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Big Data Isn’t Big Enough to Measure Mobile Ads. You Have to Ask Real Consumers.

Posted by admin on Mar 21, 2017 9:23:11 AM




The irony of relying on Big Data to tell you how  your mobile ads are working is that it isn’t big enough. Instead of bringing clarity, an overabundance of aggregate  information will only confuse your efforts -- unless you augment your mountain of Big Data with ’qualitative insights from real people. As management guru Peter Drucker put it, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” But you can  measure how high the stakes are for getting mobile ad measurement right:

  • Smartphone adoption in the U.S. has reached 77%, according to Pew Research Center, including 92% of 18- to 29-year-olds. Even among somewhat later adopters, ages 50 to 64, smartphone use has reached 74%.
  • Advertising has followed consumers onto their smartphones to the tune of $58.3 billion, the amount eMarketer predicts will be spent on U.S. mobile advertising in 2017 – a 15.9% increase.

So finding a way through the current ad-measurement wilderness is crucial. But here’s the problem:

  • A recent study by Northwestern University researchers revealed how NOT to do it. The authors warned against “the deficiency of using data alone.” What’s needed, they concluded, is “a theory of behavior, i.e. the mechanism by which advertising works on consumers….Testing should aim to discover the `why,’ not just the `what.’” 
  • A commentary by AJ Mathew in Advertising Age entitled “Why We Need a More Human Approach to Mobile Measurement” drives home the point: “Our industry still needs a push to look beyond primitive metrics such as CTR to determine ad effectiveness. Instead, we need to look at advertising performance from a basic, human approach.”

In other words, the consumers you’re trying to reach aren’t just an aggregation of Big Data telling you where they’ve been and what they’ve bought. To get real business insights, including how aware and responsive audiences are to mobile advertising, you’ve got to talk to them. The best way forward is to reach consumers on the devices that define how they interact with today's mobile-centric world.


MFour is currently pioneering a new way to measure mobile ad effectiveness. This new approach allows you to identify the demographic makeup of consumers exposed to your ads – and then survey them to get that crucial human factor. To learn more about the much-needed game-changer in mobile ad measurement, contact


Topics: MFour Blog

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