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Yogi Berra: 4 ‘Comments’ on Mobile Marketing

Written by Andrew Edwards. Posted in Mobile Analytics

Sometimes I like to imagine what famous philosophers would say if they were asked to comment on timely topics like global warming or mobile marketing. In today’s case, I thought it would be illuminating to hear what the Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra would say about multi-screen environments, rich media, and conversion rates for smartphones.

So when I sat down for an imaginary conversation with the lifetime 0.285 hitter (with more World Series rings than fingers), it went something like this:

Andrew Edwards: Yogi, thanks for spending a few minutes on this important topic. What do you think of mobile marketing in general?

Yogi Berra: Taxis with signs on top? They move too fast to read.

I spent a minute getting us focused on the mobile marketing we know today – reaching customers on tablets, smartphones, and laptops with responsive design, apps, and HTML5 experiences; as always seeking to convert users into buyers in the smartest way possible (much as discussed at the recent Kontagent Konnect event in New York).

AE: What stands out for you about the mobile marketing space today?

YB: It’s déjà vu all over again.

If you look back at the late 1990s when everybody was rushing to create any website, right now, “just to have one” – and there’s no strategy or any good plan on how to make it make money – then that’s what mobile looks like today. There’s still so much to learn and understand about mobile, it’s going to be a while before we figure it out. But people in the content business are pretty optimistic that rich media for mobile will exceed the success of web marketing. They’re smart to remember that for marketers, an app is more or less a rich-media engagement-marketing tool.

AE: Yes, I believe they mentioned that at the Kontagent event. What’s different about mobile as compared with the desktop?

YB: You can’t hit and think at the same time.

In other words, don’t try to use your web strategy for mobile. The user dynamics are different, the experience is different, and the measurement criteria are different. With the web you can talk about page views, but inside an app you are measuring levels of engagement very differently depending on the app itself.

For instance, where email marketing works really well on the desktop, it pretty much fails on smartphones. Companies are seeing much lower conversion rates on one of their most important channels. So the way you reach people on smartphones needs to be readdressed because the “old” way doesn’t translate.

Also, you have to break out mobile into segments. According to the latest scouting reports, users on a tablet are two and a half times more likely to convert than on a smartphone. I would think you’d want to adjust your roster of marketing efforts to reflect what’s going on in the game right now.

AE: How fast is the mobile space evolving?

YB: It gets late early now.

Organizations need to move quickly but carefully…that takes skill. So you won’t be able to do it with a Little League effort. You will need domain expertise and the right tools: for publishing, for measurement, for optimization. And one of the hidden dangers is loss of discoverability inside of your apps. Google crawls the web, but not inside your app because it’s compiled code – so Google won’t find in-app content right now. Also, Apple doesn’t provide campaign identifiers on app downloads, so attribution is a major challenge for mobile marketers.

Finally, there’s the issue of Facebook apps and how you deal with Facebook as a company rather than as a platform. Many people forget that Facebook can move the fences anytime it wants in its own ball field, so how do you deal with that kind of potential disruption in your social channel?

AE: It sounds like you have some reservations about Facebook.

YB: Facebook? Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.








Mobile Measurement: Let’s Clear the Air(waves)

Written by Andrew Edwards. Posted in Mobile Analytics

The desktop is yesterday’s lunchmeat. Mobile is the new black for digital marketers.

Every person on the planet, it seems, has a way to connect via a mobile device; and marketers have responded by creating mobile-oriented content in astonishing volume. We now find it routine that a “website” will have adaptive technology – that is, it detects your device and wraps its content around that device profile to dynamically optimize the experience. Neat!

Everybody is in love with mobile. But mobile measurement? Not so much.

We don’t have the inches here to be comprehensive, but we can point out some broad outlines about the challenges facing mobile measurement – and the ways in which this inhibits the attainment of an understanding of ROI on mobile platforms.

The fact is that mobile measurement is still young and uncertain of itself. Among other shortcomings, some of the terminology is a bit squishy.

For instance: mobile means what, exactly? It means at least iOS and Android, and most folks kind of stop there. But what about user behavior as it relates to tablets? What about minified tablets? Or massive smartphone screens? And what about feature phones in the third world? And what about laptop use in cafes? It may sound like I’m kidding, but I’m not. If anyone bothered to look, this is probably an identifiable market with distinct behaviors apart from so-called “desktop.” Add apps to the mix and you begin to see the fragmentation.

One mild suggestion might be that we need to stop calling mobile “mobile” pretty soon, because it will be too inexact a term to be useful to us as marketers.

An example of where this plays out in the real world made itself plain when I attended the AdMonsters Ops/Mobile Conference in New York recently. If the conference indicated anything besides advertiser excitement, it was the very newness of it all; and it is clear that even expert participants are still taking small steps toward understanding mobile comprehensively.

VivaKi teamed up with USA Today to present its study of ad effectiveness on tablets. The study was comprehensive and the results were clearly given (there were three successful ad types identified), but the study apparently included only browser experiences on tablets.

Apps were not mentioned.

Apps are classified as “mobile,” too – but they did not make their way into this otherwise impressive study.

Nonetheless, there are things we can already say about apps and app measurement.

Apps are experienced in very different ways than any website, and demand new measurement paradigms. They’re also not searchable the way a website is, because (for instance) Google can’t spider through the compiled code of an app, nor allow you to access its contents on the fly. This in itself represents a profound change in the way marketers need to think about mobile. Apps are Kryptonite for SEO and SEM. You can’t optimize an app for search engines. Full stop.

