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2014?s breakout mobile marketing tactics include mobile acquisition, app install ads

With brands and retailers ramping up their marketing strategies during the holidays and mobile traffic making a significant jump, two tactics leaping to the forefront are mobile acquisition and app install ads. 

Retailers are investing more than ever in mobile marketing this year while big brands across consumer packaged goods, consumer electronics, automotive and other industries are pulling out the stops to launch groundbreaking campaigns that leverage beacons, Apple Pay, social media and other mobile tactics. While newer technologies such as beacons and Apple Pay are having an impact, they are still too narrowly available to make a big impact this holiday season. 

?The best mobile marketing strategies this holiday season will improve the shopper experience - be it proving some inspiration, making their purchase easier or just making the season a little more festive with some gift giveaways,? said Amy Gale, associate planning director at Isobar US.

App install ads
One breakout tactic this year is app install ads, which are not new but are being adopted at a higher rate this holiday season. 

Marketers increasingly recognize the significant potential of catering to their best customers via a mobile app with special features and capabilities that can drive excitement and repeat engagement. However, as the number of apps continues to proliferate, encouraging customers to download and come back to an app has never been more challenging. 

This is where app install ads come in. While Facebook initiated the category, based on its success here, a number of platforms now offer app install ad options for marketers.

?The breakout star of mobile marketing this holiday season so far isn?t really new, but rather a significant ramp up of a tactic which emerged last year - mobile app marketing through mobile app install ads and re-engagement campaigns,? said Todd Herrold, senior director, product marketing at Kenshoo.

?At Kenshoo we?ve seen much higher adoption of these tactics this year, especially during the holiday shopping season starting at the beginning of November,? he said. 

?As the adoption rate of mobile app install ads and re-engagement campaigns escalated, both cost-per-thousand and cost-per-engagement climbed as well, landing at two to three times their pre-November rate. Savvy marketers not only planned in advance by upping budgets, but also combatted the price increases by utilizing granular targeting, especially in re-engagement campaigns.?

Mobile acquisition
Mobile Web traffic spiked significantly during the recent Thanksgiving holiday weekend while reports suggest in-store traffic was down. Smartphones with larger screens are encouraging consumers to research and shop from wherever they are throughout the entire extend holiday weekend. 

As a result, retailers are more focused on acquiring new customers via mobile than ever before with the goal of either driving them to their online site or to a nearby retail location. 

?Mobile acquisition is a big opportunity for retailers -- particularly those with brick and mortar locations -- this holiday season,? said Jay Hawkinson, senior vice president of social and emerging products at SIM Partners. ?Make sure physical store locations are visible in search engines, maps and GPS systems can help retailers compete with the Amazons of the world by driving in-store traffic and sales.?

?Having a mobile app or mobile optimized site with a great interface and super fast response time also supports mobile customer acquisition,? he said. ?While this may seem basic, it's startling how many retailers have not focused on something so fundamentally important to the mobile customer experience and, ultimately, a retailer's holiday success.?

The beacon benefit
Mobile?s role in enhancing the in-store experience is certainly growing quickly but many of the strategies here are still relatively new and not likely to gain scale for at least another year. 

Beacons are one of the most buzzed about mobile strategies this year and with retailers such as Lord & Taylor and Macy?s expanding their initial beacon pilots to full-blown programs, the technology clearly seems to be hitting the right notes for marketers. 

Isobar?s Ms. Gale points to the Regent Street App as a good example of how beacon technology is being used this holiday season.  Regent Street, a major shopping street in London, has seen 80 percent of stores install beacons. 

Shoppers receive special promotions and notifications as they walk down the street, with the offers managed as a collective experience to avoid spam overload and provide a central personalized layer to shopping from multiple stores. The result is a unique holistic shopping experience. 

?For breakthrough mobile tactics this winter, we can expect that the winner will have to be the beacon,? Ms. Gale said. ?Being able to place a shopper in the context of a store and offer a carefully crafted relevant experience via their phone is the opportunity of the year.? 

Apple Pay
Another breakout tactic could be mobile payments, with Apple Pay potentially initiating a wave that could lift all boats. 

During the holiday shopping frenzy, Apple Pay could enhance the shopping experience by enabling easy, seamless payments similar to the one-click systems consumers use online. 

However, initial results suggest Apple Pay may take longer to catch on simply because retailers so far are not doing a very good job of informing shoppers that paying via Apple Pay is an option. 

Since Apple Pay is only available on iPhone 6 and 6s, as more people upgrade their phones during the holiday season, adoption should increase. 

?Apple Pay, since launching its mobile payment system in October, seems to have cracked the code that baffled those tech companies that came before them, creating a seamless payment experience for consumers ? and a week after its launch, managed to become more popular than any of the other contactless mobile payment systems,? said Esha Shah, manager of mobile strategy at Fetch

?Early adopter Whole Foods says they've seen over $4 million in weekly sales coming from Apple Pay, and fast food giant McDonalds has confirmed that over 50 percent of its in store mobile payments were made with the service,? she said. 

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York