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How agencies can support QSRs with mobile marketing strategies

Over the last two years, mobile marketing and how we measure performance marketing campaigns have changed drastically. Covid has reshaped how businesses interact with and advertise to consumers, and with changes to iOS privacy, brands have had a lot to get their heads around.

But what do these changes really mean for advertisers, and how can agencies support them?

We spoke with Phil Golas, the VP of Technology and Activation in Ad Operations at media agency Spark Foundry, for our Apptivate podcast. We explored the challenges facing brands entering the mobile marketing industry and how app marketing agencies can support and guide them through the entire app marketing campaign process.

Quick Service Restaurants: The interest in mobile marketing

Covid accelerated the growth of food delivery and further increases are on the horizon - this industry is expected to be worth $320 billion by 2029.

How consumers order food continues to change, and Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) must be mindful of market developments to remain competitive and relevant in the industry. Many have already adopted new tactics and experienced impressive results since the start of the pandemic. According to data from PYMNTS, 56% of restaurants offering “mobile order-ahead” options have recorded revenue increases, and 92% of top-performing restaurants allow customers to order via mobile app.

For many organizations in the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry, their interest in mobile marketing was born out of necessity. With the closure of brick-and-mortar stores due to Covid, traditional establishments had no choice but to turn to app marketing. These businesses are starting to capitalize on the now heavily-focused mobile market (think curbside pick-up and app ordering through DoorDash, both of which were new concepts to many QSRs).

« I think over the past year-and-a-half or two years, a lot of businesses have had to pivot the way that they conduct business. »

Phil Golas, Spark Foundry


A sizeable portion of brands that had previously served customers in real life had little idea about what led people to purchase at their counter. Mobile marketing opened up a new opportunity, a chance to understand attribution windows and access a side of customers they had never seen before. The dilemma: how to fully take advantage of this new channel and measure its impact?

There’s so much more to quantify and measure with mobile marketing, and QSR brands were only just beginning to understand that. Phil Golas, VP of Technology and Activation in Ad Operations at global media agency Spark Foundry, explained:

“I think over the past year-and-a-half or two years, a lot of businesses have had to pivot the way that they conduct business. So, we’re seeing a lot more advertisers, brands, and clients thinking about, asking about, and trying to get educated on mobile measurement and how to do that.” — Phil Golas, Spark Foundry

The mobile measurement challenges facing QSRs

Understanding what you can measure can be challenging for newcomers to mobile measurement, particularly with constant privacy updates within the ad tech industry. Finding educational resources was, and still is, one of the biggest issues facing QSRs in the mobile space. That’s why Spark Foundry prioritizes educating clients on privacy and engagement — showing them what they can measure, teaching them about last touch attribution and the AAT rollout, and discussing how measurement has evolved.

The QSR industry is moving from its traditional roots and is embracing the granular detail that is accessible through mobile measurement. For the first time, brands can see everything a consumer does after they have viewed their ad. They can understand customer lifetime value (LTV) and analyze rewards programs like never before.

This shift represents a lightbulb moment for QSR brands, highlighting that it’s very much adapt or die.

« As we started to learn more [about the iOS privacy update], it lessened the blow a bit. »

Phil Golas, Spark Foundry

How agencies can support brands through iOS privacy changes

Although there has been a rise in Android usage, there has not been a drastic change in spend on iOS, says Phil Golas. In episode 129 of Apptivate he states that Apple still has purchasing power, and it's unlikely that brands will move away from this operating system.

The arrival of Apple's new privacy updates back in 2021 caused many companies to panic and bump the breaks on iOS spending. However, they are now starting to tip their toes back in the water.

“As we started to learn more [about the iOS privacy update], it lessened the blow a bit. Then when it was implemented, we started seeing some of the numbers come through, and it felt like less of a gut-punch than we expected in a lot of ways.” — Phil Golas, Spark Foundry

A lack of knowledge and expertise around iOS and its privacy changes are often stumbling blocks for brands, and that is precisely where a trusted agency can support its clients. An agency team must educate itself and then its clients on these changes. Why does a campaign not show any conversions within 24 hours, for example? What does this mean? Deciphering what is happening and relaying that back to the client is crucial to building trust and avoiding rash decision-making.

Staying on your toes in a fast-moving industry

Tapping into the right expert knowledge is key for all agencies, particularly Spark Foundry. Phil says:

“We like to educate ourselves by talking to lots of vendors and people in the tech space. We try to build up relationships, so even if we’re not working with a particular piece of technology at that time, we can have that open dialogue to understand what the clients do, what’s on their roadmap, what’s something cool they’re coming out with, etc. This is super helpful for us.”

Phil also mentioned that Spark subject matter experts are on hand to educate the wider internal team on specific tech — sharing knowledge is crucial to progression in mobile because nothing stays still for long.

What’s in store for the future of mobile measurement?

Phil thinks there’s a lot of room for personalization and automation in mobile measurement. He mentions that clunky tech is maturing, and we all need more efficient ways of working — we need to see more API integrations between partners and better cross-collaboration between tech so that agencies can deliver the best results to clients.


On top of that, he stresses that advertisers must target the right people with personalization and that QSR brands must connect different pieces of technology to build a more holistic picture of their consumers.

Want to hear more from Phil Golas and Remerge? Listen to the full conversation via our Apptivate podcast.