Mobile Ads Driving Engagement, Secondary Actions and Purchases

Mobile ad targeting and personalization improvements are paying off as mobile ad engagement has more than doubled since 2013. Today's mobile shoppers are increasingly receptive to relevant ads, according to a new report from the 3rd Annual U.S. Mobile Path-to-Purchase Study released today by xAd, a leading global location ad platform, and Telmetrics, the leading call measurement technology provider.

As consumers become more reliant on their mobile devices and ads mature to provide consumers with value, there has been a positive and important shift in mobile ad perceptions. Among the key findings, nearly 50 percent of mobile shoppers say mobile ads are informative/helpful, up 113 percent from 22 percent in 2013. Furthermore, 40 percent of respondents report clicking on ads and nearly half of those take secondary actions such as viewing the referring website and searching for additional product information. Entertainment, Retail and Restaurants are the most commonly recognized mobile ad categories.

Relevance is Key to Mobile Ad Engagement 

A major factor influencing ad engagement is relevancy. More than 40 percent of mobile users say they clicked on a mobile ad because it was relevant to their interests or purchase research. Coupons are big drivers for both clicking on ads and engaging with a brand post-click, and if an ad can drive local action, then consumers are more likely to engage. More than half of respondents say that location is an important ad relevancy factor, up 44 percent over the last two years. Also, consumers are more aware of the fact that ads support free content. The majority of respondents say they prefer a free website with ads over paying for an ad-free subscription; this sentiment increased 31 percent since 2012.

"By understanding how consumers are engaging with their devices during purchase decisions and throughout the day, brands are able to serve ads that are more relevant, engaging and ultimately more effective, than ever before," said Monica Ho, SVP of marketing at xAd. "Marketers need to closely evaluate how to provide the right value when trying to reach their consumers, either through local relevance, free services, or even convenience."

Secondary Actions Reveal Mobile Purchase Indicators 

The study also showed that secondary actions strongly indicate mobile shoppers' purchase intent. Consumers who take action post-click want to convert quickly and look for businesses nearby to do so. In fact, half want to purchase within the hour, and 70 percent go on to make a purchase. Post-click secondary actions are also closely correlated with proximity expectations: 67 percent of these mobile shoppers want a business within 5 miles and 18 percent want locations within 1 mile. Also, contacting a business is strongly tied to mobile engagement, as 57 percent of those who clicked on mobile ads and 61 percent of those who took secondary actions prefer ads that provide a direct phone number for the business.

"It is encouraging that mobile engagement indicators have spiked as it reflects stronger consumer trust in and reliance on mobile," said Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics. "Advertisers should benchmark their mobile ad program performance against these trends. Improving the relevancy of their ad programs with deals and location context are important for increasing ad traction with mobile shoppers."

Study results revealed that household decision makers with buying power are lucrative mobile ad targets, with consumers aged 35-44 years old as well as higher household income users 26 percent more likely to click on ads and then take secondary actions. Three out of five consumers occasionally share mobile ads on social media, also most commonly among 35-44 year olds.