Lies, damned lies, and mobile advertising statistics

Accorin Team
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Mobile advertising

British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli famously said “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.“ While he said it over a century ago, it can easily apply to some recent mobile advertising forecasts.

“eMarketer estimates that desktop search ad spending will drop $1.4 billion this year, a decrease of 9.4% from 2013, while mobile search will increase 82.3% year over year. Mobile search will total $9.02 billion, compared with $13.57 billion for desktop search. Overall, US spending on advertising served to desktops and laptops will decline 2.4% in 2014 to $32.39 billion, down from $33.18 billion in 2013.”

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Statistics, statistics, statistics. The numbers just don’t make sense.  An increase in mobile search makes sense – everybody is experimenting with it, but the reduction in desktop search doesn’t…. at a minimum, desktop search would be expected to at least remain steady as more and more companies enter the digital marketing arena.  From what we are seeing at Accorin on customers’ e-commerce conversion rates, desktop is still quite a bit higher than mobile. There are a number of reasons, most significantly, many destination landing pages and e-commerce conversion paths are not mobile friendly. It is jarring for customers to go from a mobile ad to a full-screen experience, and as a result, conversions suffer.  So, from a logical standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to scale back an investment in a higher performing channel, and switch to a lower performing channel.

Our digital marketing experts have hypothesized that the mobile advertising numbers are being artificially inflated by Google’s Adword tools. In july 2013 Google added mobile to every account whether they wanted it (or knew about it) or not. If adjustments were not made, it necessarily meant some clicks were taken from desktop and put toward mobile. For many accounts, the shift was dramatic, as much as 60%+ depending on category and bidding.

The methods to manage mobile share are hidden enough, and complicated enough that most people didn’t use them.  Therefore, what’s happening is many smaller/unsophisticated account users had this change foisted upon them, never noticed, and are automatically trading desktop activity for mobile activity. Hence a rise in mobile advertising and a dip in desktop.

The Bottom Line
Mobile advertising will continue to rise as e-commerce experiences become mobile friendly, but the dramatic changes estimated by eMarketer just don’t pass our logic test.