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A hybrid approach, combining mobile analytics and standard digital analytics, helps marketers decide where to focus their efforts PHOTO: Rudi Strydom

Ask any parent, and you’ll hear plenty of stories about how time seems to fly from the day their children are born until they’re walking, talking and heading off to school. These days, the transitions taking place in mobile analytics seem to be happening with equal speed.

At its inception, the measurement of mobile media was a crawl compared with other analytics processes. Its singular focus seemed to be on count metrics such as measuring the number of visits or app downloads.

But as more and more people embraced mobile devices, mobile analytics went from taking those baby steps to reflecting multiple dimensions and metrics in their reporting capabilities.

Measuring Dynamic Mobile Usage

Today, mobile analytics have become a vital gateway for gaining insight into how well various user personas are being engaged.

When marketers first began to analyze mobile engagement, they treated mobile as a channel, just as they had earlier with websites and the internet. It took beacons, apps, mobile ads and social media to show just how dynamic the potential for cross-device activity could be.

Aligning Media With Platforms

To harness that potential, however, analytics has had to evolve in ways capable of comparing media engagement across multiple channels.

The dynamics of social media further changed the game, creating a strong need for marketers to understand how their media approaches were aligning to the nuances of each platform.

For example, on Instagram and Pinterest, the emphasis on images works well for items with visual details, while many brands like Oreo cookies use Twitter to cultivate a playful image with audiences through real-time commentary and inspirational memes. Large brands and digital natives alike have been able to identify and cultivate various subgroups by targeting their interests and leveraging them using different social media platforms.

Targeting Small and Specialized Audiences

Those specialized interests have driven mobile ad usage because digital ads are often uniquely effective in precision-targeting small or specialized audience segments. And with subgroups already established on social media, mobile ads can be tailored to appeal to those groups.

Platforms are also finding ways to utilize this targeting potential by developing their own mobile ad formats. For instance, Facebook has introduced what it calls lifestyle templates, that piggyback on its Collection ad format to simulate the look of print catalogues. For customers, the format provides mobile, full-screen experiences that allow them to click and immediately purchase.

These diversified ad formats have become highly lucrative for social media platforms themselves. In 2012, Facebook booked no revenue from mobile ads, whereas by the end of 2016, 84 percent of Facebook’s advertising revenue was coming from mobile ads.

Tracking Mobile Social Media Usage

All of these influences mean marketers must seek analytics that monitor the quality of demographic and media activity within mobile visitor traffic to index how well a brand presence is reaching its intended audience.

Marketers can use a number of existing social media options as a starting point. Most social media platforms provide demographics reports. Because most people access social media platforms through mobile devices, those metrics can generally be used as first-level reporting on how well advertising is doing its job.

Marketers can also look at the demographics reports to gain a sense of how different personas are interacting with social media through mobile devices. This feedback is essential for mobile ads, as well, because the reports can provide valuable context for comparisons between ad messages and the audience potentially seeing those messages.

Targeting Marketing Resources Deployment

The typical reports available include standard demographics, such as male versus female and age. For example, an analysis of Twitter Analytics might be used to gauge and target a Twitter audience that might be enticed to visit a website.

Standard digital analytics solutions like Adobe and Google include demographics as well, and they can be valuable for ranking digital media channels against each other in terms of their effectiveness in attracting target audiences. In many instances, reports can be filtered to examine mobile-only traffic, which can provide a valuable guide to where marketing resources can be best deployed.

Location-Based Advertising Strategies

Combining mobile analytics and standard digital analytics can help marketers target where they are generally attracting visitors. A hybrid approach can also help marketers get a sense of where they should focus their marketing further.

For example, imagine being able to adjust billboard spending so that content appears in areas where potential consumers can act on messages more readily, steps that could then lead to creating a cross-device strategy that lets those billboard viewers, ‘Buy Online, Pay In Store’ (BOPIS) or ‘Buy Online, Return In Store’ (BORIS).

Mobile Analytics Mean Better Customer Experience

Mobile analytics is the first-level approach to investigating how to attract an intended audience. The effort is no longer an easy jog, and in fact, can feel like a marathon.

But just like babies and toddlers who gain skills and knowledge as they grow, marketers using mobile analytics can gain a greater understanding of how to lead customers toward the kinds of meaningful customer experiences that create sales.

Editor's Note: Hear Pierre discuss the growing trend of Voice Search Queries at CMSWire's DX Summit, taking place Nov. 13 to Nov. 15 in Chicago