As Mobile Takes Off, Hyperlocal Evolves

Share this:

As smartphone usage increases in the U.S, mobile is finally making the transition from perennial “future star” to emerging powerhouse. Street Fight checked-in at IAB’s Mobile Marketplace conference earlier this week to find out more about how hyperlocal will fit into the mobile equation.

A lot of stats were thrown around to demonstrate mobile’s massive growth but here are a few that stood out:

– 88% of respondents say their smartphone is the first thing they touch in the morning
– Mobile data traffic has increased by 260% in the last year
– 1 in 3 mobile searches are local

So what does this mean for the hyperlocal space? Speakers at the conference discussed the implications for hyperlocal across three major mobile categories:

As Street Fight has reported, mobile location data provides an incredibly powerful opportunity for brands to reach customers on a hyperlocal level.  Location data is at the core of mobile, stressed Maria Mandel, VP of Marketing and Media Innovation at AT&T AdWorks, in an IAB workshop on Monday.  While both Mandel and Marc Theermann, VP Mobile at ad platform AdMeld, agree that geo-relevancy is the most exciting new piece in mobile advertising, 71% of marketers and publishers surveyed by Mandel’s office reported that the privacy implications surrounding location data was their primary concern in entering the mobile space.

According to the IAB, Congress has already held a handful of hearings on data privacy in recent months as well as a full-on FCC/ FCT LBS forum in late June. In a presentation highlighting the IAB’s public policy efforts, Mike Zaneis, SVP and General Counsel for the IAB, emphasized the need for industry leaders to proactively implement self-regulatory programs as well as reach out to consumers with transparent explanations of their location data sharing practices.

Consider this: 70% of smartphone owners use their device while in a store, 54% use their device to find a store, 49% compare prices with their mobile, 48% use their smartphone to read reviews, and 34% use their device to check if something is available.

Mobile commerce is not simply ecommerce on a smaller screen. “The important thing to think about mobile commerce,” Heather Hopkins Freeland of Gilt City explained during her keynote address, “is not about what happens on [consumers] phones’ but where people are when they have their phone.”  She added: “There are amazing things you can do on your phone that suddenly help the conversion process.”

Payment is a big part of this transition.  With Near Field Communications (NFC) technology adopted by both Google and PayPal in recent months and with an estimated 1-in-5 smartphones world-wide to be NFC-ready by 2014, the mobile phone will be a the core of the local shopping experience.

The immediate message for hyperlocal publishers is fairly clear: not quite yet. In an article published earlier this week on Street Fight, Metro Publisher VP Mark Pratt said: “I think in two years time, the world will look quite different. [Hyperlocal publishers] will have a lot more choices [in mobile] and will save themselves thousands of dollars.”

Make sure to consider your audience when thinking about mobile. Mobile usage is contextual, says Simon Bond CMO of BBDO & Proximity Worldwide. Mobile behavior varies markedly amongst demographics and cultures, he added. Take Hispanic communities: according to Lopez-Negrete Communications, Hispanic populations are more likely than other groups to access the internet through their smart phone. So think about your audience; if you serve a Hispanic community you may need to consider a mobile option sooner rather than later.

The general rule of thumb for making an impact in mobile is to add value, Paul Gelb Mobile Practice Lead at Razorfish explained on a panel.  Mobile allows advertisers to tell more linked stories that can drive action.