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"I don't get enough marketing emails," said no one ever. In the pursuit of inbox zero, people use technology to file and delete promotional emails en masse without even blinking. This has many email marketers fighting a war of attrition. "If I fire off enough emails, consumers will eventually succumb to my messages, right?"

Think again. Your customers expect seamless and personal experiences across all channels and devices. Boring, impersonal, and irrelevant marketing emails are fast-tracked to the virtual trash bin. To truly maximize email's value, modern marketers must abandon the siloed campaign mindset and focus anew on their most valuable asset: customers.

Just as consumers use technology to expeditiously eliminate emails, smart marketers can use technology to change how they create and manage email content to drive better engagement and sales both on and offline. Parts of this strategic shift are about process while others are about outcomes. However, the unifying objective is the ability to market one-to-one with millions of customers simultaneously.

Despite consumers' propensity for ignoring emails, as a direct marketing channel, email continues to deliver the highest ROI.

Here are three ways email marketers can boost ROI even further with a new strategic approach supported by the right technology.

Automate workflow

For many, the rise of marketing automation heralded the end of creativity. While true in some cases, a potential decline or boost in creativity hinges on which tasks are automated.

For email marketers, the traditional campaign workflow often took hours or days. The process involves producing creative content (what marketers want to be doing); re-creating content from your website to fit the constraints of email templates (and re-doing this each time your content changes); converting that content into responsive HTML; editing; then finally exporting and sending. In fact, the process unfortunately often defines the campaign.

Automating certain tedious workflow tasks such as re-creating website content for your email can significantly reduce production time and costs. This way, site content that changes such as hotel prices and product availability can be reflected in real time the moment someone opens the email -- freeing you up from busy work to focus on what you love most: creative marketing.

Optimize content

E-commerce brands constantly run A/B and multivariate tests (there is a difference) on their websites to optimize content, calls-to-action such as "add to cart" buttons, and even ads. Does orange outperform blue? Where on the page does the button convert the most sales?

In the same way, brands can gain insights based on real-time testing and analytics with their emails. Historically, email marketers would need to segment their customers ahead of time, send out different versions of an email, wait for the results to come back, and then redeploy.

According to Salesforce's 2015 State of Marketing report, 23 percent of marketers don't know what device emails are read on. Today, with the right technology, email marketers can not only know if a customer is opening an email on a desktop, tablet, or phone, you can automatically test and optimize based on device and other factors such as copy or images -- even after you've hit send.

Personalize content

Like content marketing before it, contextual marketing has become an overused buzzword. So what does it really mean and how does it apply to email marketing?

At its best, contextual marketing actually ceases to be about selling (campaign-focused) and becomes purely about providing individuals with something they want or need based on their context (customer-focused). Think about the guy yelling "umbrellas here!" as you walk out of your office wearing a new suit into a downpour. That's contextual marketing in the real world.

Now, imagine the ability to replicate that in the digital world and reach millions of people all at once -- offering umbrellas to people in a rainstorm, ice cold lemonade to people where it's hot outside, or a cup of joe to people where it's chilly.

With email's scale and the right technology, marketers can personalize messages for every recipient based on a customer's name, location, the time of day, weather, device, product availability, past purchases, and more -- making sure that content is always relevant. A singular focus on customers' needs and wants is what moves contextual marketing from buzzword to an actual way for marketers to think and act.

It can be hard to stop thinking about marketing in terms of campaigns. The campaign has always defined what marketers do. However, by altering both process and content with a focus on customers, marketers can transform email for greater success.

Vivek Sharma is CEO of Movable Ink.

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The maturation of the internet just so happened to collide with the new millennium, and there have been several growing pain points for brands since. Some brands have excelled while others have bitten off way more than they can chew.

When it comes to reinvigoration of a brand, there are ways to do it right, and surefire ways to screw it up. Here are unique examples of big brands that fell flat on their faces when trying to freshen their image.

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In 2003, an astronomer saw a new object in the sky, way out beyond our ninth planet, Pluto. This body was larger than Pluto and became known as Eris. Discovering Eris forever changed the way we view our solar system because it resulted in a re-categorizing of what we call a planet. Pluto and Eris -- due to their comparatively small size and distance from other planets more local to our solar system -- are now in a new, secondary category called "dwarf planets."

