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One of the hottest topics in tech & media is the quickly evolving state of mobile advertising. Meanwhile, some of mobile’s early promises include high intent users, and more trackable advertising.

The latter is where things are really getting interesting. And we’re seeing the collision of big data and mobile yield lots of interesting ways to measure ad campaign effectiveness. That’s where the art of attribution comes in.

We unpacked the state of the industry in a report that publishes today. This is part of our series of co-produced reports, done in tandem with Verve Mobile. It highlights attribution drivers and best practices.

Check out the exec summary below, and you can download the entire thing here. We’ll discuss this topic a great deal in the coming months, especially at our Interactive Local Media conference next week. Stay tuned.


Mobile tops the list of tech and media topics that have gained the marketplace’s attention and investment over the past few years. This focus is being sustained by hardware innovation, rising smartphone penetration and the resulting mobile Web and app usage.

A key part of this discussion is monetization. Though paid apps have succeeded in some areas such as games or niche vertical interest, ad support is a more broadly fitting choice for lots of app developers and publishers, due to mobile users’ high commercial intent.

But a challenge has arisen in the slower than expected advertiser adoption. Put another way, advertiser adoption hasn’t caught up with mobile usage. Mobile holds a 12 percent share of U.S. consumers’ media time, but only a 3 percent share of ad revenue.

The good news is that a few factors will counter this supply/demand imbalance that’s mitigating sell-side monetization. For one, mobile’s high engagement relative to other ad supported media will create premium inventory that boosts advertiser demand and rates.

One of the main sources of this premium lift will be location targeted ads. Their value will be a function of congruence with user intent, such as 50 percent of Google mobile searches that seek local information. Location targeted ad performance will also drive this.

Such performance deltas for mobile ads that carry various flavors of location relevance are already evident from data shared by mobile ad companies cited in this report. Advertiser demand will follow in an inevitable process of market evolution towards higher ROI.

Mobile local campaign tactics won’t just involve where the ads show up and what they contain, but how they’re measured. A feedback loop of ad effectiveness drives towards one of the most important areas of mobile ad innovation in the coming years: Attribution.

Knowing which ads effectively drove brand lift and various forms of conversions will have a vital role in optimizing and assigning value to mobile ad tactics. And that will only come about through accurate measurement of actions taken after ad exposure and engagement.

This is developing in lots of ways that are getting attention such as “closed loop” point of sale technologies. This includes mobile payments, coupons and other areas whose nascent stage and fragmented standards compel more realistic near-term solutions.

Attribution technologies are developing along these lines to speak the language of large advertisers. Brand ad dollars are where the action is in mobile today, and attributing the success of those campaigns is the name of the game.

The question remains how? The science of mobile ad attribution is at an early stage, but we’re already seeing innovation and emerging best practices.

This report examines ways mobile advertising and attribution are materializing, how mobile location data is playing a central role in these approaches and where they’re moving next.

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