Understanding the Metrics of the MENA Mobile Advertising Space
8 March 2020

Originally published by Communicate Middle East.

Featuring Satrajit Duttagupta, Associate Director – Investements, OMD UAE

Last week Communicate covered a study by Forrester Consulting and Yieldmo, highlighting the importance of adopting modern-day metrics such as customer attention, which can help deliver the full value for mobile advertising and achieve results. The study surveyed marketing decision-makers from 164 brands based in the US. Based on this study, Communicate decided to look into the effectiveness of the metrics being used in the region’s mobile marketing industry.

The MENA region is home to some of the most penetrated mobile markets in the world. In April 2019, the total percentage of mobile advertising in the Middle East was 10.4% compared to only 3.46% during the same period in 2018. “With ‘Mobile First’ being the narrative for years now,  a lot of marketers want to be omnipresent across various platforms including mobile. With in-app experience [heading] to the next level, there is no [turning] back for mobile advertising. We might see 2020 ending with double the mobile advertising numbers.” says Deepika Sharma, senior media manager at BPG MAX.

But with consumer attention directed towards mobile, it becomes a lot trickier for advertisers to reach them in a non-disruptive manner. “We have to be smart about how to utilize this channel of advertising. I expect machine learning (ML) to analyze trends quicker, create audience personas and map behaviors while artificial intelligence (AI) churns the data quicker to help target optimally,” says Satrajit Duttagupta, associate director of investments at OMD.

When it comes to the metrics being used to measure mobile advertising success in the region, marketers are utilizing standard traditional KPIs such as leads, visits, installs, sales, etc. These are the metrics for a model known as performance-based attribution which is one of two models used to cater to deliver mobile adverts for clients. The second model is known as top of the funnel awareness approach and includes KPIs such as: click through to landing page, average dwell time, engagement rate, and viewability. According to Duttagupta, these are the standard metrics being used in the MENA region.

Despite being traditional in nature, when asked about whether these current standard metrics pose any limitations in meeting objectives, Duttagupta stated that it is better to suggest that [marketers] are getting too attached to the traditional metrics to quantify or measure the success of a well done mobile media campaign. “It has always been the norm for us to consider CTR as the most important metric for measuring the performance of a mobile ad.  According to the latest research by xAd, Nielsen and Placed, reasons such as the Fat Finger Syndrome (FFS), responsible for accidental clicks on small screens & inability for ad platforms to measure post-click engagements in detail – paints a wrong picture when it comes to ad performances based on just CTRs,” said Duttagupta.

However, Sharma sees them as a clear limitation when it comes to integrating attribution data from mobile, desktop and in-app. “If a user visited my mobile site through an advert, surfed on the site and finally purchased a product on the app, the metrics will not be able to show the complete user journey. This gap in data collection to present how my website traffic gave a boost to the in-app sale, not only limits our learnings but also the possibilities to enhance the in-app user retention and growth,” says Sharma. “But with ever-evolving attribution tools such as Google Attribution 360, Appsflyer, Adjust, CleverTap, to name a few, we would be able to reduce the gaps in mobile advertising,” added Sharma.

Even Duttagupta is hopeful that with the advancement of technology, marketers will be able to quantify newer metrics such as FTR (Footfall Through Rate), CPFS (Cost per Footstep), CPQL (Cost per Qualified Lead).

It is without a doubt that marketers globally are always curious about exploring new ways to create more optimized ads for consumers, and that same curiosity is shared in the MENA region as well. According to the study- when marketers were surveyed as to what will be the prime opportunities they would pursue if, given the ability to measure customer attention in detail,  65% of respondents said they would use attention data to retarget inattentive consumers. When asked what would marketers in the MENA region would utilize it for, Sharma replied she would use it for the same purpose.

“The customer attention signals can help us understand; when they’re getting it right and when they aren’t, uplift percentages during A/B testing i.e. when multiple versions of the same creative are served to the consumers to gauge engagement and brand retention, etc. We also measure customer attention metrics for offline attribution (measuring footfall through rates) which can then help us educate our clients on the effectiveness of the creative used, effect of seasonality, offers showcased, insights on their audience, offline conversions to name a few,” says Duttagupta.

The MENA market is growing exponentially fast when it comes to mobile advertising, as more and more publishers are jumping in to get a slice of the action. But marketers in the region have only begun to realize the need to update these metrics and the efforts to change have already begun as stated by Duttagupta. One can only imagine how much more interactive and personalized the adverts can become once 5G is implemented in the market.

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