Going Beyond Standard Location Targeting to Reach Mobile Audiences

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targetA recent comScore report found that mobile has now reached mass penetration, with adoption now in the “late majority” stage of the technology lifecycle. But while mobile consumers have now really begun to integrate their devices into their daily lives, most advertisers remain stuck in the early-adoption phase of mobile marketing. But there is a group of early innovator advertisers who were among the first to try mobile, that are now moving onto more sophisticated targeting techniques.

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For the most part, these early mobile advertisers have moved beyond broad-based awareness strategies and have started to embrace the value of identifying and targeting their audiences using mobile-specific targeting techniques while others are still using standard geo-targeting methods commonly used in more traditional media channels such as desktop and radio.  To stay on top of this quickly evolving trend, it’s important to understand the different types of mobile targeting available, the tactics in use, the technologies that make them possible, and when they are most appropriate to use in your mobile advertising strategies.

Breaking Down Standard Location vs. Geo-Precision Targeting
Standard location targeting is a basic and well-known method of audience targeting which relies on static location data such as ZIP code, city or DMA to focus advertisements within specific geographic areas. While this method is the simplest of geo-targeting techniques, it can also be the most effective for certain types of businesses or campaigns. A recent study by Verve Mobile found that campaigns leveraging location targeting perform twice as well as other targeting techniques. An effective application of this type of strategy would be raising awareness among a more general audience within the confines of a specific area.  It is also the mobile geo-targeting method that best aligns with other targeting techniques used across other media channels. In fact, standard location targeting is the most granular location targeting available today in desktop, demonstrating inherent limitations of the medium in our mobile age.

Geo-precision targeting, however, allows advertisers to move beyond the limits of traditional targeting techniques in order to more granularly target their audience based on the user’s specific location (or the exact location of particular points of interest).  This type of targeting has proven effective for businesses whose goal is to raise awareness for a specific offering, product, service or events — but targeted to very specific local audience. This has proven to be highly effective in affecting mobile user decisions in the lower part of the purchase funnel by inciting location actions (such as driving in-store traffic and ultimately offline sales).

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Place-based Audience Targeting
Place-based targeting allows advertisers to reach mobile users that are in or around specific business locations (as described in the grocery example above).  Typically this targeting is combined with a technique called geofencing, which is the identification and creation of a virtual boundary around a physical geographic location via mobile location data such as GPS or wi-fi. Place-based targeting requires accurate user location data to ensure users are reached at the specific moment in time when they cross into a virtually fenced area.

An example of place-based targeting was leveraged by Calvin Klein in an effort to increase local market awareness and promote the brand’s latest line. The fashion brand geofenced Macy’s locations during store hours in order to drive in-store traffic to the major department store which carries the Calvin Klein line.  The implementation of a place-based targeting strategy resulted in a 26% lift in CTR over the client’s benchmark, and helped to increase local sales during the length of the campaign. These results were strengthened even further in a recent report by Google that found mobile queries related to shopping are 2x more likely to be conducted in the store, and so they are most likely to take notice of the mobile ads when they are inside that retail environment.

Geo-Behavioral Targeting
As mobile targeting technology and strategies evolve, we’ve seen a growing number of implementations of behavioral audience targeting in mobile, either on its own, or as an additional targeting layer. Why? Though location data can be effective in reaching more general mobile audiences, location data alone is not an effective way to identify and engage specific audience types.  When identifying geo-profiles, we leverage historical (and sometimes real-time) behavioral data as captured from specific networks or platforms as well as or in addition to 3rd party data sources to identify pockets of target audience activity.

Versions of this targeting method can be seen by companies such as JiWire and the use of their location graph as well as xAd with our use of geo-specific mobile search behaviors.  This method becomes even more essential when the goal is to reach a specific audience with a specialized message, such as a coupon for baby clothes at a popular children’s boutique, or to drive awareness for a new hotel in the area that caters to the frequent business traveler.  By utilizing this targeting technique, marketers can ensure the most efficient use of their ads funds and increased performance based on the relevancy of the ads.

It’s important to focus on not just the reach of a geofence, but also on effectively targeting your business’s relevant mobile audiences.  A little extra strategic effort goes a long way, and there is much to gain from leveraging the variety of data currently available and layering it appropriately to suit your campaign’s specific strategies and tactics — and ultimately reach your mobile audiences.

Annisa Farese is the marketing and communications manager for xAd Inc., which leverages local search data to drive performance in search and display campaigns for clients that range from local SMBs to global brands. To learn more about xAd, visit www.xAd.com or follow it on Twitter at @xAdInc.