VIDEO: Why Brands Are Warming to Hyperlocal

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sf13-551-tt3_2482For large brands, the upside of local is often shrouded in operational headaches, and overshadowed by the complexities of coordinating a decentralized, and often chaotic, campaign. Thanks to the rapid adoption of mobile devices and new innovations among vendors, however, brands’ attitude to local are starting to change.

“With mobile, and now social networks, becoming ubiquitous, local can be done at scale in ways that we not possible until now,” said Rob Reed, chief executive at MomentFeed, during a panel at Street Fight Summit West earlier this month in San Francisco. Reed joined Retailigence SVP Matthew Shevach and Brent Hall, group media director a digital ad shop AKQA, on stage to discuss the ways in which mobile is changing how brands look at local — and the challenges that continue to stymie adoption.

The change is part of a shift in thinking about mobile, and local, from another arm of advertising to a platform for facilitating commerce. In that sense, concepts like a user’s context that might demonstrate a willingness to buy at that moment become equally important as the digital advertiser’s traditional psychographic audience segments

“We know who’s interested in style, and we know who might be in the market for jeans, but we don’t know who might be ready to go into the store right now,” said Hall. “That’s what mobile does for [brands] — it offers that connected medium between reaching someone sitting at their coach and getting them in-store.”

The renewed emphasis on commerce reflects a changing consumer mindset as well, says Shevach. Emergent local commerce models like Amazon’s same-day delivery initiative open new ways for brands to make local marketing more transactional, and seamless, than ever before.

“It doesn’t need to be, “I’m out and about, and I can order something and get it in three days. Or, ‘I have to go find it at the local store.’ It can be, ‘I can get it delivered when I get home later that day,” said Shevach.” [Companies]are trying to figure out how to build this into an ad unit so that it’s transactional, and frictionless for the consumer, and that will be very big for the brands.”

But the link between a mobile click and an in-store action remains difficult to trace, an issue that makes many brands wary of local. The panelists agreed however, that new data products from payment players like Visa and better coordination among existing data players like Datalogic have vastly improved the ability for a brand to track a transaction from impression to purchase.

The consumer-facing local platforms are improving their marketing products for brands too, according to the speakers. MomentFeed’s Reed says that Foursquare’s upcoming ad products, which the company has yet to announce, will be the closely-watch firm’s “killer monetization machine.”

Street Fight Summit 2013 is coming soon to NYC. Find out what’s happening and how you can get a seat at Street Fight’s flagship event here.

Steven Jacobs is deputy editor at Street Fight.