Marchex: Directories Deliver Highest % of New Customers, Mobile Display Lowest

Last year survey data were released that asserted "47% of mobile app users . . . click/tap on mobile ads more often by mistake than they do on purpose." In the subsequent write-ups that often turned into the broader claim that "half of all mobile ad clicks are unintended." 

With all the touchscreen smartphones out there a high level of accidental clicks isn't hard to imagine.

Now comes a kind of parallel but stronger finding from Marchex that argues 76% of all calls coming from mobile display ads are bad calls: pocket dials or otherwise accidental. The data aren't based on survey information but an analysis of more than 200,000 calls on the company's network. These calls were part of advertising campaigns to company runs for clients. 

Marchex also analyzed the percentage of new and existing customer calls by channel. Below is a chart the company generated to illustrate these findings: 

Screen shot 2012-05-21 at 9.41.17 AM

Online and mobile directory sites generated the highest percentage of new leads/customers. Marchex added that directory sites work best for advertisers with physical stores or business locations (perhaps an obvious point). Mobile display, according to the report, generated the lowest percentage of new customers and had the highest percentage of non-qualified calls, as previously indicated.

Search engines had the lowest percentage of spam but the highest percentage of existing customer calls. This suggests people repeatedly use mobile search to find phone numbers for businesses they already know.

Marchex's report also best practices advice for (national-local) marketers. One of the recommendations is that marketers look more deeply at whether calls have generated desired outcomes (e.g. sales) to determine their true ROI, and not simply rely on the top-level data: 

  1. Give consumers a variety of connection options to suit their intent, such as app downloads, QR codes, form fills and click to call
  2. Test different consumer flows for mobile calls, such as the ability to call from an ad or call from a landing page
  3. Take advantage of the fragmented media landscape with placements across a range of mobile webpages, search engines and applications
  4. Test and analyze the performance of ad campaigns across different calls to action, formats and media
  5. If possible, analyze the types of calls you are getting from ad campaigns and connect with the call center to determine whether those calls convert to sales.

Monica Ho of xAd confirmed that when call buttons are in top-level display ad creative the number of accidental calls is high. However she said that calls coming from mobile landing pages are "98-99% valid and of very high quality."