The Growing Importance Of Mobile Analytics

Any kind of media advertising requires the use of robust analytics to understand user-behavior and to better plan for future growth, and mobile advertising is no different. Actually, it’s perhaps more important than traditional web-based metrics, given there’s more information that needs to be understood about mobile users over PC-based users to make informed decisions.

During last Monday’s Mobile Monday meeting in a Microsoft Conference room, some 150 mobile professionals discussed the state of mobile analytics and what the mobile industry as a whole needs to do to improve on it. With the introduction of new internet-savvy devices like the iPhone and upcoming Android-based devices, the need for better metrics will be apparent when companies start to monetize their services, and try to develop user-habit-data to better aid in marketing, and other big decisions.

As users start doing more “PC-like” interaction on mobile devices like access news and entertainment, and use social networking, the big companies and portals on the web will start to notice that more and more of their overall traffic is being sent by mobile devices. When this happens, they have to shift their thinking (and analytical systems) from PC-based techniques to mobile. New mobile operating systems like Opera’s Skyfire Beta, and Apple’s Safari already bring the full web-experience to mobile devices, now it’s just a matter of measuring the data and building upon it.

Nowhere is analytics more important then when used in mobile advertising. Since the mobile web is more just a mirror of the desktop, advertising techniques have been mirrored as well meaning the use of banner ads, link ads, and revenue sharing with search engines has become more popular than ever.

“There seems to be a trend among the companies that have started early, said Jason Spero, vice president of marketing at AdMob, who demonstrated a beta version of its free mobile-analytics tool at the Mobile Monday meeting. Ringtones and other entertainment content comprise the largest chunk of mobile advertising, Spero added, along with car ads, TV and movie promos, and ads for well-known consumer brands.”

As an inevitable flood of new users choose one device family, operator, or platform over another, companies will rely on analytics to edge the competition as much as possible. The one major hurdle to overcome when implementing analytics data, is the fact that companies and research firms have yet to nail-down a tried-and true method of measuring the many aspects of mobile users. For example, Opera Software is two months into releasing public reports of its users’ browsing activity after substantially changing the methodology after the first month. Similarly, Nielsen Mobile, who’s another “mobile scorekeeper,” doesn’t yet have intimate access to Internet traffic. AdMob seems to take a third approach, which is calculating advertising impressions and click-through rates to form its datascape. A central collection of all this data that can be utilized by everyone in the industry, is yet to exist however.

There’s a general consensus that ComScore, Nielsen, and/or any other data-generating company will have to pump out a robust mobile data-gathering service for the industry to really cash in on the numbers. When it does, expect even better hardware, software, and Webware to follow.