As mobile technology continues to take flight, research has found that between 20 percent and 30 percent of overall Internet traffic is generated by mobile devices. Marketers are finding a wealth of opportunity in this space but it's going to take a lot more than shrinking down a Web page to get the message to the customers. Utah-based provider of Web analytics solutions Omniture announced today the availability of SiteCatalyst version 14.1, which boasts a new mobile-analytics capability intended to help businesses overcome significant roadblocks in bringing all their data into one integrated solution.
According to Matthew Langie, Omniture's senior director of product marketing, the need for a mobile-analytics solution was clear: Clients were requesting this capability, he says, and research alone has shown that consumers are readily using mobile phones, with subscriptions at 3.9 billion in 2008 and predicted to reach 5.6 billion by 2013. (Individuals, it's worth noting, may have multiple subscriptions.) A recent study by market research firm IDC predicted that 164.7 million smartphones will be shipped worldwide this year -- a figure expected to reach 363.2 million in 2012. Moreover, while 2007 saw 27 million phones with Wi-Fi capabilities, the service will reach 400 million by 2012.
For experts watching the market, the move toward mobile seems inevitable. "The demand for mobile analytics will emerge as an 'overnight' requirement," says Mary Wardley, research vice president of CRM Applications at IDC. "This is a lifestyle shift that will become the norm without a conscious thought on the part of users." Particularly for the mobile workforce, analysts say, the convenience of a handheld device will soon outweigh a bulky laptop.
While the technology may be there, mobile marketing and analytics have yet to gain the sophistication seen in their desktop counterparts. Langie outlines four distinct challenges:
Langie says that today's world involves a "three-screen society" -- television, PC, and mobile -- and that his personal observations suggest that mobile is climbing the ranks as the most important of the three to the consumer. "I always have my BlackBerry with me, not my laptop," he says. "I'm always connected, always on."
- lack of industry standards: Consumers have different carriers, different phones, and different capabilities within each phone; from basic SMS to video viewing, the disparate capabilities make it difficult for marketers to determine how or what to deliver;
- identifying unique visitors: As devices roam, moving from cellphone tower to cellphone tower, Internet Protocol addresses change constantly;
- identifying phone and the manufacturer; and
- building mobile-compatible Web sites.
The mobile-analytics solution will extend Omniture's existing Web analytics solution in an attempt to improve the reach of the marketer -- and, at the same time, improve the experience of the end users. Omniture's effort to address the most common problems marketers face when tackling the mobile arena includes the following four features, Langie says:
So far, the solution can't get anymore granular than country and carrier, but Langie promises that Omniture is making its way down that path. Meanwhile, he adds, with this announcement Omniture is giving customers a"single place to analyze, measure, and optimize integrated data" across both mobile and traditional online channels.
- In a partnership with mobile Internet advocate group dotMobi and its DeviceAtlas database, SiteCatalyst communicates with an extensive library of device profiles to accurately identify the mobile device accessing a Web page. This determines what video, audio, and text can be displayed, thereby giving marketers insight into what customers are using most frequently. Moreover, carrier identification gives marketers the ability to partner with carriers to set up other campaigns.
- Through the use of visitor identification technology such as cookies, subscriber identification, or header information, SiteCatalyst can identify a new visitor or a repeat visitor to deliver an experience akin to the traditional Internet.
- The solution aims to capture the right data from a variety of devices to garner insight about the page. Omniture's server places on each Web page a very small file that occupies a single pixel, allowing marketers to track the activity of the mobile device: where the user is clicking, what content is being downloaded, what video is being watched, etc.
- A geolocation component that recognizes where the site is being accessed from, thereby enabling Web publishers to deliver advertisements applicable to that location.
IDC's Wardley also has hopes for Omniture's future, particularly the development of mobility capabilities "across the line of applications including offer optimization [and] A/B testing." She cites other players in the space of mobile analytics, such as France-based AT Internet, which launched its XiTi Web analytics product in 2000 -- a product that the company claims now analyzes more than 35 million of mobiles pages monthly. This product, Wardley notes, "is, in general, an important Web analytics direction that Omniture is fleshing out."
But even the current Omniture offering is already fairly robust, Wardley says. "They are becoming the center of gravity in the Web analytics space," she adds, though she is quick to point out that the company's acquisition-based and organic growth continues to pose a challenge in terms of integration.
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