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Location, personalization key factors in mobile advertising triumph

Mobile advertising presents an array of opportunities for marketers to communicate and engage with new and existing customers. Although the medium has taken huge strides over the past few years, companies are missing out by not incorporating location and relevance to make the experience more personalized.

Mobile advertising campaigns have changed over the past few years and marketers are continually looking at ways to better reach consumers. Although still new, the technology is there and marketers need to see location as a big player that will help them not only increase in-store traffic and sales, but be the vehicle that will drive user engagement and boast brand awareness.

?As marketers, we understand that location is the most logical step of increasing usefulness of the ad for the consumer and effectiveness for the advertiser,? said Iryna Newman, head of mobile marketing at Groupon, San Francisco.

?That?s why the next innovation in mobile advertising is to figure out how to do this dynamically, how to have the same ad that will target thousands of ZIP codes with offers and products relevant specifically to that area,? she said.

Location, location, location
Last year it was all about location.

Marketers were persistently looking at ways to get consumers in-store.

However, many times users were served a mobile ad that either had nothing to do with what they were interested in or there was no location element to the campaign.

Local is becoming a major focus for the mobile industry.

Whether it is daily deals, local businesses, local networks or recommendation engines, mobile applications are using location as a core element of engagement, retention and relevance.

?There are no doubts that in its drive for performance, the ad industry will also pursue local and provide micro-targeted messages to local audiences,? Ms. Newman said.

?The same performance drive will also shape ads to become more interactive and deliver rich relevant content to the user,? she said.                  

In addition to location, relevant content needs to be added into the marketing mix.

For example, a user can be served with a Best Buy mobile ad that tells them the nearest location is two miles away. However, that mobile ad could be intended for a certain demographic or for a specific niche market.

Therefore, it is important for marketers to find out who their target demographic is and how they can better target them.

For instance, there can be several ad creatives aimed at targeting various users. That way, consumers are served with a mobile ad that is relevant and personalized to them ? giving them a bigger incentive to tap on it.

?Most online rich media is still run in Flash, and there's a rich ecosystem of both tools ? Adobe's Flash Studio ? and well-trained professionals who know how to build for it,? Ms. Newman said.? HTML5 rich media is still young by comparison and so many of the basics from online aren't there to support it yet, but it's moving quickly.

?In mobile, cost and time are the main reasons why relevance of mobile advertising leaves a lot to be desired,? she said. ?Though static ads cannot provide optimal engagement and relevance for users they are very easy to build and inexpensive.

?Mobile marketers need to figure out a way to automate and radically reduce the costs and time required to create and manage rich media dynamic ad campaigns. At the same time rich media in itself is not the answer. Mobile marketers need to find a way to dynamically create widgets in an ad unit, based on the API data.?

Understanding mobile
Although the technology is there, mobile advertising has not become as smart as it should be.

Consumers are at a point where they know what they want and they demand it from marketers.

By using location, as well as relevant and personalized content marketers can build a better and more assertive relationship with new and existing customers.

However, that is currently lacking.

While location-based technologies have evolved in recent months, it is nothing without personalization.

When marketers add the two together, only then can they really reach consumers to the best of their abilities.

?I believe there are two main trends in mobile advertisement ? local or location targeted advertisement and interactive ads that behave similar to smartphone applications,? said Yuri Khidekel, president/founder of Adxcel, San Francisco. 

?Whether it is daily deals, local businesses, local networks or recommendation engines the mobile applications are becoming increasingly local,? he said. ?There is no doubt that the ad industry in its drive for performance will follow the same way and provide micro-targeted messages to local audience.

?The same performance drive will also drive the ads to become more interactive and deliver rich relevant content to the user.?   

Getting in the flow
Mobile is still being processed and developed into the work flow of many companies and agencies.

According to Marci Troutman, CEO of SiteMinis, Atlanta, marketers need to understand the space a bit better and have a defined option for delivery on time to meet the deadlines of the traditional marketing calendars, if they are to include a thoughtful digital option with each of their promotions throughout the year. 

"Each mobile ad that is sent out into cyberspace should have a specific purpose, we have dealt with companies that spend over 100k/month on Google ads without any backend data to prove worth, just because they thought it would drive traffic," Ms. Troutman said. "Just driving traffic isn't productive, there needs to be a specific return on image that is the expected result of the ad buys.

"Mobile advertising will get better over the next few years, remember we are still new to this marketing arm, it was just a few short years ago that iPhones hit the market - it takes time to set a standard, as it took time to set a standard for PC marketing," she said. "There are only a few companies that have a clear process outlined for mobile; as phones get smarter and consumers start to push for better, smarter advertising this process will change.

"Companies and brands are starting to really engage, if you notice the attached chart, mobile page views globally as of May 2012 is at 10.1 percent; but is still a huge jump from May 2011 at 5.8 percent - with mobile page views doubling and the adaption to smarter phones rising globally, mobile advertisers will start to get better at understanding the reach with mobile, and how to ensure they are being smarter about driving the right return on image."

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York