Some 86% of US consumers' time on a mobile device is spent in apps, compared with the 14% spent in browsers, according to a recent study by mobile analytics firm Flurry.
That study is one of many confirming the trajectory of mobile usage is shifting to apps, with the browser becoming one app among many.
As a result, publishers are pushing Web users to their apps from their websites because they can drive more value and provide a better experience in their apps. To keep up, brands and agencies urgently need to reevaluate their advertising strategies to accommodate this change—or they risk consumers leaving them behind.
Targeting moves from Web to mobile
When advertising on the Web, advertisers rely on cookies or beacons to track users' interests and purchasing decisions. Yet, as advertisers began to focus more on mobile, it became very apparent that this form of tracking didn't convert easily or reliably. Many features—like methods for tracking, storing user search history, and using that data to direct users to similar content—did not apply or work in the same way on mobile. That's understandable as cookies were not designed for mobile.
So, advertisers have found new ways to track and serve ads across devices.
One way is by using device IDs to target audiences. For iOS, the only way to offer targeted ads across its network is through the Identifier for Advertising (IDFA) Apple's preferred ad tracking method, which is a non-permanent device identifier. If developers do not use this, Apple can reject the app. With this identifier, advertisers can target users without Web-based cookies, which are limited to a single device and can be cleared or have expiration dates.
Benefits of Apps
Apps generally provide users with a more engaging experience than the mobile Web version.
For example, users open the Facebook app more frequently than they do the mobile Web version, and sessions are longer. That increased engagement also allows advertisers to access more accurate and persistent targeting. Deep linking of the identifier in the app allows the advertisement to be served at its most relevant point, which enables higher conversion rates.
Another benefit of apps is the ability for advertisers to re-target app users. They can monitor and be aware of how much time has passed since a user has interacted with their brand. Advertisers can use this as a way to re-engage with target audiences when a user has dropped off.
Let's say, in the case of a game app, if the developer wants to know the length of time since the user has last played, they can track that information and be aware of when to check back in to re-engage the player. In this case, the user might see an ad with free coins for the game or that a new level is available for them to play.
Mobile apps also offer location-based targeting. BIA/Kelsey expects locally targeted mobile ads will represent 52% of overall US mobile ad spending by 2018.
Almost every different type of advertiser can benefit from running geo-specific and targeted campaigns based on the information they can obtain from users' mobile activity. Many available solutions available can measure the impact of how this type of exposure to an ad within an app can drive people into the retail store locations.
Even if an app is a microsite of a brand's website, it still offers more to advertisers than a mobile website. In an app, advertisers don't have to rely only the information stored on the device but can also tap into information within from the apps for better customer engagement, and better attribution.
Within apps, you can easily track whether the user has reviewed the material, and made a purchase based on the ad.
Apps offer consumers tailored and higher-quality ad experiences
To begin with, mobile device users can be in charge of the content being shown to them, giving them the power to provide advertisers with the information they need to deliver the content they need to each individual. They can use push-based notifications to provide them with the content. For example, when you download an app, you are asked whether you want notifications delivered to your device. At that point, the user does not need to take additional actions.
On the Web, where content is pull-based, ads are only delivered when you come to a website that has contracted an ad to be displayed.
For example, Google only delivers Adwords ads when you perform a search, or HGTV will only deliver a Home Depot ad when you go to its website, and there is no opt-out.
Mobile devices are also being optimized for video content: screens are bigger, and 4G networks and WiFi capabilities are ubiquitous.
All those features open up a whole new world of advertising opportunities. Users are now accessing higher-quality videos on mobile than ever due to the Netflixes and YouTubes of the world. Advertisers can tap into this trend and deliver high quality non-interruptive video advertisements to viewers. This, coupled with the capabilities mentioned above, is why US ad spending for mobile video is estimated to grow to nearly $2.1 billion in 2016.
The best part: this type of video advertising can be easily created and tailored to fit the needs of an brand's mobile app. Developers can create these ad units and easily add them to their apps with a few lines of code via an SDK.
Which mobile ad strategy best suits your brand?
Mobile advertising opens up a whole new world of opportunities previously not available to brands. Now brand advertisers can tap into existing customers and accurately target new customers by using the capacities enabled by apps.
As mobile continues to develop and grow, advertisers and brands must determine which strategies best fit their audience's needs.