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Mobile Engineering Marketing – the Biggest Missed Opportunity of 2017?

There is a huge gap between how engineers consume content and how marketers reach them. This spells opportunity with a capital O.

What if I told you that there was a place where you could find your target market of engineers, where they were engaged all day long, and where none of your competitors were present? And what if I told you that it was yours for the taking, sort of like Google Adwords in 2005, or Facebook ads in 2012, when the price was low and the response was high?

In 2017, that happy hunting ground is in mobile advertising. It isn’t easy to access, but it’s real.

In this post I will prove it with data that shows:Holding Smartphone blog image.jpg

  1. Advertisers are slow to take advantage of the time that people spend on their devices
  2. Engineers are using their mobile devices to access engineering information
  3. Engineering marketers are not planning to spend on mobile in 2017

 Then we’ll talk about three ways to take advantage of mobile to reach engineers.

Btw – mobile advertising is just one of the tactics we’ll explore in our upcoming webinar on Engineering Marketers Budgets for 2017, coming on Thursday, Feb 2nd.  Please join us.

 Advertisers Aren’t Taking Advantage of the Time that People Spend on their Smartphones

I’ve been following the evolution of this amazing chart for years. It comes from Mary Meeker of KPCB. (You can see her full 213 slide deck on Internet trends on Slideshare.)

Why this slide is amazing is because it shows the difference between where advertisers are spending money and where the audience is spending time. In previous years there was a huge gap between the time people were spending on the Internet and the amount of Internet advertising revenue. Mary accurately forecast that the gap would close over time, and that absolutely happened to the benefit of companies like Google and Facebook.

The chart shows that the time spent on the Internet (yellow columns) is in line with the amount of advertising spending (blue columns). Now the $22B gap is in mobile. If history is any guide, mobile advertising spending will be going up rapidly over the next few years. That means that the time to get the best value in mobile advertising is right about now.

Blog Image Mobile Gap.jpg

Engineers are Using Smartphones to Access Engineering Information

You may be thinking, “I know everyone is using their smartphones to follow their friends on Snapchat, or laugh at memes on Instagram, but what does that have to do with engineers looking for actuators, software, cutting tools, etc.?” 

Actually, they are using their smartphones to access engineering information.

A few months ago, ran a study of 1,003 engineers asking how they consume content. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll realize we’ve gleaned a lot of powerful insights from this one survey.  If you happened to miss our blog post on the marketing value of running this kind of research you may want to check it out Here.  Two of the key findings of that study directly addressed the question of mobile use by engineers.

First, we asked engineers what devices they had used to access engineering news and information during the 30 days prior to taking the survey.  The options were: 1. Computer / Laptop, 2. Smartphone, 3. Tablet.  Here are the results for Smartphones:

Age Band Blog Image.jpg

You can see from their responses that engineers of all ages use smartphones to access engineering information. That is particularly true of engineers who are less than 55 years old. For that demographic group, more than 50% of them use their smartphones to access engineering news and information.

And here’s the second thing. Not only do they use their smartphones for engineering, 65% of them have actually downloaded an engineering or industrial news app.

65% of engineers say that they regularly access Engineering / Industrial information via apps on a smartphone or tablet.

So, we now understand that engineers are like other people when it comes to smartphone use – they use them for information gathering, and not just for social media.

 Your Competitors Haven’t Figured Out How to Reach Engineers on Mobile Devices

In the 2017 engineering marketers survey, which we discuss in our upcoming webinar, marketers said that they don’t plan to allocate much budget to mobile. In fact, most of them in our preliminary analysis (68%) said that they don’t use mobile advertising. Of those who do, 86% find them at least slightly effective and 9% find them to be “highly effective”.

Blog Image Effectiveness-1.jpg

What accounts for the difference in mobile advertising experience? Why are some engineering marketers loving mobile while others think mobile campaigns are a waste of time and money?

There could be several reasons. First, there is a big mismatch between what engineering marketers want from their advertising efforts, which is leads, and what you can easily get from a mobile user, which is awareness and a limited action. Smartphones just aren’t built to fill in forms easily.  Marketers who are successfully using mobile advertising are focusing their efforts on distributing content, which mobile users can easily consume and share.

Second, many engineering marketers have landing pages or even entire web sites that are not optimized for mobile visitors. The result is a complete disconnect between the platform and the outcome that the marketer wants.

And finally, the mobile offerings from publishers, even the big guys like Facebook and Google, are limited. The publishers are slow to present anything that truly connects the mobile user to an advertiser in a compelling way.  That’s especially true of trade publications. Even at, we are in the early innings of helping our customers to develop consistently excellent campaigns.

So this is the state of the market for mobile advertisers today. As time passes, publishers will offer better products for marketers, smartphones will become even more capable, and marketers will spend more. But if you can set aside some budget to experiment now, you may well get a leg up on your competition and be able to build a better funnel faster.

 Three ways to Experiment with Mobile Advertising Today

The first thing I would encourage you to do is to at least test out the mobile offerings from Facebook and Google. You will learn something about how they target, and how your ads perform. You might just hit a rich vein of ore and decide to allocate more budget.

Second, and I can’t stress this enough, you really need to make sure that your site overall and your landing pages in particular are optimized for mobile. Without that, all else is lost.

And for the third choice, I invite you to contact us at with any mobile campaign idea that you have. We run a very experimental publishing business that is open to trying new things. We also have a mobile audience that is in the hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors, and right now, you can have a shot at it at pretty attractive prices.

 More on the Future of Engineering Marketing

For more on the future of engineering marketing, please join me at a live Webinar on Feb 2nd. We’ll dig into all of the results of the 2017 engineering marketers survey, and give you all the insights on how your colleagues are allocating their budgets for this year.




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Research Report: How Engineers Find Information
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