Interview with Jeremy Hull
Director of Bought Media @ iProspect
Although marketers continue to boost spending on mobile search advertising, return on investment (ROI) from mobile campaigns remains disproportionately low. Jeremy Hull, director of bought media at iProspect, spoke with eMarketer’s Jeremy Kressmann about the challenges associated with optimizing mobile campaigns and measuring performance
eMarketer: How does mobile search advertising ROI compare with that of desktop search?
Jeremy Hull: The number of people converting on smartphones is high and continues to rise. But even with the lower cost per click (CPC), mobile advertising ROI has not caught up to desktop advertising ROI. This is partly because people aren’t just looking to make a purchase on mobile. Rather, they’re looking for information or are trying to place a call. Those actions are just as valuable, but if you’re operating purely on a last-click ROI sampling, you’re not factoring that value in. Think back to attribution. Before we had good attribution technology, there was the philosophy that people searched, saw an ad and took an action. Now that we better understand attribution, we see that everyone takes a different path from the point of engagement to the point of conversion.
eMarketer: What’s contributing to the disconnect between increased spending and ROI in the mobile advertising space?
Hull: Brands are not differentiating their mobile campaigns. When people search on their smartphones, they should see different ad copy, different site links, different messages and different extensions. Instead, many advertisers just turn their desktop campaign into a mobile campaign with the same messaging. Cross-device campaign performance measurement also presents a challenge, but Google and Bing are working to provide solutions that tackle it. Google, for example, now provides cross-device conversion estimates. While traditional cookie tracking monitors individual conversions, the cross-device conversion tool can pinpoint when customers use multiple channels before completing a purchase and estimate what the conversion rate would be if you could track 100% of users.
eMarketer: Will Google’s recently introduced AdWords Enhanced Campaigns boost ROI on mobile advertising spending, or did the feature just push some marketers into mobile before they were ready?
Hull: It served as a wake-up call for brands that haven’t yet embraced mobile, but it hasn’t changed the ROI of mobile; it just made advertisers pay more attention to it. The problem that Google, Bing and Yahoo still need to solve is that there’s less real estate on mobile screens for paid search ads. On a mobile search results page, your ad is either in the top two positions or it’s not seen, and search engines are hoping that these top two positions become more coveted. Instead, advertisers look at the CPC of those top two positions, weigh that against the direct ROI they’re getting from mobile and decide not to advertise at all. That’s why everyone is trying to develop new tools to measure the performance of mobile outside of the last click.
eMarketer: What are some of the advertising tactics that have worked well in the mobile search environment?
Hull: Google’s call-only ads are interesting. They appear specifically on smartphones, and the only way consumers can engage with them is by tapping them to call the brand directly. This format doesn’t work for every advertiser. But for certain brands, speaking to consumers on the phone is valuable because it moves them down the conversion funnel faster than browsing a website.
eMarketer: Do any of iProspect’s clients use retargeting as part of their mobile search marketing tactics?
Hull: We use traditional retargeting for display ads, and we use Google’s remarketing list for search ads. The industry as a whole has only scratched the surface of retargeting functionality, and it’s not necessarily a cross-device solution yet. For cross-device success, what it comes down to is building an ecosystem that connects data points in a way that’s nonpersonally identifiable and doesn’t compromise consumers’ security or privacy, but allows you as an advertiser to have an ongoing conversation with them. That’s what Facebook has built successfully, and that’s what Google, Bing and Yahoo are looking to build. For the time being, there’s a lack of continuity that still represents a big opportunity.
eMarketer: Do you consider audience-based targeting to be a more effective advertising approach than keyword-based targeting?
Hull: Search is predicated on the user telling you what they’re interested in. It’s a user-initiated opportunity for conversation, so keywords are always going to play a role. However, the more secondary signals and context brands have access to, the more effectively they are going to communicate with customers, address their needs and provide them with information that’s contextually relevant.