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By: Matt Swan, Client Strategist, Affiliate Window

Mobile commerce is a topic that is close to our hearts. Back in early 2011, we embarked on a project to fully understand the mobile opportunity within the performance marketing channel. At the time, we were seeing just one percent of sales generated through mobile handsets, although it was evident there was huge potential for the mobile opportunity to develop.

We have certainly seen this development over the past few years. With the release of more advanced mobile devices coupled with better connectivity, we have witnessed a shift in consumer behavior. Consumers are not just using these devices for researching their purchases; they also have the confidence to transact through them—and in significant volumes.

Publishers have been at the forefront of innovation and have been leading the mobile charge—developing sophisticated mobile offerings to not only generate online sales but also drive footfall to stores where advertisers have a high street presence, and encouraging in-store purchases. With the increase in mobile activity advertisers are seeing significant volumes of revenue generated through mobile devices.

Dell recently reported seeing a surge in mobile activity, with a 79% revenue increase for the year ending February 1, 2013, while Gilt announced that 40% of their revenue is generated through m-commerce.

With this rise in activity we have also seen more advertisers optimize their sites for mobile visitors, providing them with a seamless user journey. As a result they have benefitted from improved mobile conversion rates as well as increased average order values. In addition, affiliate tracking is now being added as a priority rather than merely an afterthought.

These developments have led us to where we are today—with our latest stats indicating that a staggering one in every five sales are now originating from a mobile device. If we focus purely on mobile handsets, we are seeing 8.5% of all transactions taking place on a mobile phone.

Our data references millions of sales and clicks recorded every month from more than 1,400 retailers’ and advertisers’ affiliate marketing campaigns, drawn from sectors including retail, travel, telecoms, utilities, and finance.

It is important to note that there are differences in how consumers are interacting with mobile devices. Tablets are fast becoming an alternative to desktops, with people browsing the Internet while at home. Mobile handsets, on the other hand, are always with consumers, whether this is sitting in front of the television or out and about in a sociable or shopping environment. They could be used to simply find directions to the nearest store or to compare prices before making a purchase.

Additionally, the barriers to online access are eroding as retailers are increasingly offer free in-store Wi-Fi; also underlining the ability of mobile to both interrupt and enhance consumer behavior.

The emergence of smaller screen tablets such as the iPad Mini has blurred the boundaries somewhat with these devices commonly used at home just like the iPad, while easier to transport like a phone.

For advertisers working within the performance channel, it is imperative to understand the motivation behind the consumer visiting their site through a mobile device and be in a position to take advantage of this traffic. Whether the consumer is looking to find the nearest store, or trying to purchase on their phone, the user journey, first and foremost, needs to be optimized. Beyond the basics of optimisation and tracking, there is a wealth of opportunities for advertisers not only to increase sales online through m-commerce, but also to drive consumers in store within a multichannel environment.

To reiterate our commitment to the topic, we have recently released the third edition of our mobile commerce white paper. In this, we look at mobile growth trends to understand how the landscape is changing, before focussing purely on the growth within the performance channel.

It has been important to separate out mobile handsets from tablet devices to provide a true understanding of the performance of each. As well as identifying the trends and opportunities, we have also showcased some key finding and success stories. Our mobile journey is set to continue as we see advertisers embracing new technologies with further scope for the channel to grow.

You can download a full version of the third edition of our mobile white paper here. Our updated stats for June activity can be downloaded here.

Matt Swan is a Client Strategist at global performance marketing network, Affiliate Window. He works with advertisers to offer strategic advice to optimise campaigns. He also contributes to new business pitches and is an active member of the IAB AMC. Matt is a regular guest blogger on E-Consultancy and the A4U amongst other titles.

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