Retailers dabbled with mobile advertising in its early stages, but their focus was primarily elsewhere. Not anymore. Mobile advertising expenditures still pale next to overall marketing spend, but as mobile capabilities deepen, retailers are spending more, and on more types of mobile advertising.
eMarketer estimates 120 million US consumers use their smartphones and tablets while shopping, browsing for new deals, researching options and buying products. And they don't stop using their phones when entering a store. They're checking competitor prices, asking friends for advice and reading reviews while strolling down the aisles. Mobile has erased the hard divide between the physical store and ecommerce. Retail is ground zero for the evolving commerce and media landscape.
This report looks at how retailers—as advertisers—are responding to mobile. It takes a brief look at the overall size of retail mobile advertising spend, and then examines the uses of mobile advertising at various points along the purchase path. Different mobile advertising formats suit different goals, although in practice there is increasing fluidity in how advertisers deploy different types of ads. As is true everywhere in digital advertising, lines are blurring.
Unlike advertising in tethered media, mobile advertising allows retailers to reach their customers at every stage of the decision-making process, inside the store or out. Lured by the promise of influencing the whole purchase-decision path, retailers have adopted mobile more quickly than other industries. From location-based ads informing shoppers of a nearby store that might interest them to mobile search ads to in-store ads offering discounts for nearby products, retailers are experimenting with new ways to reach and convince consumers to visit a store or download a shopping app.
In a study from mobile ad network Millennial Media, retail and restaurants made up 16% of all mobile ad campaigns on its network in 2012, more than any other industry surveyed.
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