Mobile is fast becoming the device we reach to for advice and assistance throughout our daily routine, so it’s little wonder that verticals such as Health & Fitness and Finance are stepping up mobile advertising activities and spend.
It’s a massive mobile advertising trend that marked 2011, and sure to gain additional momentum in 2012, according to the 2011 Year In Review SMART report (Scorecard for Mobile Advertising Reach and Targeting).
By way of background, the SMART report, based on network data provided by independent mobile ad and data platform company Millennial Media, delivers advertisers strategic intelligence and insights aimed at helping them make informed mobile media planning and campaign decisions. The SMART report series was also the first in the space to track the “Vertical Explosion” and the increased mobile spend among new and exciting verticals (such as Pharmaceuticals and Education).
Significantly, nine verticals experienced triple-digit growth year-over-year. Health: Fitness & Wellness broke into the Top 10 for the first time. Advertisers across this vertical leveraged mobile to provide seasonally relevant messages to customers, heavily promoting fitness products during the beginning of the year and summer months, while promoting wellness products and services during the cold and allergy seasons.
But the real story was Finance, where mobile ad spend jumped up a whopping 314 percent. Advertisers primarily used mobile to create awareness campaigns and drive customers into their branch locations. Insurance and credit card brands leveraged mobile to generate leads.
Top 3 global advertising trends
What is the real power of mobile? Its ability to target a specific customer segment? Deliver contextually relevant advertising? Drive footfall and traffic in real bricks-and-mortar places of business? Something else?
According to this report (and drawing from the Top 250 campaigns run monthly on the Millennial Media platform) three clear (and global) advertiser trends around the unique characteristics of mobile emerged:
1. Local market targeting – More brands leveraged mobile to connect with local markets. In EMEA, for example, this translated into campaigns by retailers to target people nearby and drive in-store footfall. In South East Asia (SEA) the focus was more on delivering locally relevant advertising messages to target audiences.
2. Mobile video – The ‘wow’ effect of video (ideal to create and drive brand awareness) continues to capture the enthusiasm (and spend) of advertisers in North America, where Millennial Media noted a significant increase in investment in mobile video campaigns. In EMEA, where this trend was also strong, Entertainment led other verticals in incorporating mobile video into campaigns (primarily around reaching audiences at scale with movie trailers and TV spots). In SEA the story was slightly different. There the rise of smartphones had a knock-on effect on brands, encouraging them to extend their TV creative to mobile.
3. Mass market reach – Whether enhanced by deep integration with social media activities, or chosen as the anchor for ambitious cross-media/cross-channel campaigns, marketers everywhere leveraged mobile to reach audiences at scale.
Campaign goals and post-click mix
What did advertisers aim to accomplish with their mobile campaigns in 2011? “Sustained In-Market Presence” — Millennial Media’s term for efforts aimed at increasing brand awareness and loyalty — was the chief objective for 31 percent of campaigns. (A big part of this was about driving people to download apps and play branded games, for example.)
Lead Gen/Registrations was the end-goal for 25 percent of campaigns.
Finally, the SMART report sheds light on what advertisers wanted us to do after the click. Branded apps — branded applications with the full functionality of the advertisers’ websites — hit the mainstream in 2011, a trend that pushed Application Download into a top-notch spot in the Post-Click Campaign Action Mix. Other actions to note include: Watch video (24 percent), Store locator (23 percent) and Retail promotion (22 percent).
Media planning and making the right campaign decisions requires solid data and this SMART report delivers it in spades It is chock-full of data and tables far beyond the scope of my analysis here, so I encourage everyone to download and read it and the dozens (!) of reports Millennial Media produces (a collection of research and resources that now spans SMART, Mobile Mix and the Mobile Intel Series).
Many data points deserve our attention, but I was struck by the rise of Health: Fitness & Wellness. Mobile ad spending is up (and the last Mobile Mix tells us that Health is also a leading app category). So, is it the vertical to watch? It’s hard to call, but one thing for sure: Count on Health: Fitness & Wellness it to be a top ranking vertical throughout 2012. Interestingly, we also learn that Education brands got deeper into mobile, leveraging the channel to generate leads for the regional degree programs. This confirms that mobile advertising is not just about reaching people at important stages of the purchase funnel. Mobile is also becoming a life-management tool that people reach to when they are looking for advice and ideas. Connect with people when they are in this mode, considering options and choices related to their personal lives, and you’ll reach an audience eager to listen.
This post is part of our Mobile Advertising Briefing Room, a thinking space dedicated to providing its community mobile intelligence, consumer research, case studies and industry best practices that equip marketers to reach and engage their target audience at scale. This discussion is hosted & sponsored by Millennial Media.