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Over the last decade, the evolution of mobile phones has been so fast paced that this device has replaced a lot of gadgets in our lives. A case in point is that it has actually supplanted the GPS units (Global Positioning system) which were mostly used as a separate device. Since GPS has been an integral part of mobile phones for some years now, marketers have begun leveraging this feature to geo-target their existing/potential customers.

Let's take a closer look at the important role mobile geo-location is playing in marketing/advertising.

Advertisers can choose from three different strategies of geo-targeting (the practice of delivering tailor-made content to a user, based on his/her geographic location) and using location data. They can actually use all three of them together, to optimize marketing deliverables.

How to leverage Geo-targeting for successful brand campaigns?

Geo-Aware Ads - Ads based on the exact real-time location of a mobile user and adjusted for other factors like weather, local conditions, events or happenings around a certain distance would fall in this category of location based advertising.

Google has been offering Geo-aware ads for quite some time now and Facebook and Twitter also allow advertisers to target audience based on their location.

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Geo-aware ads have shown better results because they are more specific and targeted better. For example, supermarkets like Wal-Mart offering discount coupons to people in the vicinity of any nearby store.

Geo-Fencing is setting a perimeter around a physical location & serving mobile ads in that specific area. The ads may be creative enough to get users interested based on their preferences or cater to their specific needs like finding a nearby ATM, pizza place or a service center of a company. For example, a hotel near the airport or train station can target ads based on their proximity to these locations and offer travelers discount for staying at the hotel.

Geo-Conquesting is a variation of geo-fencing. It works by setting a perimeter around a competitor's location and serving ads to mobile users in that area. Instead of delivering the ad to the user when they are near your business, you can target them when they are in the vicinity of the competitor. There are a lot of success stories of geo-fencing and while the data is not substantiating enough, the signs are positive.

One of the most successful geo conquesting campaigns was implemented at the Meat Pack departmental store, wherein one footwear store hijacked customers from another competitor store and so on and so forth.

Data, Geo Targeting and Personalization

Geo location services provide businesses opportunity to geo-target their audience and get better results for their advertising campaigns. This has been possible because of the emergence of social media as an extremely popular channel of communication.

There is a reasonable explanation for the connection between Geo-targeting and Social Media Channels. With the advent of social media and consumers getting comfortable sharing content online (Status updates, pictures, video and even location), it is easier for companies to get location data and use this data to personalize their market campaigns and geo-target their users.

Another big reason is the development of mobile phone devices which are now capable of a lot of complex tasks like continuous location sharing through Wi-Fi or 2G networks.

There are even location based apps and services like Foursquare, Waze, Yelp, FieldTrip, which have amassed tremendous amount of user generated content catering to different sets of users and have been providing valuable information to marketers for monetizing this data.

Why location based advertising makes a great deal of sense?

There are some really important findings from the volume of data that has been available with research firms about mobile phone usage and location based advertising. The chief among them which should encourage you to come up with a geo-based advertising strategy are:-

  • The number of smartphones shipment has been constantly on the rise so mobile strategy is a must-have. (Source)
  • Consumers respond to mobile marketing by clicking on ads more often, demonstrating greater acceptance of ads on mobile platforms. (Source)
  • More consumers are looking for local information on mobile phones, since it is the primary on-the-go internet enabled device. (Source)
  • Consumers use their phone in stores. (Source)
  • Consumers are more responsive to mobile marketing when geo-location ads are relevant to buying decisions. (Source)
  • On-the-go consumers with mobile are action-oriented. (Source)
  • Local search on mobile devices is normally performed by the younger generation who are more comfortable with mobile usage. (Source)
  • Mobile-ad campaign performance data is available in significant volume and detail. (Source)
  • Consumers prefer mobile websites and apps. (Source)
  • Searches for local business on mobile devices resulted into a store visit more often than searches on desktop computer. (Source)
  • Mobile location based campaigns are delivering solid revenue for businesses. (Source)

Since mobiles are increasingly equipped with geo-location, geo-targeting these devices and their users will become the next advertising frontier for advertisers. The early momentum has shown encouraging signs and a lot of data is already available for advertisers to fine tune their marketing campaigns.

Businesses can be innovative by designing strategies which are not pure advertising but a means of branding themselves for e.g. claiming their business page on Foursquare, Facebook, or Google+ and offering special discounts, promotions or general locations based info on these pages to mobile users.

Mobile Geo-location marketing techniques are expanding as advertisers continue to realize its potential. The evolution of these methods would lead to some innovative campaigns being developed and centered on them.