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New mobile media measurement tools "modest but much needed"

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5th Feb 2010
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Ovum has described the first in a proposed suite of tools to measure mobile media consumption as a "modest but much needed first step" in defining a commercial framework for mobile advertising.

Eden Zoller, a principal analyst at the research house, said that the sector had so far failed to generate significant revenues because of a "lack of standardised metrics for measuring audience engagement".

Despite the fact that the market had been around for a decade and had high levels of interest from advertisers, most companies beyond big brand names such as Coca Cola and Unilever did not automatically include it in their budgets.

But the lack of a "well-defined commercial framework" had created a fragmented market and made it "harder for brands to do business", said Zoller. Because they lacked the necessary tools to "learn about user behaviour and measure audience engagement – both important elements in making the case for a clear ROI - they saw mobile advertising as a 'risky proposition'," she added.

But the GSM Association (GSMA), which represents nearly 800 mobile operators, hopes that the UK launch of its Mobile Media Metrics service will boost market growth by providing customers with anonymised mobile internet usage data from the country’s five providers – O2, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and 3UK.

This behavioural information is also complemented by basic demographic data collected by market research firm comScore on an opt-in basis from a panel of several thousand mobile users, according to Zoller.

The data is independently verified by auditors ABC Electronics and includes numbers of unique visitors, page impressions and time spent on different sites. Advertisers can also filter information by device features and according to classifications, which include social media, travel and sport.

While Zoller said that there were still gaps in the data, the GSMA did intend to add other formats such as video, messaging, search and applications and to expand the number of people involved in demographic data collection. It also planned to work with Kantor Media’s Target Group Index to incorporate mobile metrics into a "broader media mix", she added.

Although the Association had now "created foundations that should see the metrics develop into a standardised tool with global reach", this would not in and of itself cause a "massive overnight growth" in mobile advertising, however, Zoller warned.

But it should "instil more confidence and hopefully persuade so far unconvinced advertisers that mobile advertising has finally come of age," she added.

The Mobile Media Metrics study found, meanwhile, that 16 million people in the UK accessed the internet from their mobile ‘phones in December 2009, viewing a total of 6.7 billion web pages and spending 4.8 billion minutes online.

Facebook was the most popular mobile site in terms of numbers of unique visitors and amount of time spent on it. It also accounted for almost half of all page views, beating the Google search engine in all categories.

In addition, while smartphone users represented only just under a third of the total UK mobile internet audience, they undertake 47% of all page views and were responsible for 51% of the time spent online.

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