Anyone with a basic understanding of marketing knows how retargeting ads work. Someone visits an eCommerce website, they leave without buying anything, and then ads for that website follow them around. It’s a strong idea and years of doing it has borne lots of fruit for lots of businesses.
Last year, something happened which should surprise no-one, yet it should also completely change the way we think about the internet: global mobile internet use surpassed global desktop internet use for the first time. From now on, when marketers imagine “the internet”, they need to imagine someone using a mobile device — not a laptop or desktop.
This trend is not going to reverse anytime soon. So, is it time to rethink how retargeting ads should work? The data absolutely suggests that we should. The overall conversion rate for desktop is around 4%. For mobile, it’s just 1.5%.
The mobile eCommerce experience evidently leaves a lot to be desired, and that needs to be worked on. However, at the same time, retargeting ads need to capture all of those customers who are walking away. Sadly, the current state of mobile ads shows us this is not happening. Less than 30% of mobile ads elicit a positive response from the people who see them.
In turn, this would explain why over 380 million people have some kind of ad-blocking software on their mobile devices. It’s a figure which has risen sharply over the last few years and a figure which is significantly higher than the 236 million people who have the equivalent software on their desktops.
The examples of bad mobile ads aren’t hard to find. Displaying retargeting ads on locked phones, for example, is surefire way of annoying users. Yes, it’s exposure for your brand, but at what cost? People are rebelling against mobile ads in a big way and ad-blocking software means users have more power than ever. In the mobile era, marketers should be trying to win consumers over; not forcing their message down people’s throats.
Is There Any Good News?
Mobile eCommerce, mobile ads, and mobile retargeting: all of these things are absolutely terrible right now. That all sounds like bad news, but it’s not. It means there’s a gap in the market. It means there’s a huge potential opportunity for the businesses who can take advantage of how low the bar has been set.
CPI (cost per install) is payment option for retargeting ads which is unique to the mobile era. CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and CPC (cost per click) both have their place. However, with so many businesses dependent on the success or failure of an app, paying per installation of the app is a great way of measuring your retargeting ads’ ROI.
Despite Uber’s many issues, the company has proven how willing people are to convert on mobile. It’s also embraced an innovative and effective CPI technique with its referral codes. These are used to retarget to people using word of mouth, with an app download as the final goal. In order to incentivise this word of mouth retargeting, people get a cut of the cost per install in the form of a discount or a free ride.
This is just one example of what a business can do when it takes advantage of the unique opportunities that mobile presents. Rather than focusing on retargeting techniques which have worked in the past and are clearly failing to work now, businesses need to evolve or die in the mobile era.