Mobile makes retargeting more challenging for marketers

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Just as marketing personalization seems poised for serious expansion, the explosive growth of mobile browsing platforms is making things trickier. Mobile has proven difficult for all Web advertisers—display ads are only marginally effective on a mobile screen, if they can be served up at all—and the technology itself poses a problem for remarketing. “Mobile offers two big challenges for remarketing,” said Kerry Morris, senior VP-online solutions at Epsilon. “The first is consumer identification, followed by media fragmentation.” With a standard Internet page, consumer identification is accomplished with the use of cookies. In a mobile environment, however, that isn't always possible. Safari, the default browser on the market-leading iOS, doesn't accept third-party cookies unless a user overrides the factory settings. Third-party cookies are enabled, however on the Android OS. “Marketers can overcome the lack of cookies on Safari by retargeting across large publishers and portals like Facebook and Yahoo, but this raises the second challenge of fragmentation,” Morris said. Consumers engage with many types of content on mobile devices, including apps, portals and email, he said. “Think of how many apps you have on your phone,” he said. “In the traditional Web world, media exchanges enable quick, scalable, highly efficient access to targeted consumers. This kind of infrastructure just isn't available yet for mobile.” Rob Brosnan, principal analyst at Forrester Research, said that a few providers, like Drawbridge and Tapad, are using new “device-matching” algorithms to get around the cookie problem. “But mobile still poses a challenge in that the mobile Web isn't the only channel,” Brosnan said. “Mobile app usage remains high, especially on iOS, so brands that want to retarget ads on the Web-based app must build a new customer data management infrastructure.”
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