The Call of the Mall: Where Mobile Advertising Might Really Rock

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You go there to shop. Period. That’s why you go to the mall. Or eat. Which is the same thing in that you… will… spend… money. Since you are going to be spending money, why not get deals that might help you save money? That’s the theory behind the upwelling of location-based advertising startups hoping to hit it big at the mall. Here’s a snippet from ReadWriteWeb:

“For example, real estate company DDR Corp., which owns hundreds of U.S. shopping centers, is using a location-based mobile marketing service at its 27 open-air malls across 16 markets to text deals from the retail tenants within those malls. DDR’s program ValuText, which is powered by Placecast, picks up when shoppers enter a mall’s border and those who have opted-in to the service receive text messages about sales and promotions happening in real time.”

And, in reality, this may be one of the smartest ways to crack the location-based advertising revenue pay and make couponing work well. In fact, the benefits of layering hyperlocal onto a mall experience are numerous. For starters, as I mentioned, intent is determined. You don’t need to hope that someone walking by a Big Chain Store is actually interested in going shopping at the moment. Because they have of their own free will walked onto the premises, you *know* they want to shop.

Secondly, a mall operator can easily sell or promote the service (or even include it in lease terms) to many shops. This means the hyperlocal advertising or couponing company can obtain many new customers with one sales call. Of course, this is also doable with chain stores and it certainly solves the geotargetting problem to send someone who walks into your store and has opted in to a couponing app that your store works with to send that someone a special deal. But again, for people outside the store intent is a slippery slope and “spot the shopper” could be a dangerous game.

Thirdly, the mall operator brings significant marketing chops to the table, as well. It’s one thing to have a logo and sign-up message at the register or on the front window of a single store. It’s entirely another to have the whole mall plastered with come-ons to sign up for a service. That same mall, also, likely runs local advertising (which is part of the leases signed by the tenants) and can plug the mobile advertising or couponing offering via that vehicle, as well.

Granted, selling to mall operators is a tough nut. They know that they hold the golden keys and they extract serious concessions from any company that attempts to make money off their mall and tenants. As well they should. But the local advertising and couponing market remains highly fragmented, as we discussed in the last post. One way to speed up adoption is go for environments where its easier to add new merchants and those merchants will get a more concentrated and noticeable hit. Ergo, the call of the mall.

Alex Salkever’s Personal Fight column appears every Friday on Street Fight.

Photo credit: Flickr user cliff1066.