This post is written by Ruby Ban, Lead Account Manager on InMobi’s Demand team.
Think about the classic marketing funnel. In the mobile in-app advertising space, we tend to focus a lot at the very top and very bottom of the funnel. If you want reach and awareness, there are a lot of options. And if you want app installs and downloads, there are also a lot of options.
But what about the middle of the funnel? What if a brand is looking to drive engagement, signups or one-time purchases? In this realm, there historically hasn’t been as much available, especially within the mobile in-app advertising ecosystem.
That is changing, however. After all, my goal (and the goal of InMobi overall) is to make sure we’re always meeting a client’s marketing objectives. It is increasingly feasible to do mid-funnel prospecting effectively within mobile apps, so long as campaigns are set up appropriately.
Understanding Mid-Funnel Prospecting
Let’s level-set on definitions here. What do we mean when we say mid-funnel prospecting (MFP)?
As I briefly mentioned before, MFP encompasses everything in between pure branding/awareness campaigns and those with hard, down-funnel KPIs like app installs. MFP combines the benefits of in-app advertising (device IDs, targeting, etc.) with the benefits of mobile web (form fills, established tracking mechanisms, availability for all businesses, etc.).
MFP is ideal for clients that already have awareness and are looking for web traffic (with calls to action around learning more or signing up or purchase) since they don’t have an app or aren’t yet looking for app downloads. For example, direct-to-consumer (DTC) subscription services that don’t have an app benefit from MFP, as do businesses that rely on signups or big-ticket purchases like airlines. Further, MFP is ideal for businesses that can only target very specific user groups for compliance/legal reasons, like alcohol or cannabis brands.
Challenges with Legacy Approaches to MFP
One of the reasons why mobile in-app advertising hasn’t focused much on MFP generally stems from issues around measurement and creatives. From a UX standpoint, not only can it be hard to get clicks from in-app media, but consumer dropoff between app to mobile web ranges between 25% to 70%, as a result of that poor experience.
Plus, attributing credit to multiple touch points throughout the user’s journey via cross-device measurement (marketers should be using multi-touch attribution and measurement) has historically been lacking. In particular, while Google DoubleClick is the most common attribution solution because it has device graph for cross-device and multi-touch attribution and measurement, they don’t share device IDs or other key data points needed to gain a full measure of success.
Solving Key Measurement Challenges with MFP
As with anything in mobile advertising and marketing, measurement is key. How do you know what’s really happening with your campaigns if you lack oversight?
In all aspects of in-app advertising but especially in relation to MFP, user behavior is critical and needs to be observed. In particular, user behavior needs to be central to how campaigns are measured.
But accurately measuring all touch points in someone’s decisioning process is notorious fickle in today’s always-on world. While mobile has a lot of measurement built in, it’s only one touch point of many used by someone.
There are some actions that someone is unlikely to make directly on a mobile device, like buying a car. But, that doesn’t mean that mobile isn’t influencing them. Mobile can be a trigger for someone to do more elsewhere.
This all needs to be tempered by the fact that advertisers want immediate results from their campaigns. However, that can be hard to show holistically when you’re only looking at one type of media or one type of device. This is why you need to have the right attribution windows (7 days, 30 days, etc.)
And then, how are you giving credit when a conversion happened? How do you credit all of the touch points that are influencing the conversion? Without holistic measurement, you may be putting too much weight on some channels/touch points over others, and missing your target consumers (who, after all, are basically everywhere).
So what is InMobi doing to address these measurement-related challenges around MFP? For starters, we have a unique cross-device attribution solution powered by Tapad that gives the marketers we work with unprecedented oversight across a wide variety of devices, not just mobile. That way, marketers know with greater granularity how campaigns across a wide variety of devices are influencing user behavior and ultimately leading to signups and other mid-funnel benchmarks.
Multi-touch tracking is especially critical for MFP. If you’re using an in-app ad to drive someone to a mobile webpage form, for example, then you need to know that everyone is being tracked and counted for properly across all media.
View-through attribution is key here too, especially for our app publisher partners. Marketers can’t always expect immediate action as soon as someone sees their creative, but an end user can complete the specific goal within 10 days of seeing an ad, for example. With view-through attribution, marketers working with us on mid-funnel campaigns are able to track ad impressions in addition to clicks over time.
Overall though, we subscribe to last-touch attribution for all third-party app campaigns, giving the most weight to the final ad that directly led to the desired user action. This doesn’t mean that we’re ignoring other touch points (far from it, in fact) but we’ve found that the final ad is often the biggest influencing factor in convincing someone to undertake a desired action.
Solving Key Creative Challenges with MFP
Of course, as with any advertising beyond branding and awareness campaigns, the ultimate goal is to use the ad to convince someone to take a desired action. In the case of MFP, it’s crucial that marketers use compelling creatives that are eye-catching and provide as smooth a user experience as possible.
The first step is to leverage creatives that will actually capture attention. While we will use static banners if absolutely necessary, we prefer utilizing more high-impact creatives like video, native ads, interactive ads (like with end cards) and ads featuring rich media creative.
InMobi’s interactive in-app ads get the brand recall needed to nudge users towards conversion and directly increase engagements, thereby improving conversions within app. Dynamic sequential ads are also often used to stay top of mind with end users.
From a UX perspective though, MFP can be difficult with in-app advertising because there’s invariably going to be a dropoff when leading someone from an app environment to a browser environment. To address this, we tailored a creative solution using Celtra to create rich media ads with mobile web behavior inside the app; this helps to reduce dropoff and provide a better experience that both users and app publishers appreciate. In fact, InMobi’s in-app browser experience has helped our mid-funnel advertiser partners see a 71% reduction in bounce rates.
Providing a Holistic MFP Solution
MFP has long been a black spot in mobile in-app advertising, plagued by challenges around creatives, user experience and measurement. But, thanks to major innovations from InMobi and others, it’s now possible to run highly successful MFP campaigns at scale in app.