring store visits or foot traffic. So it’s a matter of doing your homework, asking the right questions and pushing for full funnel analytics including getting a true read of campaign performance.”

Indeed, too many marketers are still waiting for a better solution whilst others are settling for substitutes that aren’t good enough. Moxley recommends that advertisers still in search of the perfect solution should re-evaluate their expectations.

“The reality that advertising and marketing is perfect isn’t attainable. Everything looks amazing at 1,000 feet but if you get down to a granular level, mistakes happen. Advertisers will reach a few non-buyers, send direct mail to dead people, accidentally over-frequent an individual. But the methodology we’re employing today is proven across hundreds and thousands of campaigns, has been developed and refined by some of the top research organisations in the world and produces a meaningful and reasonably accurate picture of returns.”

Those who have already settled on a flawed solutions should push for answers, he adds. Thanks to a variety of measurement tools from firms such as Nielsen and Kantar, marketers can easily obtain better digital advertising analytics from their clicks and store visit data.

The report focussed mostly on larger brands which produce sales data that’s statistically more valid than smaller retailers, he explains. Indeed, campaigns which reach fewer than 100,000 households aren’t producing purchase data that’s frequent enough for “statistically valid results”.

Capturing sales data is another challenge among local brands.

“With larger brands, we can tap into industry cooperative datasets, like Nielsen Catalina Solutions frequent shopper cards and HomeScan panel, to get access to UPC-level sales transaction data. Local brands won’t have their data in any third-party dataset, so they’ll have to be able to record the sales data and tie it back to mobile ad impressions. Most small businesses don’t have that capability.”

However, solutions for smaller businesses are being developed, “such as being able to track inbound calls via several vendors that can tie different 800 numbers to each ad unit.”

Moxley says that given a bit of time, new ad platforms could emerge which deploy tools “to upload sales transaction data that can be matched to ad impressions.” Facebook already offers a similar solution.

But measurement is just one aspect of the mobile advertising journey. Format is another and that’s where Moxley projects a bright future for mobile video.

“Certainly video is growing very fast, at times even faster than available inventory, which keeps pricing high for video units. But traditional TV advertisers like video because they can repurpose existing content, and younger consumers – people 30 and under – have demonstrated a preference for consuming content via video vs. other formats. We’ve seen tremendous growth in video units.”

4INFO also noted stronger uptake of rich media units, whilst native advertising has lacked some enthusiasm. That could be due to a lack of strong positive results affirming the effectiveness of the format.

Surprisingly, mobile banners aren’t the black sheep they’re made out to be. Indeed, many banner campaigns still provide some positive ROAS for advertisers, despite the format having long been declared “dead and ineffective”.

“Bottom line with creative is it’s all about how well the message is communicated, the brand is clearly displayed and the offer that determines success. We’ve seen in the data that some sort of promotional element – e.g., sale or promotion – drives the highest ROAS.”