In digital advertising, we are at a similar intersection with ad "impressions." Given our improving technology and better understanding of consumer behavior, the advertising industry is now reconsidering how we define an impression in much the same way that astronomers reconsidered the definition of a planet. We now have two types of impressions: served and viewed. Served impressions are served via technical means to a web browser, but a consumer may have never viewed them; Instead, viewed impressions suggest that the ad has been served and viewed by a consumer. Given this re-categorization, perhaps the time has come, as it did for Pluto, that an impression is no longer considered a reliable form of ad response measurement.

This topic is still fresh (and a bit fuzzy) in most people's mind and there are more questions than answers, though the Internet Advertising Bureau appears to be working to sort things out. To help un-muddy the waters, we've put together this brief guide to viewability for digital advertisers.

What's the big deal?

The big deal is this philosophical conundrum: Do advertisers pay for ads that are never seen by consumers? Typically, the answer could be "yes." Digital advertising, like radio, TV, and print is somewhat based on an ad's "opportunity to be seen" by consumers. Just as a radio listener may turn down the volume during an ad or a television viewer may go to the bathroom during a commercial, there is no truly scientific way to count each individual's presence and attentiveness for the duration of an ad. Advertisers are buying the ads' opportunity to be seen or heard by an estimated audience. Impressions are similar. Some ads may appear below the fold -- near the bottom of the web page -- and are never seen by the consumer, much less properly digested, read, or understood. Previously, impressions indicated that the ad loaded into the page -- nothing more. So, this is a big deal. In digital advertising where everything can presumably be measured, why are so many paid impressions not being viewed by consumers?

How are viewable ads measured now?

IAB considers an ad viewable on a desktop computer if 50 percent of the ads' pixels are in view for a minimum of 1 second. For video, 50 percent is required for 2 seconds. For larger display ad units, 30 percent is required for at least 1 second.

Jeff Burkett, a product strategist at The Washington Post, wrote for Digiday his views on what he calls "dark media," where he points the finger at ad measurements firms, claiming they miss out on 30 percent of viewable impressions through failed measurement. He refers to this 30 percent as "dark media" and claims it amounts to fraud by the measurement firm and lost revenue by the publisher who ran the ad. The MRC backs him up (indirectly) by saying that non-measured ads should not be considered non-viewable simply because they were not captured. Burkett told Digiday that it's a "flaw in some vendor's technology."

What's the IAB saying?

It's the Internet Advertising Bureau's responsibility to be an advocate for both advertiser and publisher, and find some common ground by which to accurately measure an ad's performance. For Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of the IAB, a Town Hall in late 2014 was his opportunity to make a definitive statement on the organization's future course of action on viewability. He said, "100 percent (viewability) is currently unreasonable. Why? Because different ad units, browsers, ad placements, vendors, and measurement methodologies yield wildly different viewability numbers." The IAB went on to suggest that 70 percent viewability was more reasonable given inconsistencies in measurement (perhaps indicative of Burkett's 30 percent dark media claim). Basically, some ad formats are not consistently measurable. However, because accurate measurement makes digital more compelling than any other form of advertising, time will tell how quickly we can find an agreeable technology solution. No doubt it will happen�some say it already has.

How is technology being utilized?

Some say we have the technology today (perhaps we always have) to measure 100 percent of ad impressions. Commonly used programming language for delivery of ads is Javascript, which "lazy loads" ads into browsers once the page scroll hits the ad, preventing an ad from being loaded into a browser (web page) premature to its viewing.

Google's Active View is a leading technology that claims to be able to measure 100 percent of ads, giving publishers the ability to charge appropriately for viewed and non-viewed ads. Moat is another that is measuring "in-view impressions," meaning that the ad must be in-view of the consumer for 1 second or more, in alignment with the IAB's new standards. With accurate measurement of an ad's performance, publishers can appropriately charge for the ad without the mystery of paying for non-viewable ads or even non-human viewed ads.

Impact of website and mobile design

Of course, there are others that blame web and mobile design formats that create ad space not mapped to users viewing patterns. Creating ad space below the fold doesn't necessarily drive the type of viewable impressions that advertisers want.

Where do we go from here?

