On the heels of recent research centered around how companies are falling short with mobile marketing, comes a new report — this time with similarly disappointing findings around mobile advertising, in particular.

The AdExchanger Research report, titled Mobile’s Unmet Potential (available for purchase), finds that although marketers, technology providers and agencies surprisingly share the same vision for the future of mobile advertising, no such agreement exists regarding how to achieve that vision.

The Shared Vision


“I have never seen this much agreement between marketers and vendors about what the future of mobile advertising should be,” Melissa Parrish, executive director of AdExchanger Research, told CMSWire.

“Suddenly it’s here – 80 percent of vendors and marketers say this is how mobile should evolve.”

AdExchanger Research surveyed 542 professionals about mobile’s challenges, disappointments and potential, and found widespread agreement about where mobile advertising should be headed.

Many of those surveyed stated that in the next five years, they hoped mobile advertising would be:

  • Extremely well-targeted and personalized: All three groups ranked this aspect at the top of their list, with 80 percent of marketers and 78 percent of agencies and technology providers in agreement.
  • Distinct from online formats: The survey revealed that 68 percent of marketers, and 55 percent of agencies and technology providers believe that mobile advertising formats will adapt to take advantage of mobile device capabilities and the uniqueness of the customer experience.
  • Bought and sold on a premium basis: Half of agency and technology professionals surveyed, and 48 percent of marketers believe that, because marketers will use mobile data and capabilities to target the right person, they will pay higher prices for less impressions.

So, what’s the problem?

According to the research, one third of marketers believe that agencies don’t have enough experience to create effective mobile campaigns, while 43 percent of agencies and technology providers say their clients “still see mobile advertising as experimental, so their budgets are too small to accomplish anything really interesting.”

Further, 35 percent of agencies and technology vendors say that their clients don’t have enough experience in mobile to develop realistic expectations about their programs’ performance.

How to End the Blame Game

In the report, Parrish and her co-author, Joanna O’Connell, outline four actions marketers can take to move mobile advertising forward in the coming year.

1. Measure differently

“Marketers still rely on impressions as their primary metric,” said Parrish. “In mobile there’s a lot more meaningful data. Marketers should be looking at business impact, and measuring for that outcome instead of just counting impressions.”

2. Plan multiple iterations for each campaign

“As marketers enter a planning cycle for mobile, they should plan for every initiative to have multiple iterations,” said Parrish.

Although this sounds impossible for already time-starved marketers, she boils it all down to planning.

“Marketers don’t have time to learn from current campaigns and apply to the next one – it’s a question of smoothing the planning cycle. Build time into mobile ad planning cycles, take a look at the data, and roll that into the next iteration.”

3. Find complacency and root it out

“For many marketers, mobile seems kind of scary or too opaque,” said Parrish. “Some marketers say, ‘Everything is fine, let’s keep going with what we’ve got.’ That’s complacency. Marketers should find that complacency and move past it.”

The report recommends that marketers review their marketing plans and find areas in which mobile has not yet been considered.

“Mobile can impact other channels that marketers are not taking advantage of,” said Parrish. For example, “What is the percentage of mobile on your search plan, and are you optimizing?”

4. Incentivize partners

“Two-thirds of the tech vendors I’ve spoken with are selling their services on a custom basis to marketers who are willing to create a beneficially mutual relationship,” said Parrish. 

Agreeing to joint press interviews or joint award entries to provide recognition to vendors is one way marketers can keep costs down.

Another alternative is technology ownership, where the brand uses the technology developed at a discounted rate, but the vendor owns the technical IP.

“There’s a lot of advice we’ve been saying for years in the report,” concluded Parrish. “The idea behind this research is to give a few tactical things that markets can implement immediately.”