in Your

Article Number 10 Desktop article number 10

Mobile Devices as Data Connectors Through the Customer Journey

Kristen Pankratz Sarah Franks

“Ultimately, measuring ROI means having the right mix of analytics to capture insights along the entire consumer journey,” states a report from Millward Brown. Many advertisers have powerful analytics tools in their toolbox (including site analytics systems or data management platforms). But there’s one small tool, as noted by Google, generating robust data that 87 percent of people always have “at their side, day and night. The mobile device.

As mobile device technology makes evaluating the power of media spend throughout a consumer’s journey more attainable, clients will lean on evolved metrics that can show and connect the value of ads across campaign touchpoints and allow for learnings and optimizations throughout the customer journey.

Big Data in Your Pocket

After years of “mobile-first” monikers, mobile has now firmly solidified its position as “the leading digital platform, with total activity on smartphones and tablets accounting for two-thirds of digital media time spent.” On top of that, adoption has not slowed, with eMarketer projecting that 81 percent of the population will use a mobile device in 2017.

With vast improvements and expansions of cross-device measurement, the mobile device now serves not only as a means of reaching an audience, but also as a data connector of a person’s digital persona, connecting the user across home or work desktop usage, wearables, and, increasingly, television. This connector generates insightful data and metrics that can apply to the full customer journey. Let’s take a look at how mobile may be used to provide these deeper, connected insights.

How Do We Know a Consumer Exposed to Our Campaign Entered the Store?

Through the mobile device, advertisers are able to connect their campaigns with in-store traffic, identifying insights between what a consumer was exposed to prior to entering a store and what they do while shopping.

Store traffic technology itself is not new. Many measurement solutions saw their beginning about five years ago. Since inception, the technologies have evolved from panel-based and limited-scale solutions to advanced movement tracking across iOS and Android location services through partners such as PlaceIQ and NinthDecimal.

Additionally, measurement advances have been made through the rise of beacon technology, which has seen quick adoption and is expected to continue growing with new technology advancements in the coming years. In fact, beacon adoption is on track to hit 400 million by 2020, according to Unacast, which is the world’s largest network of beacon and proximity data.

And while the buzz around beacons and location-services technology is heavily focused on in-store brand interaction, ad serving, and coupon distribution, these advancements reach much further to accelerate measurement opportunities in the race for attributing awareness messaging to a tangible key performance indicator (KPI).

What does this mean for advertisers? Together, these systems can more accurately link ad exposures across digital ads in the journey to a single mobile device to determine if the audience was driven in-store.

At this level, the most important metric to consider is the in-store visit rate. While methodologies differ between partners, generally this metric is calculated by determining the rate of unique mobile devices that visited a store to the volume of ad exposures generated.

So, given the in-store visit rate importance, although the desktop display generated the highest click volume, the mobile video and mobile paid social are considered stronger performers given that there was a higher volume of store visits following ad exposure for those placements.


Video content has a high in-store visit rate.

These mobile insights can be applied to higher funnel tactics, throughout the customer journey. Let’s take a look at how these metrics may be applied to brand interest.

How Do We Know if a User Has Interest in Our Brand?

The space between awareness and in-store/sales has always been fuzzy, as advertisers cobble together engagement-type metrics to attempt to find the customer and draw them into a brand experience.

Identifying how mobile shifted consumer behaviors, Google introduced the concept of “micro-moments,” which raises focus on the “in-between” stages consumers execute throughout their journey prior to making a purchase.

These micro-moments are made more powerful when connected with the insights drawn from the in-store metrics. Google states in its report: “Thinking about these intent/context combinations will not only help you identify more specific micro-moments to go after, but it will also encourage ideas for how to be most useful with your content, ad messages, and app functionality when you are there.”

Determining the metric for micro-moments depends upon your objectives as there are an almost infinite number of micro-moments to consider. Ultimately, it’s important to evaluate what data from your customer’s mobile usage may be relevant to determine the information they are seeking.

Continuing with the in-store data reviewed in the example above, given that mobile video was a strong performer in driving store visits, that data may be reviewed at a deeper level to determine what video content the customer is viewing, how that content may inform search behaviors, and how soon after viewing they visit a store.

How Much Exposure Is Needed to Drive Brand Interest and Ultimately a Store Visit?

Traditionally, marketers rely on reach and frequency metrics to determine the optimum exposure needed. While valuable, these metrics are limited in that touchpoints are largely considered equal, yet we know an impression for a long-form piece of content may not be the same value as an impression for a display unit.

Great news: Our mobile insights can apply to this stage too, as we look at increasing exposure time with a brand. With this metric, we aren’t merely aiming to increase the reach of media channels, but the time our consumers are exposed to ads across the highest-performing channels, knowing that typically consumers move seamlessly across many devices en route to conversion.

So, how do we calculate an exposure time metric? Continuing with our previous example, let’s assume this advertiser served three mobile videos during its flight, each 30 seconds in length. We could then determine the exposure time by calculating the total number of minutes viewed for each video.

That metric could then be applied to the in-store visit rate and the micro-moments to determine which video was strongest in delivering brand engagement and store visits.

Tapad, a cross-device publisher, has recently released a viewable exposure time (VET) metric that identifies the optimum cross-device viewable exposures needed for a consumer to complete a desired action (be it a conversion or on-site activity). With VET, advertisers may optimize their media to maximize the exposure time needed for a user to act across their desktop, mobile, and tablet.

How to hit the optimal time for your consumers to take action.

As an added bonus for exposure-time metrics, mobile measurement for offline channels is continuing to expand and grow in sophistication. While not perfect yet and still relatively low in scale, companies (including Tapad) are implementing methodologies for connecting a user exposed to TV and out-of-home to in-store traffic using the mobile device.

What Does This Mean for Me Today?

Using mobile data to inform measurement throughout the customer journey can be powerful, yet it does require some work. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach given that each brand has different goals and objectives.

Below are some guidelines to begin considering the application of mobile data throughout the customer journey for your brand:

  • Design a schema based on the business outcomes most important to your brand. Start with your goals and objectives, and identify what mobile data you’d like to gather to both inform and measure against those outcomes. Additionally, identify the optimal method for data collection and analysis, be it using current systems and technology or outlining a road map for implementing the appropriate tools for success.
  • Set KPIs to measure results throughout the journey. Ensure the KPIs are evaluated by channel and holistically across the campaign. While optimizations at a partner level are important, it’s equally important to understand how a channel is contributing to the campaign as a whole.
  • Organize and align teams to collect, evaluate, and create insights from the results. While each team has an individual role, the results and insights impact all components of the customer journey; therefore, it is important to review and share results holistically.

The “holy grail” of measurement may still be out of grasp, but using mobile’s always-on nature to measure and inform tactics throughout the customer journey aids in inching us closer.

  • Kristen PankratzKristen Pankratz

    Brand Media/Planner
    Kristen plans media for all channels across a variety of clients, including Biltmore, Charles Schwab, and Firehouse Subs. This involves addressing client objectives through a strategic analysis of the media landscape to create an approach that brings audiences full funnel to conversion. In her spare time, Kristen enjoys being active with family and friends and taking weekend trips to enjoy the outdoors through activities such as sailing, skiing, and snowboarding.

  • Sarah FranksSarah Franks

    Brand Media/Planner
    As an Air Force kid, Sarah literally grew up on all four sides of the country, which spurred a love of traveling. At The Richards Group, she has worked on a variety of national and local brands, including Red Lobster, Zales, Sewell Automotive Companies, and H-E-B grocery stores. Sarah currently splits her time between MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Great Gatherings, and Shamrock Farms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *