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How can brands turn ad views into store visits?

Driving consumers to mobile Web pages that give a marketer's location and contact information has become quite the trend with fast-food chains, automakers and retailers nationwide.

The ability to let a consumer discover that a brand is nearby has proven to be appealing to a consumer. This is precisely why Useful Networks and 1020 Placecast have joined forces to provide marketers with an automatic location-enabled store locator, which automatically retrieves a consumer's location.

"1020 Placecast is in detailed conversations with several retail-oriented brands to launch these new location-aware store locator ad units over the coming months as part of broader campaigns," said Blair Swedeen, vice president of business development for 1020 Placecast, San Francisco, CA.

The traffic to the store locator is driven by a standard mobile banner ad that offers the consumer the ability to find the nearest store for that retail brand.

The consumer does not need to key in their ZIP code or address, as the handset's GPS does all the work.

"In a recent Useful Networks market trial, click-through performance of auto-location-enabled store locator increased 10 times over the alternative of requiring a user to input a ZIP code," said Tom Parrish, vice president of business development for Useful Networks, Denver, CO.

Liberty Media Corp.'s Useful Networks works with mobile ad networks, mobile marketers, content providers and application developers who want to add anonymous user location data from the wireless carriers' networks to their application and service.

1020 Placecast is a location-based advertising service that deploys localized messaging and geotargeting on mobile devices and the Web, and then delivers to the consumer a customized landing page with a store locator based on their current location.

1020 Placecast's other partners include Navteq and Alcatel-Lucent (see story).

Useful Networks is cross-carrier location aggregator for carriers and content providers.

The company will provide Placecast with privacy-protected locations of consumers who request location-relevant content, like a retail store location, by clicking on a banner ad on the mobile Web.

For instance, a consumer who clicks on a mobile Web banner ad for a retailer will have their anonymous location information sent to Placecast from Useful Networks.

Placecast will then return a landing page with a store locator, which could include a map, directions and local phone number for the nearest retail store in real-time.

These customized landing pages will let advertisers tailor ads to specific consumers, with the goal of turning views into store visits.

Burger King and Subaru recently ran trial campaigns in cooperation with a tier-one U.S. carrier to let consumers find the nearest quick-serve restaurant or car dealership by clicking on a mobile banner ad (see story).

1020 Placecast's mobile advertising clients include Avis and Budget Rental Cars, Microsoft Windows Mobile, FedEx and Hyatt Hotels, although none of those brands has officially announced a mobile store locator offering as of yet.

"Users get a more relevant mobile Web experience by landing on a store locator page that has the nearest retail location, a map and directions and the local phone number," Mr. Swedeen said.

"1020 Placecast's advertisers get better campaign performance through higher conversions and ultimately more customers in their store," he said.

While location-based mobile advertising is still in its early days, its potential for brands is enormous.

"Even on the Web, location plays a big role, with roughly 30 percent of display campaigns already being geo-targeted in some form today," Mr. Swedeen said.