Mobile Might Not Finish a Sale, but It's Vital in the Path to Purchase - eMarketer

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Mobile Might Not Finish a Sale, but It's Vital in the Path to Purchase

April 20, 2016


Jeff Campbell
Co-Founder and Managing Director
Resolution Media

Mobile advertising drives more store visits than desktop advertising, according to Jeff Campbell, co-founder and managing director of digital marketing agency Resolution Media. eMarketer’s Tricia Carr spoke with Campbell about the various ways mobile can influence consumers as the move through the path to purchase and why retailers should rethink the way they measure mobile advertising.

eMarketer: How is mobile changing the path to purchase?

Jeff Campbell: Mobile is like having a supercomputer in your pocket. Access to immediate knowledge and views of pricing is a game changer. The spontaneous purchase is not as spontaneous when you can instantly do research.

The path to purchase also has more touchpoints. Consumers are interacting with brands more, but in shorter increments—they go on their site, see an ad, go to their Facebook page, go in app and go in store. Mobile is driving less time spent in the store, because consumers already know what they want and they’ve done the research. Retargeting also drives it home.

eMarketer: Which of these touchpoints provides the biggest opportunity to influence consumer decisions?

Campbell: Retargeting is not new, but the way it’s done now with first-party data is the biggest area for growth and profitability that we see for our retail clients. Building look-alike models off of those is important as well.

“The use of beacons will likely have a short timeframe before they’re replaced with other mobile technology.”

Utilizing location is another opportunity. The use of beacons will likely have a short timeframe before they’re replaced with other mobile technology, but there’s a lot to learn from them about recognizing mobile devices, shopping behaviors and where you are physically in store.

Maybe you bought golf shoes, but you physically did not go near the golf section. Use that CRM data to say, “I know you’re an avid golfer because you bought $150 shoes, but you didn’t go near my apparel and clubs.” That’s ripe and brings it back to retargeting.

eMarketer: What are the biggest missed opportunities for retailers in the path to purchase?

Campbell: Lower mobile conversion rates still hinder mobile budget growth for the industry. Mobile, in general, has slow speeds and functionality and high complexity, which still plague most of the retailer apps and mobile sites. The Google AMP [Accelerated Mobile Pages] program will help in some categories, and that’ll start to bubble over into retailers.

However, we see mobile ads driving higher in-store visit rates than desktop ads. The innovative retailers aren’t holding mobile spend to traditional ROAS [return on ad spending] desktop rates. Retailers are missing some opportunities by not opening up to the fact that mobile may not be the finisher of a sale, but it’s an assist. It’s in the middle of the cycle.

“Mobile, in general, has slow speeds and functionality and high complexity, which still plague most of the retailer apps and mobile sites.”

eMarketer: How many retailers are doing online-to-offline measurement?

Campbell: There are a lot of programs out there now from Google, Yahoo and Facebook, and even different software and tried-and-true market holdout technologies, to measure the effect of online media dollars on in-store sales.

But a lot of retailers are slow to adopt these tests or recognize the results when they do have them. Many businesses still favor the separate profit and loss [P&L] of dot-com vs. the whole company. We don’t see enough retailers treating the entire path to purchase as one path vs. separating online and in store.

eMarketer: How much of in-store purchasing is influenced by mobile?

Campbell: From studies on CRM targeting to purchase and monitoring of mobile ad exposure to store visit, I estimate that there is a rough 15% to 20% post-exposure store visit and/or purchase rate for major retailers. This is typically higher than desktop rates.

True “influence” is difficult to measure, because these tests don’t show direct causation. Within the time a consumer is exposed to a mobile search or social ad, did that truly influence them? Was there a TV commercial before they visited the store? Measuring true incremental sales lift from mobile advertising should be on 2016 roadmaps.

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