Late last year, the IAB put forth eight recommendations for both advertiser and publisher to find common ground in measurement of impressions and proper viewability. They were heavily publicized and praised, but worth repeating here in full:

IAB principles for 2015 for the road to viewability:

  1. All billing should continue to be based on the number of served impressions during a campaign, and these should be separated into two categories: measured and non-measured.
  2. Given the limitations of current technology, and the publisher-observed variances in measurement of 30-40 percent, it is recommended that in this year of transition, measured impressions be held to a 70 percent viewability threshold.
  3. If a campaign does not achieve the 70 percent viewability threshold for measured impressions, publishers will make good with additional viewable impressions until the threshold is met. Such a guarantee ensures that all paid measurable ad impressions will be viewable at a threshold that both exceeds the minimum standard and falls within observed variances.
  4. To illustrate how the 70 percent threshold will work, assume: a campaign delivers 10 Million served impressions; of those served impressions, 8 Million were measurable; of the measured impressions, 5 Million (62.5 percent) were viewable. In this case, the publisher would need to deliver 600,000 additional viewable impressions to reach the 70 percent threshold and make good. The agency will be billed for 10 Million impressions assuming full make-good.
  5. All make-goods should be in the form of additional viewable impressions, not cash, and should be delivered in a reasonable time frame. Make-good impressions should be both viewable and generally consistent with inventory that was purchased in the original campaign. Determination of threshold achievement is based on total campaign impressions, not by each line item. In other words, some line items may not achieve threshold, but others can compensate.
  6. For large format ads, defined as 242,500 pixels or over, a viewable impression is counted if 30 percent of the pixels of the ad are viewable for a minimum of one continuous second.
  7. All transactions between buyers and sellers should use MRC accredited vendors only.
  8. A buyer and a seller should agree on a single measurement vendor ahead of time. The industry aspires to variances of no more than 10 percent between viewability measures provided by different vendors. All stakeholders must avoid costly, labor-intensive, error-prone manual processes of reconciling different sets of viewability numbers, hence the benefits of agreeing on a single vendor.

Lori Goldberg is the CEO of Silverlight Digital.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

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Twenty years and hundreds of new business pitches. I won them all, made no mistakes whatsoever, and every single pitch was a smooth as a baby's bottom. Well, not exactly. And quantifying success-to-fail ratios in the art and science of new business in the agency world is difficult at best.

Some you win, but many of what one might consider a loss have little or nothing to do with the agency's pitching skills. There are so many factors that go into agency selection today that it's difficult to determine exactly what may have gone wrong. In other words, sometimes you do everything right and you still don't end up with a "win."

On the other hand, I've had the unfortunate privilege of experiencing (either first hand, or from the cheap seats) a lot of less-than-smart moves an agency can make while trying to execute the most costly journey an agency must embark upon: getting new clients.

Ignore the request for proposal (RFP)

A request for proposal in the agency world is like a cattle call. Sometimes clients send them out because they have to and due diligence demands it. A burning desire to change agencies isn't always the driving force behind the request. Asking a group of agencies to come in and pitch a specific aspect of their business is a time consuming process on both sides of the equation.

An RFP for large business can read like "War and Peace," and while winning the business might prove to be worthwhile, if you're not taking the time to dissect the contents and understand what is being requested of potential partners, you owe it to yourself to politely decline to participate.

You can ask all kinds of questions. You'd be surprised how well clients respond to detailed Q&As, particularly if said questions weren't in the RFP. And therein lies the problem, since the win-to-loss ratio can be really high, a lot of agencies simply ignore the contents and move right into asking their standard or scripted questions. If the answer to your question is on page 74 of the accompanying RFP brief, you've already lost.

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Adperio is proud to announce the beta release of its mobile compliance tool, AppVault. 

Barton F. Graf 9000 announced it will be partnering with The Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) for a new campaign to increase awareness of the creative power of OOH advertising.

Believe Entertainment Group announced that former Yahoo creative executive, Brian Hunt, has joined the company as EVP, head of development.

Collective announced the launch of VISTO� -- a new, fully transparent, self-service interface for the programmatic industry -- and an agreement with Allscope Media, which will immediately benefit from this new technology.

Drawbridge, a cross-device technology company, and Kenshoo, an agile marketing software company, announced a new partnership.

Finger Music have worked with YouTube pen tapping sensations Shane Bang and Kevin Ke to create Microsoft Surface 3's beat on the latest campaign.