Prior to 2012, app measurement was a tiny twig upon the tree of digital analytics; now it’s a branch you might be able to swing from if you’re not too heavy. Early on there was Flurry, a company whose primary business was (and is) to sell ads via its ad network; and it offers today a relatively simple and easy tool to measure some basic app activity. There are others in the market – Mixpanel, Radian6, KISSmetrics, Lavastorm, and Kontagent, which has come from the gaming world and may have the most robust mobile measurement platform today. Even stalwarts like Adobe Omniture and Webtrends have app measurement plug-ins if you care to indulge.

Google Analytics entered the mobile measurement field in 2012 with an API for app data collection. Not surprisingly, it has become a force in mobile measurement, because now the full weight of Google Analytics is put to work on a glaring inefficiency in the digital analytics market: measuring the now-ubiquitous app. With Google Analytics’ new API, you can deploy the burgeoning sophistication of this measurement tool against your app. You will have to alter your nomenclature, adjust your KPIs, and understand the nuances of “conversion” inside an app (beyond mere opens). But with Google Analytics in the mix, apps now become very measurable using an industry-standard tool.

So “mobile” can mean HTML content on multiple platforms and multiple device types, with very different development profiles and distinct experiences on each; it can also mean apps and games that conform not at all to any web paradigm.

What seems clear today is that “mobile” is rather a misnomer for several distinct disciplines; consequently, there’s really no such thing as a “mobile strategy.” Mobile is multi-faceted, and the world of mobile content and measurement is probably due for some recalibration of its taxonomy before we lose an opportunity to understand its rich potential.



Campaigns Are Not Conversions: 7 Steps to Unclog the Funnel

Written by Andrew Edwards. Posted in Digital Analytics

The Wall Street Journal reported last year that General Motors pulled $10 million worth of its Facebook ads. And Morningstar said it will be very difficult for Facebook to build an advertising model to justify its lofty offering valuation.

Apparently GM marketers had become unconvinced that their Facebook spend was helping sell cars. Could it be they were deploying the now venerable practice of campaign attribution? In which case the proponents of actionable analytics would claim a victory (or if you are a Facebook shareholder, make that a “victim”).

Hypnotic Effect

Advertising venues – content creators, aggregators, information sleight-of-hand specialists like Google and Facebook – have long held an almost mesmeric power over the advertiser. Looking for sales, the advertiser casts about for audience, or “reach.” Taking Facebook as an example: with near a billion users, that is one heckuva good reach, Zucky.

But audience is not sales delivery. Campaign is not conversion. And the panoply of content creators and ad networks and ad agencies, without conspiring to do so, present an almost united message that prompts us to sharply recall John Wanamaker’s antique dilemma: not knowing which ads worked and which did not.

Too Much at the Top

The big advertising message is that it really is about stuffing the funnel and little else. In fact, they love to crow about how unmanageably complex the ad network business is (you’ve seen the million-box org chart no doubt), and how only mysterious algorithms can deliver your audience to you, and how that alone is so complex and so impenetrable that the notion of trying to simplify it by studying campaign success – basic analytics – is simply not much to discuss. It would be so hard! Unless, of course, you were plugged in to how analytics really works.

In today’s digital marketplace, you can now target ads more carefully than when you called the visor-wearing research guy on the 13th floor. You’ve got exact behavior patterns to study, and customer preferences and surveys and “likes” and referrals and Klout and tweets and mentions. And doesn’t it feel grand when it turns out plenty of folks forwarded your content or shared your YouTube video with a friend? Except not so much in the wallet.

Because campaigns are not conversions. Social media connections are not paying customers. And as GM may have lately discovered, hanging out at the Facebook cocktail party does not make you the bartender. You are spending to be there, and you might meet a new prospect. But how much are you willing to pay for a networking event where they don’t even give you a ticket for a gin and tonic? Meanwhile, as the clock ticks toward midnight, the bar gets more and more crowded. It’s exciting to be part of this! Trouble is, you wake up the next morning in a straw bed full of pumpkins. And not a glass slipper in sight.


The cure is a fair amount of hard work. The cure is to measure campaign success via independent means. Independent means, means: not the advertising venue, not the advertising creatives, not the ad network.


Look to your own humble web analytics implementation and ask for some real answers.

Set up campaign identifiers inside your tool of choice.

Don’t look at who came to the landing page (unless you are using the likes of HubSpot for targeting purposes). Set up a sales scenario. Call it a funnel, a set of desired actions, engagement metrics, or a frozen-banana stand. But make sure it has a beginning (traffic from the campaign); a middle (behavior that indicates readiness to purchase); and an end (that “cha-ching” sound you hear is the conversion – a sale, a lead, a download, for instance).

Track the campaign traffic all the way through to the end. Were there lots of customers reaching the “thank you” page?

Pull the numbers out of your analytics tool and build a spreadsheet for campaign success. For example: campaign name, completion stage limit, number of completed stages, and, if appropriate, revenue. An equally important exercise is to look at revenue against unique visitor amount by campaign. This will tell you which campaign drove the biggest spenders. Tie this all back to how much you spent on the campaign. How much more did you make than you spent?

Get your marketers and creatives and agencies into a room and show them the spreadsheet. Ask them why you should keep spending on the stuff that came up goose-eggs. Reward those who rang the register.

I can’t say for certain about what GM did, and I know some will say I oversimplified it (even if for clarity). But if GM, which had a near-death experience not long ago, finds itself remarkably clear-headed now about where its new dollars are going, then that can be no surprise. All it is saying to the likes of Facebook is: “Instead of believing you, we are going to believe our own two eyes.”

And yes, it can be that simple – with the right conversion data.


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