NEW YORK: AT&T, the telecoms group, believes that a diverse range of research insights will be essential in encouraging major brands to commit greater resources to mobile marketing.

Charlie Hinton, AT&T Mobility's executive director/marketing analytics and advertising insights, discussed this subject at the MMA Forum, an event organised by the Mobile Marketing Association and held in New York.

"If I go from 1% spend to 25% spend overnight, that's a little scary," she told the conference audience. "We haven't tested that, we don't have experience there." (For more, including details of a campaign for Motorola's Moto X, read Warc's exclusive report: AT&T gets to grips with mobile marketing.)

Proof points about this channel's effectiveness are starting to emerge, however. And AT&T itself has conducted in-house research and studies with various third parties to understand the role and power of this medium.

"We don't just rely on market mix modelling and time-series regression, although that is a big part of how we prove the performance of our marketing campaigns," she said.

The exercises which AT&T has been involved in have included general analyses covering the broader mobile category, and more focused efforts addressing certain periods of time or types of messaging.

"We have a toolset of about five to ten different studies to track and measure the performance of mobile on sales," said Hinton. "We're doing a type of quant and qual, time series, ad hoc – we're doing it all … We also want to pull back and look broader."

One such piece of research, produced last year, demonstrated a link between mobile search and in-store traffic – a key metric for AT&T's consumer-facing business.

"We found that when we were out there advertising with paid ads for mobile search driving to retail store, we saw a lift in traffic and a corresponding lift in sales," said Hinton.

A particular priority for the firm is to gain an insight into the optimal frequency of marketing communications on wireless devices.

"I would like to understand the diminishing return curve of mobile. And right now we don't have it," she said. "We don't know the full extent of it, because we have limited experience in our spend," said Hinton.

"So we're at the very beginning part of the curve. I do believe it is a hockey stick at this point, but at some point it will diminish – we just don't know what that point is. We will test and learn our way there."

Data sourced from Warc