GumGum, the largest in-image advertising provider for publishers and brands, announced the appointment of Ben Plomion to the role of senior vice president of marketing.

INNOCEAN USA, a full-service advertising agency headquartered in Huntington Beach, California, announced that Jon Farjo has joined the agency as VP, user experience.

Kahuna, the leading marketing automation solution for mobile, announced its latest product, Dynamic Audiences.

Kwittken has just hired Betsy Cooper as managing director of Kwittken Toronto, its Canadian headquarters.

Magnetic announced that it is merging with MyBuys, the leader in multi-channel marketing and personalization.

Mobext, Havas Media's mobile arm, has appointed Warren Zenna as EVP, managing director, U.S.

Oban Digital, a digital marketing agency, is offering a free download of a nine-chapter book by online communication authority and university professor, Donald L. Dunnington.

Simulmedia announced that Peter Giordano has been promoted to vice president of marketing

Syncfusion announced new updates to the Syncfusion Big Data Platform that will allow for multiple-node clusters and can be scaled as needed.

Tahzoo, a leading provider of digital Customer Experience (CX) consulting services and solutions, announced it has acquired Netherlands-based digital agency HintTech.

VideoAmp, a software and data platform for TV and video marketers, appointed Jay Prasad as the company's first chief business officer.

YouAppi announced that it is launching a new version of its OneRun Platform.

Editor's note: This column publishes twice per month, and we are always looking for industry announcements, so please email them to agata@imediaconnection.com.

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A true differentiator for mobile is the ability to reach people in key locations through hyperlocal targeting. But is this really possible at present? I'd like to explore the facts -- and fiction -- around one of the latest buzzwords in mobile: hyperlocal targeting.

A location is not just a location. "Hyperlocal" in mobile ad tech is one of the hottest buzz words around. As with any hot technology, there are many misnomers and misrepresentations of what hyperlocal can do. To be honest, there's also confusion around when, and under what context it should be used.

Potential pitfall No. 1: Is the target really where you think they are?
Let's start with accuracy of location. It appears that there are huge volumes of hyperlocal inventory available simply because a latitude and longitude are present within the ad space. The problem however, is that only about 20 percent of these coordinates are derived from accurate GPS. The rest are IP addresses that are reversed by publishers into coordinates to appear more valuable. For these 80 percent, the coordinates, or the actual location of the individual, may be miles away from where they really are.

Potential pitfall No. 2: How many people can you actually reach?
Scale is another topic that needs to be considered. The allure of hyperlocal targeting is the ability to target someone in a store, a dealer lot, or some other very precise location. While the technology affords this type of targeting, the reality is, how many individuals will you actually see within a location at any given time? And, of those individuals that are in the specific location, how many happen to be browsing their phone (and concentrating on an advertisement) at that precise time? For brands to move the needle, this narrow approach could be limiting. 

How can advertisers do hyperlocal right?

The above doesn't necessarily mean that location can't be useful. Location-based targeting can be a big asset when it's done right. Geo-spatial data -- which is a mixture of an individual's geo, time patterns, and behaviors -- can tell us a great story. Geo-spatial data far surpasses the typical latitude and longitude measurements, and is much more effective, as this data can be analyzed to create audiences and infer possible in-market conditions. An easy example is an analysis of a consumer who in the last week has physically visited an automotive dealer lot. With some data science techniques, it is possible to infer whether they work at the dealer or if they are a consumer who may be shopping. Similarly, we can tell if consumer shops big box, grocery, or boutique.

The most important thing for advertisers and brands to be aware of is that hyperlocal is only one variable within a fully-functional campaign. Putting a fence around a location and plastering it with ads is not the best use case and will waste brand dollars. A multivariate approach analyzing geo locations and behaviors as part of the mix is a more sensible approach.

Univariate vs. multivariate

Let's take a look at two examples: one with a univariate approach tapping solely hyperlocal triggers, and the other a multivariate approach factoring in location and other variables to determine where and when we serve an ad.

Hyperlocal only: An ad space from Bird Game App Publisher becomes available at 10:02 a.m. for User ID 1234568908, which we identify via first and third party data as a "big box shopper" within a geo fence for Acme Grocery Retail. We serve that ID an advertisement based on location alone.

