Cidewalk Expands to Bring Mobile Marketing to Local Businesses Overseas

Merchants in the U.S. aren’t alone in their struggles to connect with local customers. Around the globe, local businesses are searching for more cost-effective ways to reach nearby consumers through mobile advertising. The digital marketing firm Cidewalk is looking to bring those businesses into its fold by expanding its reach globally, the company announced on Friday. 

In response to growing demand for digital marketing services outside the U.S., Cidewalk is extending its platform reach to cover all countries. CEO Venkat Kolluri says the decision to expand globally was made in response to the growing demand from businesses for lightweight, easy-to-use digital marketing channels to target consumers online at any location. 

“Pandemic-related lockdowns accelerated the shift from offline to online offerings and services, with more and more consumers spending more time on mobile devices,” Kolluri says. “Businesses in the U.S. and across the world are clearly seeing mobile as an essential channel to connect with their customers.”

Mobile Evolution

It’s been six years since Cidewalk was spun off from Chitika.com, an internet advertising company that worked with Fortune 500 companies. In 2015, Chitika invested $4 million to fund the spinoff of its mobile advertising business unit, now known as Cidewalk. In the time since then, Kolluri says it’s become even more apparent that medium-size businesses struggle to find access to the same types of tools as their larger peers, especially when it comes to targeting multiple locations. 

Car dealerships interested in targeting neighboring towns, for example, have shown particular interest in Cidewalk’s mobile advertising solutions. Local businesses making the transition to online delivery services began making up a larger portion of Cidewalk’s user base during the pandemic, as well, when those businesses began realizing the potential of expanding their reach beyond their neighborhoods. 

“Recently we also started getting requests from pure e-commerce companies interested in reaching audiences both within and outside of the U.S. Essentially, our advertisers’ needs made us evolve,” Kolluri says.

Increased interest from businesses located outside the U.S. led Kolluri and his team to research more about the digital marketing strategies used by merchants in those global markets. It quickly became clear that domestic businesses and international businesses are equally interested in connecting with targeted audiences at specific locations. While U.S. businesses have long understood the value of investing in long-term awareness building campaigns, Kolluri says many advertisers from outside the U.S. have just begun making the transition to digital. 

“SMBs outside the U.S. have tighter budgets with limited resources and prefer time-sensitive short-term direct response-based promotions featuring special sales deals and offers,” Kolluri says. 

Research into the needs of merchants in emerging global markets led to the development of Blast Ads, a type of campaign that allows advertisers to set up and launch ad campaigns targeting a specific location—for example, an event or a trade show—over a specific time period. Blast Ads is now available in addition to Cidewalk’s regular monthly subscriptions. Advertisers can set up and launch geofenced local ad campaigns, targeting any location with budgets as low as $5. 

Plans are also in place to expand Cidewalk’s offerings to cater to businesses in different time zones, with online real-time SMS-based chat and email-based customer support.

“Geofenced enabled location-based digital mobile marketing is clearly turning out to be the go-to marketing strategy for SMBs, national, and multinational businesses,” Kolluri says.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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