Measurement: The Secret to Growth in a Mobile-First World

Matt Lawson / November 2016

Our mobile-first world creates tremendous growth opportunities for marketers, and those who are evolving their approach to measurement to account for this new behaviour are seeing the greatest results. We looked at the three core beliefs about measurement shared by leading marketers.

Today, consumers are mobile-first. More and more frequently, we turn to our smartphones in moments of need, with 96% of smartphone owners using their device to get things done.1 So whether it's to buy a car or plan our next holiday, we all advance our journeys as consumers through moments that matter of curiosity, research, and decision.

And this new behaviour yields incredible opportunities for smart brands to connect with consumers, including new moments to be there and new ways to be useful. But, as marketers, we'd be remiss if we didn't also recognise that these 'new' behaviours make it challenging to measure the impact of our media.

Many of the marketing rules we use today were established at a time when consumers were desktop-first. And while some of our old rules still hold true, the reality is our guidelines for measurement need to evolve.

This year, we partnered with Econsultancy to better understand how leading marketers are rethinking strategies to drive growth in this mobile-first era. We learned that evolving measurement—adopting a new approach reflective of today's consumer journey—was a huge part of their success. These companies are characterised by a combination of key factors that include using business KPIs, incorporating advanced measurement practices into their models like cross-device and/or online to offline, and investing in experimentation.

Leading marketers were 75% more likely than the mainstream to have moved to a more holistic measurement model in the last two years—and were more than twice as likely to have significantly exceeded their top business goal in 2015.2 This is crucial. Leading marketers are rethinking their approach to measurement, and they're getting results.

To better understand how we can all start to rethink measurement for growth, we honed in on understanding what's driving these leaders. Specifically, what mindsets do they hold that has allowed them to more easily adapt and take action than others? Here's what we found.

Leading marketers start with business objectives first

15 years ago, when digital was in its infancy, we built a set of KPIs to understand how digital marketing influences the consumer journey. This included metrics like cost-per-acquisition (CPA), return on ad spend (ROAS), and more. However, in today's world, these metrics don't capture how mobile assists or influences the path to buy that next car or book that next holiday. Yet, we know it plays a big role. 70% of smartphone owners who bought something on the high street first turned to their devices for information relevant to that purchase.3

With this in mind, we see how our old models can fall short, failing to capture the real impact of online-to-offline or across devices. But leading marketers not only recognise this, they also recognise the need for change. 95% of leading marketers agree that "to truly matter, marketing analytics' KPIs must be tied to broader business goals."4

So, they're making it happen. They're prioritising different KPIs that better capture the goals they are trying to achieve. They're asking questions like "is a CPA holding my business back from reaching my customer?"

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) provides a great example as they set out to understand how mobile works for their consumers. One insight they gleaned is that key moments, like Is-It-Right-For-Me moments, are extremely important to the purchase decisions of truck shoppers. Yet, they also realised that their current KPIs were prohibiting them from being there and being useful in those moments. By optimising to down-funnel leads, they weren't there in the key moments that shoppers were using to advance their journey toward a decision. By starting to measure actions on pages aligned with these moments, like model compare pages, they were able to win more moments with their shoppers.

Leading marketers start with business goals first, then prioritise the marketing metrics that best align with those goals and reflect today's consumer behaviour.

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Leading marketers recognise gaps and work to bridge them

We know mobile changed the consumer journey. Something that used to be a mostly straight line is now more akin to a connect-the-dots book, with hundreds of points all over the page. And, with journeys like these, there are bound to be some gaps.

But, one thing leading marketers share is the ability to turn those gaps into something trackable. Leading marketers are 71% more likely than the mainstream to regularly use estimates to bridge gaps in measurement.5 And because they're active in testing new solutions and new estimates, they make better decisions based on a more accurate understanding of their consumers.

Nissan is a great example of a marketer that has applied this mindset. According to a study by Google and TNS, 90% of new car buyers conduct research online before visiting their local dealership.6 For Nissan, this behaviour revealed a gap not only in their measurement, but also a gap in their understanding of how consumers engaged with their brand before visiting the showroom. Working with Google, they began to analyse consumer intent in the dealership by understanding the queries that people searched prior to a store visit. They were then able to use those insights to tailor experiences for consumers during their trip to a dealership.

The gaps will be different for each brand, and they might require new tools like Google store visits or an estimate from internal data. But regardless, leading marketers demonstrate that it's important to know where the gaps exist and that there's value in developing estimates to bridge them.

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Leading marketers answer questions with big bet experiments

The third mindset that leading marketers share is their commitment to experimentation and testing. We often think of experimenting in terms of fine-tuning optimisations, like A vs. B and so on. But, we've learned that leading marketers take their investment in testing further. Leading marketers are more than twice as likely to conduct strategic experiments than the mainstream.7

"Optimisation vs. testing. These two words are overlapped too often. In digital, optimization is best practice; you look at what's going on and you constantly try to find ways to improve. However, testing is still one of the most underused practices. It requires starting with a hypothesis, and then going to digital to prove it out."
— Jeremy Hull, iProspect

These leading marketers are actively using experiments to find the underserved opportunities that mobile presents. And, a powerful way to recognise those opportunities is to know where you're missing out. Do you know what moments that matter matter most to your business? What moments are most important to your goals? And, are you there in those moments or is your competition? Prioritise these opportunities against your goals to figure out where to start, and yield the space in time, resources, and support in order to truly understand how the moments that matter can impact your business.

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For growth-driven marketers, measurement isn't an afterthought. It's one of the key reasons they're succeeding and growing in an ever-changing, mobile-first world. By evolving their approach to focus on business objectives first, use available tools and resources to bridge the gaps, and test bigger questions, they're learning more quickly what really drives value.

It's worth asking how you can take your own step forward on this journey. Do your KPIs accurately reflect your top business objectives? Do you know where you can and can't attribute the impact of mobile on your business? And, how can you bridge those gaps? Have you experimented to find new business value from mobile?

Leading marketers don't have a secret tool or a perfect KPI, but they do have the mindset to recognise the new opportunities and challenges brought on by mobile, and the flexibility to rethink measurement for growth.

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