Multivariate approach: An ad space from Bird Game App Publisher becomes available at 10:02 a.m. for User ID 1234568908, which we identify via first and third party data as a "big box shopper" within a geo fence for Acme Grocery Retail. We don't serve an ad to this user. Why? Because historical data tells us that when we look at all the variables here this user will not react to this ad. Why again? Because the combined data (publisher/time/segment, etc.) tells us they have most likely passed their phone back to their 3-year-old child to play a game within the store. We saved this impression for a better probable outcome.

The moral of the above story is we need to expand our visibility before serving the ad beyond the location itself.

The future for geo-based marketing is promising. Our ability to understand human behavior via locations will help us be better marketers. The advent of beacons will also move us closer to both validating our drive-to-store efforts via attribution and allow us to increase our scale within hyperlocal environments. However, regardless of the advancements we make in "hyperlocal," we should not think of this execution separate from overall brand goals. It is one silo of many that must be executed successfully to create lift for brands. 

Anthony Iacovone is CEO and founder at AdTheorent.

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Replacing cold-calling with LinkedIn network connecting

There's no shortage of cold-calling marketers that must do. It's a necessary evil, and everyone has their own awkward horror stories of how some of them go down. Here's a tip: Instead of picking up the phone, calling, and hoping for the best with a potential prospect, client or candidate, utilize your LinkedIn network to create a personal introduction via your connections. If you're like most in this industry, your connection list is massive. Everybody knows everybody through some small degree of separation. Spend some time finding a pathway to your prospect through your existing LinkedIn network and you could find much greater success that a roll-of-the-dice phone call.

Vik Kathuria, global chief media officer at Razorfish, speaks to iMedia about unique ways to use LinkedIn's networks and existing connections.

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Article written by media production manager David Zaleski and video edited by associate media producer Brian Waters.

"KIEV, UKRAINE - MARCH 7, 2015: Hand holds Linkedin logo sign printed on paper on white background." image via Shutterstock.

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No doubt most retailers and marketers are familiar with the term "omni-channel." In an age where we are always on and always connected, the holy grail for retailers is the ability to correlate and track customers across their entire shopping journey, from site to store. Enter mobile.

Mobile is becoming the first thing that retailers consider when carving out a marketing strategy, and with the rise of hardware devices and technology such as mobile payments, beacons and wearables, now more than ever, mobile is becoming the missing puzzle piece in the shopping experience. In fact, recent studies including one recently conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), show that more than half of shoppers (58 percent) prefer to look up information on their mobile device while shopping, rather than talk to an in-store employee. The CEA also reported that 60 percent of mobile shoppers use their devices for assistance when shopping for electronics in-store. It is evident that mobile has become a shopper's companion in-store.

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Television is dead, long live television. All right, that statement is a bit extreme, but there is a kernel of truth to it. Traditional TV viewing was experiencing a steady 4 percent yearly decline among Millennials before plummeting last quarter. According to a recent New York Post article, viewership fell by 11 percent in Q4. This trend will become more pronounced as digital natives who grew up with instant access to endless entertainment like "Dora the Explorer," "Kidz Bop," and "Angry Birds" come of age. Though this news sounds grim, it is actually promising for the TV industry. 
 
Unlike newspaper proprietors who insisted online was just a fad, television executives are jumping into this transformation headfirst. For evidence, look no further than the bevy of streaming services already available like Hulu, Amazon Prime, Crackle, and Sling TV. This list doesn't even include the networks that are providing free content on their sites. 
 
MediaPost reports that in just five years, only 18 percent of U.S. consumers plan to watch most of their content on paid TV. So, what does this behavior shift and television's response mean for marketers? See below for four effects of this movement.

Importance of campaign integration

Per this ComScore infographic, live viewership of broadcast TV is down 30 percent since 2008. However, Variety reports that CBS primetime is generating more viewers now than it did in 2003. How can both stats be true? It's not that consumers, especially younger ones, are watching less TV. Instead, how people are watching TV is evolving, with online video experiencing a 53 percent increase among adults 18-34, according to MediaLife
 
As viewers interact with content via their preferred medium, consistent brand messaging becomes paramount. Marketers can no longer treat traditional and digital campaigns as separate entities because, to customers, they're one in the same. Consumers don't think "I'm watching Arrow on my iPad." It's just TV, no matter the device. Snickers, for example, does an excellent job of using the same creative voice and tone across media. 
 
