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Great Ads Aren't Enough: Optimizing the Mobile Commerce Experience

January 7, 2016 at 10:09 AM by Caroline Watts

featured_image_optimized_mobile_experience.jpegAs consumers spend more and more time on their smartphones, mobile advertising is becoming increasingly valuable. Accordingly, its share of digital ad spending is up.

If you're already developing great mobile ads, you're ahead of the game, as frankly, most mobile ads still leave a lot to be desired. But with new formats and opportunities developing all the time, and consumers' changing mobile habits, great ads aren't enough anymore. You need to take advantage of new formats and optimize the entire mobile experience to stay ahead of the competition.

A New Era of Mobile Video

Mobile advertising units are getting better every day, and mobile video in particular is a huge area of development. Consumers are now spending considerable amounts of time consuming video content on their smartphones, and new video inventory opportunities are popping up regularly. Google, for example, has been testing video ads in search results, which will make the opportunities for mobile video even more important (and impactful) than ever before. 

With new ad formats in addition to new placements, you can get in front of your audience with richer experiences than ever. If you have the right tools, you can test different videos and optimize those rich mobile experiences against any metric you choose, whether it's mobile purchases, or (for branding campaigns) completed video views.

Forget About Apps, Optimize Your Mobile Checkout

Mobile commerce is ramping up staggeringly quickly. But the surprise for most of us has been that retail-specific apps, with few exceptions, have not had much traction.

According to an August study conducted by Forrester and RetailMeNot, 60% of consumers who use a smartphone to shop have fewer than two retail-specific apps on their phone. Twenty-one percent have none. Consumers are buying on mobile, but they're using the mobile web. 

For most retailers, apps aren't a logical investment. If you're Amazon, developing a beautiful and seamless app experience is a crucial cornerstone of  digital strategy, but Amazon is the exception that proves the rule. For a few other large retailers, investing in apps may make sense depending on how people buy from you. Target, for example, has had encouraging success with their suite of apps (including the standalone coupon app CartWheel), but for many luxury retailers, clothing companies or any brand that tends to rely on impulse buys or relatively infrequent purchases, apps may be unimportant enough to ignore altogether. However, that doesn't mean mobile commerce isn't important. People are making purchases on their phones, so make your mobile checkout experience as seamless as possible to capitalize on this growing trend.

What about buy buttons? There was a lot of noise about social commerce in 2015, but the jury's still out on whether consumers are willing to trust companies like Twitter or Pinterest with their online shopping. Buy buttons are worth investigating, but probably won't be a game-changer for retailers.

Tie-Ins to Physical Stores

For retailers with physical stores in addition to an online presence, mobile has another specific set of opportunities. Beacons, much like mobile apps, were yesterday's hyped up trend. Little has  been done to date, and many brick-and-mortar stores who made the investment in beacons to go along with their apps were disappointed with what they reaped in return.

That said, there are some promising developments when it comes to using beacons for coupons and in-store attribution when you aren't relying on a retail-specific app. More and more consumers are willing to offer data in exchange for timely and easily accessible mobile coupons, and that's an opportunity where beacons could still be useful.

Mobile receipt processing and other POS solutions provide additional convenience for consumers, as well as building up a trove of first-party data for you.

Consider the Entire Experience

As in any advertising, consider the entire consumer experience when building and optimizing your mobile ads. Mobile apps and beacons may not have lived up to the hype, but mobile commerce is growing quickly, so make sure you're giving your consumers plenty of opportunities to engage with your brand on their favorite appendage, their smartphones.

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