Two Mobile Marketing Studies Sketch Location Data’s Role in Cross-Channel Measurement

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Two studies released last week by industry organizations provide useful advice on mobile marketing tactics and using location data. As mobile consumes an increasing share of digital marketing, both studies point to the need to apply integrated, cross-channel measurement techniques, and to use location data for targeting, customer segmentation, and attribution.

IAB location-data playbook for retailers
The Interactive Advertising Bureau produced its “Location-based Marketing Playbook for Retailers” with input from its working group on mobile location data, who are mostly location data suppliers and some media companies. The playbook makes recommendations for each of the stages of the classic buying cycle, and references some brief case studies. It’s easily digestible and sensible, if fairly shallow. Some highlights include the following:       

  • Consideration. The playbook points out that location data can add deeper insights in identifying prospective customers in conjunction with browsing behavior, and suggests that they can be profiled by recurring physical purchase paths. It recommends that location data play a key role in multichannel attribution, particularly for TV and out-of-home advertising where it is usually hard to measure non-branding results.
  • Evaluation. The IAB sees proximity targeting as the key factor in driving store visits, especially when a consumer is closer to the purchase decision. It sketches out a program where Elle magazine enabled location-based notifications and offers. It concedes the industry still needs a standardized methodology for visitation measurement. It describes beacon-powered in-store personalization and assistance tactics with an Urban Outfitters case study. I remain skeptical here: while beacons are no longer science fiction, deployment is only just getting underway. At least the playbook points out how difficult it is to get consumers to download and use apps that would enable this personalization.
  • Purchase. Here the study focuses on using location data to “close the measurement loop,” with an emphasis on cross-screen campaigns. Yet it points out that mobile payment systems still aren’t widely used.
  • Loyalty. Perhaps oddly, rather than addressing loyalty programs, the playbook discusses how retailers can use location data to understand where customers go before and after a store visit, to understand their “ritual” behavior and model lookalike prospects.

MMA Allstate case study
Meanwhile, the Mobile Marketing Association posted the latest in its series of case studies on cross-marketing attribution, this one focusing on an Allstate campaign that, in addition to web and TV, used mobile video and audio clips for branding, and mobile banner ads to drive sales. While auto and home insurance are high-consideration products that aren’t bought frequently, this case study is rich in detail and should be useful for a broad range of enterprise local marketers. Some of the key findings from the case study include:

  • Attribution. The Allstate case study showed a practically zero correlation between clickthroughs and sales. Instead, using device IDs to track potential customers across multiple devices, sites, and locations proved to give the more accurate representation of customer impact, as well as enabling better optimization.
  • Targeting. Banners that used behavioral targeting were the most effective technique Allstate used for generating incremental sales per dollar spent. Retargeting was also effective, and contextual targeting helped with consideration, especially for the video ads. Allstate didn’t use location targeting to drive store visits, but rather for detecting purchase intent. 
  • Format and medium. The shorter the video (clipped from the TV campaign) and audio, the more cost effective they were. And even though mobile in-app ads are more expensive than mobile web ads, they proved to be more efficient. Targeting and format proved to have a bigger impact on lift than optimizing the creative.
  • Media mix. The test suggested that to achieve the highest cost effectiveness, Allstate should allocate 13% of its total ad budget across all media to mobile. If it tweaked the mobile formats and targeting a bit, it should increase that spending to 17%.

Neither study dives into the emerging role of mapping apps as an advertising medium, nor do they address the latest mobile advertising buzz around pay-per-visit pricing. But both reinforce the necessity for location data in marketing ROI measurement, and give useful advice on how to use it. The IAB playbook is a little thin and too beacon-happy, but it sketches out a reasonable collection of best practices. The MMA case study is more focused, and thus meatier, even if your results may vary if you’re not in the insurance business. 

David Card is Street Fight’s director of research.