Posted By, Eden Zoller @ Ovum
The GSMA, in partnership with ComScore, has released the first cut of what it hopes will become industry-standard metrics for mobile advertising. The metrics are based on anonymised browsing data gathered from all five UK operators’ subscriber bases. These behavioural metrics are complemented by some basic demographic data collected on an opt-in basis from a small panel of mobile users. The mobile metrics are currently confined to the UK, but there are plans to expand to other markets. The GSMA mobile metrics are a modest but much-needed first step and should be welcomed as they address one of the key factors that has slowed mobile advertising: the lack of standardised metrics for measuring audience engagement.
The lack of a transparent, commercial framework has slowed growth
Mobile advertising has been with us for a decade but has yet to generate significant revenues. This is despite the fact that mobile as a channel has a lot to offer (rich user data, fine-tuned targeting, personalisation and interactivity, to name a few) and brands and agencies are without doubt interested. But for most brands outside the ranks of Coca Cola and Unilever, mobile advertising is still not an automatic part of their budget. A major reason for this is because the mobile advertising market has been very slow to create a well-defined commercial framework, which has resulted in a fragmented market and has made it harder for brands to do business. A cornerstone of this commercial framework is standardised metrics, and unlike print publishing, Internet and TV, there have been no widely established metrics in place for mobile advertising. This makes it a risky proposition for advertisers, which basically lack the tools they need to learn about user behaviour and measure audience engagement – both important elements in making the case for a clear ROI.
Foundations for a more robust mobile advertising market
ComScore collates the data on behalf of the GSMA and provides it to the advertising community along with associated tools. The data is independently verified by auditors ABC Electronics. The GSMA has been laying the foundations for the mobile metrics for the past 18 months. This includes looking at security and technical issues, as well as working with regulatory authorities and other industry bodies such as the Mobile Marketing Association and Internet Advertising Bureau to ensure a coherent approach.
The behavioural insights provided by the current metrics include the number of unique visitors, the number of page impressions and time spent on any given site. Additional features include the ability to filter by device features and a directory classification of sites (such as social media, travel or sport).
There are of course still gaps in the data, and the GSMA intends to address these with what appears to be a well thought through road map. For example, it intends to expand the metrics to other formats such as video, messaging, search and applications. Another objective is to expand the demographics, which are currently based on a small panel in the thousands. It will also work with market research firm TGI to incorporate the mobile metrics into a broader media mix. Alongside this is a commitment to roll out the metrics across other operators and geographies outside the UK – the GSMA is already in talks about this.
The GSMA has the goodwill of the industry behind it, and has created foundations that should see the metrics develop into a standardised tool with global reach. This will not in itself cause massive overnight growth in mobile advertising, but it should instil more confidence and hopefully persuade so far unconvinced advertisers that mobile advertising has finally come of age.