What’s On

Retargeting: a crucial step in the mobile marketing mix

Mobile devices are more than just communication tools today. Globally, smartphones and tablets contribute to roughly 25 per cent of user traffic on e-commerce and travel websites. Sales through smartphones and tablets contribute to around 15 per cent of total online sales. With the rapid adoption of smart phones and tablets across the globe, these numbers can only keep growing. The figure demonstrates the state of online sales through mobile devices as a percentage of the total online sales in the US.


Mobile retargeting: A crucial step
Mobile marketers now need to monetise on the audiences acquired on their mobile site and app and also personalise marketing messages for these first-party users. Hence it is important for them to work with companies that can solve the challenges of the fragmented mobile advertising ecosystem and make messaging based on first-party data work for users who have already used the marketer’s mobile site or app.

Challenges in mobile marketing to first party users
Mobile marketing is a relatively new space and still faces several technology challenges for user-level targeting and messaging. Some of these challenges are:

  • Advertisers’ and publishers’ mobile presence is fragmented between mobile web and mobile apps and these need to be addressed individually
  • Identification of a user across mobile web and app and messaging across these two channels
  • Identification of users across multiple devices (such as mobile, desktop) and messaging across channels
  • Patchy support to cookie and other tracking mechanisms on mobile browsers and apps

Challenges in key mobile channels
The diagram below illustrates the various challenges in effectively re-engaging with your existing mobile web or app users:graph1

Android mobile web: Android mobile web users can be targeted using cookies and messaged. But usually the inventory pool available on Android mobile that can support cookie based targeting is very limited. Most publishers do not support cookie based buying on their Android mobile web inventory as user based targeting is still a new frontier in mobile marketing. Also in most regions, 50 per cent of mobile inventory is within apps and cookie based targeting is not possible for in-app inventory.
iOS mobile web: 98 per cent of the iOS users use Safari browser for accessing mobile websites. Third party cookies are blocked on the Safari browser and this makes user targeting tough for marketers. Privacy compliant solutions for iOS mobile web user targeting are still in early stages of development.
Android mobile app: Cookies do not work inside apps and hence the user targeting in Android apps is usually via a device ID called the Android_ID. However, this ID is not privacy compliant as the user cannot opt out of this Android_ID based messaging. Google is about to introduce a new Android advertising id that will solve this privacy issue by allowing users to disable access to this ID. However, this new ID is still in very early stages of adoption across the mobile device ecosystem.
iOS Mobile App: Cookies do not work inside apps and hence the user targeting in iOS apps is via a device ID called IDFA (ID For Advertisers). This ID is user privacy compliant as the user can disable access to this ID. However, the IDFA is still not widely adopted in the complex mobile advertising landscape.

Focusing of re-engagement of users
At present, most mobile advertising technology vendors are focused on driving app downloads for marketers. There is very little or no focus on how to re-engage with the users who have already come to the advertisers’ mobile website or have downloaded and used the mobile app. This leads to marketers reporting large numbers in user churn. The hard earned app downloads result in a one-time app usage and eventually the user uninstalling the advertiser’s app.


The author, Shiju Mathew, is the Mobile Product Manager, Vizury Interactive Solutions