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Precise location, big data power charge marketers geotargeting strategies

With initial location-based trials behind them, many national brands are enhancing their geo-targeting strategies using geo-conquesting and behavioral data to provide a more precise location and increase relevancy.

The ability to leverage smartphone users? GPS to deliver an ad relevant to their location is appealing to marketers who are used to sending out messaging and never knowing when or where they will be looked at. While initial efforts have produced promising results, marketers are looking to move the needle even more with more sophisticated geo-targeting.

?In Q2 we had over 90 percent of our campaigns leveraging some form of geo-precise targeting,? said Monica Ho, vice president of marketing at xAd, New York. ?Out of this we are now seeing a shift to targeting techniques that go beyond the standard geo-fence.

?Two popular techniques we are seeing emerge are geo-conquesting and targeting around mobile consumer passion points and/or brand affinities,? she said.

?Across our network we are seeing about a third of our national brand campaigns leveraging these more sophisticated targeting techniques. This has grown from just a one-quarter of our campaigns in Q1.?

Scaling up
Mobile local ad network xAd reports that its location platform has grown by more than 300 percent this year, reflecting the growing interest in location-based marketing.

Some of the new strategies for location-based targeting begin to address the issue of delivering mobile ads at scale with location-based targeting, as most consumers are not sharing their precise longitude and latitude data except during specific activities such as checking in at a location.

?There?s also the challenge that sheer location targeted mobile ad placement can sometimes come at the expense of reach,? said Michael Boland, senior analyst and vice president of content at BIA/Kelsey, Chantilly, VA. ?But using location instead to profile and target audience segments broadens the locus of targeting beyond impression-depleting locales.?

Geo-conquesting is one strategy experiencing strong interest from marketers because it takes into account a user?s current location and proximity to a competitor when targeting ad messages.

Geo-conquesting can also be used to target messages to consumers who have visited a competitor in the past.

The social approach
Another strategy is passion point/brand affinity targeting, which targets areas or places that certain audiences tend to frequent.

XAd used this strategy for a quick-serve restaurant client to extend its mobile reach beyond its location geo-fences by finding popular dwelling areas of targeted users.

Ads were targeted at popular areas such as the most popular local gym and frequent lunch hang-outs, with messages delivered to the targeted audience when they were around these locations.

Another way to enhance geo-targeting is by combining a user?s location information with insights derived from social data.

For example, several of newBrandAnalytics' food and beverage clients are monitoring the social data of their competitors, so when a dissatisfied customer sends a tweet to the brand?s corporate handle, the platform predicts which store location is being referenced by the user?s geo-position. This provides the marketer with a chance to engage with dissatisfied guests and lure them away from the competition.

The danger with this approach is that users can be scared off when it becomes apparent that marketers know where they are and what they want.

?If someone in Atlanta mentions getting engaged on Facebook and starts asking brides where they got their dress, a local bridal shop could combine that interest with geo-location data and reach out with information about a sample sale," said Kam Desai, cofounder of newBrandAnalytics.

"Combining location with interest for a targeted promotion that?s very relevant to that particular consumer," he said. "If you?re sharing authentic, relevant information, consumers will value that. Knowing location is just another tool to be able to customize campaigns more effectively."

Colliding with Big Data
Another way that marketers are stepping up their location targeting strategies is by leveraging users? location history.

For example, Samsung TV recently worked with Jiwire to target mobile ads to user who frequently and recently visited electronics stores in the past when they were nearby a participating Best Buy store. The campaign drove a 1.03 percent click-through rate (see story).

?Location targeting is evolving quickly as the age of mobile collides with the age of big data,? BIA/Kelsey?s Mr. Boland said.

?Signals being captured by smartphones and processed through apps and cloud platforms are unlocking all kinds of valuable data by which to target ads not just by location but location-oriented factors like weather and demographic patterns,? he said. ?

This takes form in things like smarter geofences which companies like xAd are innovating. It also moves forward with the use of location to profile audiences with greater granularity.?

As location-based targeting gets more sophisticated and the ability to deliver campaigns at scale improves, more marketers are likely to jump on board.

?The adoption is already there for some advertisers but many more will catch on, just as advertising generally follows consumer behavior and ad tech ? from which all signs point to mobile local opportunities,? Mr. Boland said.

?Madison Avenue will get there en masse and in earnest,? he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York