While best practices are consistent regardless of vehicle, the biggest obstacle in the shift to digital video is length. The standard 30-second spot feels longer than "Lawrence of Arabia" online. This makes conveying your message in the preferred 15 seconds essential and challenging. Check out this eMarketer webinar for some best practices tips, like clearly defining your target audience, and success metrics.

Improved targeting

As more television is consumed on personal devices, the switch from buying ads per panel-based demographics to digital behaviors begins to take shape. Targeting criteria like browsing habits, purchase history, and social media profiles is already standard for online campaigns. With all the data available, you can imagine an athletic company delivering an ad during "The Walking Dead" for running shorts instead of soccer cleats based on a customer's latest Meerkat stream. 
 
That is just the beginning -- targeting options like location or smartwatch data will also become available, as LTE capabilities improve and mobile video consumption expands. Smartphones already account for more than 30 percent of all digital TV time, according to ComScore
 
Hopefully, improved targeting capabilities means ads are more likely to resonate with the audience -- and in turn, yield better results. However, to be truly successful requires more creative executions, which require both additional time and money. While the potential costs and benefits should be weighed, failing to utilize the technology is like producing ads in standard definition instead of HDTV -- cheaper, but not nearly as effective.

More reliable reporting needed

Television's elephant in the room is Nielsen ratings. For years, millions of dollars have been allocated based on small sample sizes and personal journals. MediaPost reports that, effective October 1, Nielsen will no longer use diaries in small and mid-size markets. However, the bigger story is that we're still using the same reporting methodology today that was used 15 years before the moon landing. 
 
A viable competitor in Rentrak has finally emerged, but it is likely too little too late. Rentrak isn't MRC accredited yet, is quite expensive, and doesn't solve the multi-screen consumption problem. Unsurprisingly (since it makes their numbers look better), TV networks are leading the charge in comprehensive reporting, but this is an obvious conflict of interest. Until an independent third party system is developed, media buyers -- and their client's dollars -- are at the mercy of antiqued techniques. There is a fortune to be made in finding the solution, and the data is available, but swift aggregation is the problem.

Appointment viewing premiums

Giving consumers the power to decide how, and when, to watch television has created fewer and fewer watercooler moments. In turn, this has placed increased importance on appointment viewing. Appointment viewing is simply TV that people make sure to watch live. These DVR-proof programs primarily consist of award shows, sporting events, and premieres or finales of prominent shows and brands will pay a premium to be associated with them. 
 
Looking at trends for the Super Bowl, the flagship of appointment viewing, Vox reports that viewership has tripled while media costs are up 100 times. A captive and engaged audience is a rarity that marketers will have to pay handsomely to reach. 
 
Television learned its lesson from newspaper's unwillingness to adapt. As a result, the major media brands have positioned themselves for continued success. Even if acclimation is slow, this behavioral shift will continue. Viewing habits, as Cynthia Littleton from Variety reported, have accelerated to a gallop this season, and they show no sign of slowing down. 
 
Jamie Stewart is media director at redpepper.
 
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More and more brands are convinced that they must take ownership of their customer data. The burgeoning DMP business is a testament to the idea that marketers want to create and control customer profiles, leverage insights across their marketing programs, and keep their data safe. There's also growing awareness of the need to collect and measure activity across mobile screens in addition to PCs, and to combine mobile behavior data with PC-based data to develop comprehensive customer profiles. This primer outlines the challenges of collecting, measuring, and combining mobile data along with tips on how to make it happen at your organization.

But first: Why you should care

A few years ago, U.S. marketers might safely postpone addressing the mobile data "gap" because relatively little consumer time was spent in apps. But things have changed in a very big way -- and a lot more quickly than most people expected.

In 2014, comScore reported that time spent on mobile devices accounted for a full 60 percent of U.S. connected time. Even more interesting is that 52 percent of total connected time takes place in apps rather than on the web. This is significant because you can't collect data in apps the same way you do on the PC web. Net, without collecting mobile data, means that you're missing out on a massive proportion of the signals consumers are sending as to what they care about. That's why mobile data matters. This is particularly true if you have an app and use it to drive m-commerce.

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