customer experience, Forrester Report on Mobile In-App Ads: Targeted Messages, No DisruptionsFor Smartphone and tablet users, the love affair with their apps is something that can’t be disrupted. 

If you’re a mobile marketer, that kinda stinks.

Struggling Marketers

A new report by Forrester recognizes this challenge and suggests that marketers redefine their in-app ad strategy by reaching the right audience in a way that does not disrupt the app experience and at the same time tracks metrics that match their marketing objectives.

The new report released this week -- “Exploring The In-App Advertising Opportunity” -- says marketers struggle to capitalize on reaching mobile users because of a fragmented partner landscape and lack of standardization.

CMSWire caught up with Forrester report author Jennifer Wise, an analyst focused on mobile marketing, and asked her the most surprising results from the survey conducted prior to the report.

"That while people find these ads interruptive," she answered, "they can be effective -- the survey revealed that approximately half of US smartphone owners who have apps and have seen in-app ads have done research or made a purchase afterwards."

Some of this report sings a tune we’ve heard on our marketing radio plenty of times: mobile app use is on the rise (up 22% from 2011 to 2012) and marketers can reach a growing audience at peak times (52 million mobile app users around 8 p.m.).

So the question remains: what to do about it?

Boosting Your Mobile App Campaigns

Forrester’s report suggests marketers think beyond direct-response type ads and app promotion and offer a strong customer experience by keeping unique mobile app considerations in mind.

Specifically, mobile marketers should:

  • Determine the specifics of whom you want to reach. Information like device type, location, preferences and behavior information can help marketers deliver targeted messages to the right audience. Consider time of day and in-app actions when crafting your message.
  • Design your campaign for the best user experience. A marketer seen as disruptive is as desired a reputation as a fruit vendor having one for mold. Forrester cites Tapjoy’s incentive-based model for brand interaction and Appsavvy, which identifies natural breaks or actions within the app to act as triggers for ads. Propel Zero powder runs an ad -- and serves a “congrats” -- targeting runners finishing a jog through a fitness app.
  • Buy the inventory in a way that aligns with your goals. Go beyond impressions and clicks to measure specific actions. Marketers today have access to a standard CPM model, a pay-for-performance model that’s usually based on app downloads, and standards such as pay-per-engagement.

Why This Survey?

We asked Wise what makes this particular survey stand out among others. Forrester conducted surveys for each phase of the customer lifecycle -- Discover, Explore, Buy and Engage, she said. These questions were asked in Forrester's Discover survey, "aimed to help marketers uncover the resources by which customers discover new brands, products and information, and how effective these are."

Forrester specifically asked about in-app advertising, the types of in-app ads seen (for example, for other apps vs. for new products), and their attitudes toward these ads, Wise said.

"This can provide marketers deep insight into customer experience" regarding in-app ads to help optimize their strategy, Wise added.

Forrester cited two sources of data in this report: the demographic data of smartphones and tablets app users from its North American Technographics® Online Benchmark Survey (Part 1) and a 2013 survey of 61,104 US online adults (18+). The specific insights into in-app ads are from the end of 2012, Wise said.

Mobile Ad Revenue Climbing

Being successful in mobile advertising has had proven results -- as in money made.

According to a report in July by IAB and HIS, “Global Mobile Advertising Revenue," which outlines global mobile advertising trends from the past two years, the top three locations for mobile ad growth in 2011 and 2012 were the Asia-Pacific, North America and Western Europe.

In 2011, the Asia Pacific received US$ 2.2 billion in revenue from mobile ads which raised to US$ 3.5 billion in 2012.

So what can mobile marketers take away from this report?

Wise said marketers must realize that mobile in-app advertising is different from mobile web advertising/display, and very different from desktop web advertising/display.

"Marketers need to consider new form-factors," she told CMSWire, "and ways to incorporate their ads into the app to be relevant to the customer, and less interruptive of the customer’s experience."