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Full-funnel marketing in the age of mobile

AdColony’s Jean Ortiz-Luis reveals study results that apps are gaining ground on websites as a way to reach consumers as part of a full-funnel marketing approach.

5 min read

Marketing Strategy

Full-funnel marketing in the age of mobile

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Picture this: You’re on your phone, playing a mobile game. You see an ad for another game –- maybe it’s a playable ad, so you try it out. You tap and download the new game, which might be free, or maybe you pay $2.99 for it -– with one tap, of course.

Another scenario: You’re again on your phone but on Instagram. You see an ad for a $34.99 swimsuit available at Target. One tap and you’re in the Target app on the product page. You select your size, add to cart, agree to use your login info from your existing account, and check out in seconds.

Which of these is more likely for you? Statistically, they’re both quite common.

And both of these scenarios are examples of a successful full-funnel marketing strategy. But not just any strategy -– a unique one that is, to be blunt, a marketers’ dream.

There are plenty of examples of full-funnel marketing by brands (e.g., TV commercial → sponsored review or PR mention → search → remarketed ad → landing page → add-to-cart) but as you can see, they are rarely linear and never uncomplicated. The customer journey mostly takes place across different media and over an unpredictable period of time.

It could take a day, or it could take years.

These full-funnel experiences, however, occurred all in one platform. That is, where the brand builds awareness, consideration and then gets the conversion/purchase, without the customer ever leaving the mobile app ecosystem. It’s fully trackable and there’s no time delay, either.

Full-funnel strategy in the mobile app ecosystem is highly scalable, too. Across the globe, people are spending more time on apps than ever before. Data from App Annie revealed that the global average time spent in apps hit 4.2 hours a day in the second quarter this year, a 30% increase from two years prior. Apps are where consumers are spending the vast majority of their media time.

And they’re spending money! In the last six months, 8 out of 10 smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device, and according to Google’s Our Mobile Planet: Global Smartphone Users study, 60% of US smartphone shoppers purchase products or services at least monthly, and 20% purchase on a daily basis.

Still, we wanted to know if this supposition held true for apps only, or if it spanned across all digital. Is this scalable, trackable, full-funnel experience simply how digital (including mobile web) can achieve both brand and performance outcomes? Or is it a mobile-app-only phenomenon?

Study: Apps as part of a full-funnel approach

We conducted a survey across 1,200 mobile users in the US to find out. We chose mobile gamers as our focus group because they represent the majority (78%) of the population, but also because most (87%) of them said they remembered seeing ads while playing mobile games, which to us makes them prime target customers.

Mobile ads still have a way to go when it comes to disrupting experiences

According to survey results, only 34% of mobile gamers find ads to be less disruptive on apps rather than websites. The other two-third say that web ads are less disruptive. Interestingly, most mobile gamers (64%) believe that ads are more relevant on websites than on apps, perhaps due to the way that targeting has developed to such a high degree in desktop environments. The deprecation of the cookie, however, may have a significant impact on targeting relevance in web browsers.

4 in 10 mobile gamers feel confident in payment security, discount availability

While the majority of gamers do feel that there are plenty of discounts available on the web, a broad swathe (40%) of respondents said there are often more coupons and discounts in apps.

Meanwhile, just under 40% of respondents said they are more confident in sharing payment details on apps rather than websites. Websites still win here, but the numbers in favor of apps are still significant, and the tide has shifted. In 2015, in a separate study, 41% of mobile users did not like to store payment and delivery information in apps on their phones.

Purchasing in-app is highly convenient, and checkout is faster than websites

According to mobile gamers, the key strength of apps is their quick and easy purchase process. Some 44% of respondents said they found it more convenient to purchase on an app than a website. The slight majority (50.2%) of respondents said it is faster to purchase on an app.

It’s now been more than 18 months of economic pressures, store closings and priority/lifestyle changes creating shifts in online shopping, and the opportunity to capture market share online is still at peak levels. More than 60% of consumers tried a new shopping behavior last year, one-third of whom experimented with a different brand of product.

Apps still lag behind websites as the preferred way to see ads, get coupons and make those final purchases –- but they are gaining, especially as in-game and in-app technology continues to evolve, offering more relevant, contextual ad experiences and seamless paths to purchase.

Brands must keep in mind that mobile apps are not only where consumers are spending more time each day, but where they can make fast, informed decisions and go from awareness to conversion in a matter of seconds.


Jean Ortiz-Luis is the content marketing manager at AdColony, part of Digital Turbine’s leading independent mobile growth and monetization platform with a reach of more than 1.5 billion users globally. Jean is responsible for the company’s blog content, research studies and award submissions. She holds a B.S. in Business Marketing from California State University, Long Beach, and has more than 10 years of experience as a marketer and writer.