Editors note: We are republishing an article by Faisal Kalim that looks into growth of digital media. This piece was originally published on What’s New in Publishing.

97% of Americans own mobile devices, a Pew Research Center study found. Also, according to an eMarketer report, they spent an average of 4.4 hours per day on these devices. 90% of this time was spent in apps, not browsers. 

“Apps aren’t just random digital locations in which consumers are finding themselves,” states a new report by Digiday and Marketing Solutions, a division of T-Mobile USA. “What makes app ownership and app engagement eminently useful is intent. 

“The action of engaging with apps is not random, making it a strong indicator of both interest and intent.”

“Provides really deep insights”

The report—WTF is mobility data?—looks into what makes app engagement data a powerful driver of targeting and personalization and how it can be leveraged to deliver targeted content to drive desired outcomes. 

It’s a “comprehensive view of the apps a user has chosen to download to their smart device, as well as how often—and for how long—they open and engage with those apps.” The data, the report states, “enables powerful new insights-driven targeting and measurement solutions in a post-cookie world.” 

Intent aspect sets mobility data apart from behavioral targeting with things like third-party cookies and Javascript tracking pixels. Cookies and tracking pixels collect data even when a user ends up on a site unintentionally.

WTF is mobility data?

“At the end of the day, mobility data is mobile engagement behavior data,” explains Jess Zhu, Head of Advertising Products, Marketing Solutions. “The richness of the data and the scale of a representative base population of data provides really deep insights. We’re able to model that data and put it into behavioral personas that are much more compelling for marketers to get a better understanding of their target consumers.” 

It is a privacy-compliant data source as well, which can potentially be useful for publishers since they have objectives that overlap with marketers – both seek to understand their users better. Moreover, advertising continues to be a substantial source of revenue for many publishers. 

“Better, richer, more robust view into consumers”

The value of mobility data is driven by the idea that the mix of mobile apps on a device and how frequently they are used are a strong representation of their general interests and behaviors. 

“It’s critical to underscore that mobility data enables a better understanding of your audience and the propensity for finding like audiences,” says Zhu. “It is a better, richer, more robust view into consumers that can really help marketers better understand how to reach those consumers on these devices and how they interact and respond to the messages they see,” she adds.

Knowing the kind of apps a specific target group uses and at what times would let marketers form more effective partnerships and serve highly targeted content at the right time. “Mobility data enables us to dig deeper into segments,” says Mike Peralta, VP, and GM of Marketing Solutions. “While most people could guess that users of apps like American Eagle, Nike, or Poshmark skew female and younger, with mobility data, we can obtain more interesting insights. 

“For example, these users are highly likely to use experience apps, like Airbnb, Kayak, Resy, and Ticketmaster. These users are also more likely to use peer-to-peer payment apps, like Venmo or Cash App than they are to use online banking apps.”

“The richness that mobility data makes possible means that target groups can be incredibly specific, and the tactics used to reach them can follow suit.” 

Jess Zhu, Head of Advertising Products, Marketing Solutions

“Gives insight into the competition”

The report uses the example of a target audience of 25-35-year-old women. Their mobility data will allow for more layers of detail that can help precisely define the group. For example, it may reveal they are sports enthusiasts, who are likely to play casual social games like Words with Friends and watch HBO Max on their device from 5–9 PM. 

Based on such data, someone needing to connect with this group might choose to partner with HBO Max only between certain hours or to place ads on sports specialist publishers’ sites. The data would also help publishers relying on ad revenue create more precisely targeted campaigns for their clients.

Mobility data gives insight into the competition without the wait for year-long studies. For example, a fast-food restaurant can make strategic decisions by learning and comparing how much or how frequently customers open and use their own app versus competitor apps.

WTF is mobility data?

Similarly, publishers can derive useful insights into how their targeted readers are using competing apps.

“There are a lot of tactics that develop from the foundation of a better understanding of the consumer,” comments Zhu.

Stressing the need to build and ramp up mobile-first strategies Peralta says, “When you look at it today, this device is inextricably linked to our everyday life. Consumer life is now mobile-first and app-centric. Mobile is no longer simply a media channel.”

“Mobile can’t just be an add-on or something you’re doing in addition to the rest of your marketing or advertising strategy. You’ve got to bring mobile front and center to be able to scale in this smartphone-focused consumer world.”

Mike Peralta, VP, and GM, Marketing Solutions

The guide can be downloaded from Digiday:
WTF is mobility data?

Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash