Using geolocation to enhance mobile marketing

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Geolocation can help us target consumers based on where they go physically, combined with where they go online, says Puja Pannum

What’s the best way for a brand to get to know its customers?

Facebook profiles may reveal a thing or two. Knowing their age, gender and profession will also help. But in order to get a truly holistic picture of their customers, brands need to take a look at where they go.

Today, sophisticated location data is revealing insights into customer habits and interests like never before. But geo-location – the process of identifying customers’ locations – doesn’t just mean pinpointing their real-time whereabouts; it also means understanding where – and therefore how – they spend their lives. These new insights are empowering brands to target the right audience with the right ad at the right time.

Data analytics has provided marketers with a treasure trove of information to optimise audience targeting. Until now, this targeting has mostly been based on online browsing histories and basic personal information. But with the ability to collect detailed location data, technology is enabling brands to deliver ads to audience segments more specific than ‘young female professionals’ or ‘all men who’ve searched for furniture online’.

In fact, location data can equip marketers with real-time insights into what customers are doing and how they might be feeling. Knowing whether someone is working in the office or walking to the grocery store is valuable knowledge for marketers; it can mean the difference between interrupting a business presentation with an inappropriate video ad, or sending a practical grocery store coupon to a customer’s mobile phone.

But location targeting relies on more than just real-time location data. Long-term, historical data can be leveraged for highly effective marketing as well. After all, the spaces we inhabit – the neighbourhoods, stores, and streets where we spend our lives – reveal a lot about what we value and enjoy. An advertisement about a new gallery opening would be perfect for a woman who shows her interest in art by visiting museums each weekend.

Combined with basic personal information and browsing histories, location data provides the missing link for hyper-targeted advertising. Here are four ways geo-location can be leveraged to improve a brand’s targeting strategies:

1. Reach the right people

On a basic level, using location to deliver ads to the right people means making sure a Dubai-based retailer isn’t delivering ads indiscriminately to individuals in Europe.

But location data can also help brands segment their audiences further. A high-end retailer that has saturated its market of affluent locals, for instance, can use location data to target professionals in town for business by delivering ads to those staying at the local five-star hotel.

2. Target previously hidden audiences

Targeting audiences based on gender or search history has proven to be effective. A fitness brand, for instance, can use this information to target men who frequently look at fitness clothes and sports equipment online.

But what about the individuals that may be sporty, but don’t browse fitness products online?

Location data can provide access to this invisible market by identifying the sporty types based on where they go, whether it’s the gym, a yoga studio or the local tennis courts.

3. Catch consumers in the right place …

Location data can also help brands target consumers in real time, with ads that make sense for individuals based on where they are in a given moment.

Let’s say an affluent woman who has recently been browsing convertibles online comes within 500 metres of a car dealership. A car brand can send an ad to the woman’s phone, offering a 30 per cent deposit contribution when she comes into the store to book a test drive. Using location data in this way is likely to both increase footfall and sales.

4. … at the right time

Just because a brand has figured out someone’s location, it doesn’t mean any ad will do. Location data can also be used to inform which format would work best.

An individual whose online history shows he’s in the market for a new car probably wouldn’t want to watch a three-minute video ad just because he’s walking by the local car dealership. A simple banner ad might work better in that situation.

But storing that individual’s location data from earlier in the day can help the advertiser later: while the man is leisurely using his laptop at home over wi-fi, a video ad about taking a test-drive at the local dealership would go over well.

Brands have a lot of choice when it comes to targeting audiences. While basic personal information and purchase histories remain important, marketers cannot overlook what is quickly becoming one of the most insightful indicators of an individual’s interests and desires: where they go.

Today, marketing strategies have to see consumers for what they really are: online personas that navigate the web and real-life beings that traverse the physical world. That means leveraging real-time and historical location data to deliver ads tailored to who the person is, where they are and where they’ve been.

Because when it comes to consumer marketing, location targeting is where we’re going.

Puja Pannum is managing director of Blis MENA

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