How Can Marketers Take Geolocation Further?

In today’s guest piece, Ken Parnham, general manager Europe for location intelligence platform Near, discusses how marketers are now able to identify a consumer’s location to deliver relevant and contextualised content in real time – a game changer for marketers.

Research by mobileSQUARED has revealed that 70-80% of brands active in mobile are keen to utilise geolocation targeting.

However, a lack of understanding about the technology is hindering marketers from taking full advantage of its capabilities – and even deterring some from exploring the full potential of location data.

A common misconception is that geolocation data is only beneficial in the retail sector. While it is certainly effective at generating insights on (and targeting consumers in the immediate vicinity of) a retail store or business, geolocation data can also be used to understand a brand’s complete audience and their preferences in order to build brand awareness. Insights afforded by geolocation data can also be leveraged in attribution modeling and to inform broader marketing and business strategies.

So, what do marketers need to consider when integrating geolocation data into their marketing toolkit to fully maximise its benefits?

As with any successful marketing strategy, marketers should focus on the objectives and key deliverables they need to achieve from using geolocation. Objectives could include gathering consumer insights, targeting audiences, measuring attribution, or studying consumer preferences for building broader business intelligence.

Understanding the consumer

Location data empowers marketers with access to previously unavailable data about how consumers interact with devices, products and brands.

These insights become crucial when you consider that today’s path to purchase is a complex labyrinth of online and offline touchpoints. A consumer may discover a product on social media, research it across multiple retail sites, compare prices on a variety of platforms, and purchase in a physical store.

Data from search, social, content consumption, location, cross-screen, point-of-sale (POS) and countless other outlets allows marketers to gain a granular level of insight into the interests, shopping patterns and buying intent of consumers. Armed with these insights, marketers can connect the dots across the entire consumer journey and even compare customer behaviour with competitor stores.

Insights into where consumers live, work, eat, and holiday can also yield huge results on both online and offline revenues. For example, a business executive and a full-time parent browsing the web on their mobile phones could both be served personalised adverts for nearby restaurants through geolocation technology. The business executive would see ads for upmarket gourmet restaurants, and the full-time parent for child-friendly eateries.

The power of mobile data will only increase with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT). Marketers will have access to even more information on how consumers interact with devices and products, offering a clearer view of how consumers interact with brands as a whole.

Of course, data alone does not equal success; so it is imperative that marketers do not just focus on the largest numbers, but analyse patterns over a period of time using historical location data and content consumption behaviour to identify and target the right audience.

Reaching the right audience

As the number of devices used by consumers increases – accelerated by the IoT and connected devices becoming mainstream ­– marketers need to work harder to maintain engagement by using insights to target the right consumer, at the right time, in the right place.

Historic geolocation data provides marketers with intelligent learnings from the past that can be used to identify where best to target the correct audience. This is particularly useful during peak sales periods, such as Boxing Day, whereby marketers can use historic data to identify an audience based on gender, age, occupation, or a combination of factors, and target the busiest areas of footfall and optimum times of day.

Analysing location data also gives marketers the power to choose their own audiences. For example, does the audience profile a brand is targeting match those who attend Wimbledon, or concerts at the O2? It can also ensure that marketing activity takes place at the right time of day. A fitness brand might want to engage consumers while they are focused on exercise and out for their morning run. Combining location with time can help pinpoint audiences further to yield greater results.

The ad creative served using location technology is just as important as other mediums. Rich media ads on mobile are four-times more effective than banner adverts, but it’s crucial the user is put at the heart of any experience for the best results.

In our recent campaign for Adidas, engagement was three-times more impactful than its previous campaigns, due to the targeted and immersive experience. The ad creative carried an ‘Explore’ option, which directed consumers to a custom-built rich page where they could learn about the product features. The landing page had ‘Watch Video’ and ‘Shop Now’ options that allowed users to view the video to understand the full product features, enabled instant purchases, and encouraged social interactions with the brand.

However, creativity shouldn’t come at the cost of making an ad accessible. If the consumer needs to change their screen orientation or search for additional information – such as the location of the nearest store – marketers will lose their attention. We have found that ad performance improves when consumers have this information at their fingertips. In fact, in a campaign for Beer Wine Spirits Australia, location-targeted mobile ads displaying store distance saw 71% higher engagement levels compared with the same ads that did not include distance information.

Geolocation data is also a great tool for targeting and attribution modeling, particularly when a physical store is not part of a campaign. For example, an automotive brand might use location data insights to target an audience with a bespoke creative that opens to reveal a 360-degree view of its latest model, enabling consumers to explore its features and schedule a test drive before they even enter a showroom, then feeding insights into their attribution modeling.

Attributing the consumer journey

Measuring mobile marketing activity is challenging because of the cookieless environment. Some marketers have looked to Apple’s IDFA system for tracking on iOS and Google ID for Android, but used in isolation these do not provide a full picture of the customer journey.

Further to insights and targeting, location technology benefits from offering marketers the means for online and offline attribution. From location footprints that are mapped to device identifiers, brands can measure ROI on digital and Out of Home spend and understand whether a purchase has come as a result of an in-app mobile advert.

For example, Shell geofenced its petrol stations and competitor outlets to target nearby consumers with product and service offerings via their mobile phones. It was then able to map activity to track whether consumers proceeded to visit the promoted store, and attribute their paths to conversion. Shell saw a 14% jump in footfall at the selected outlets, with 20% coming from competitor stores.

Geolocation data is a vital marketing tool for brands. By exploiting the technology’s full capabilities, marketers will never need to make assumptions based on who their target audience is and where they are – they will have the insight to know the answer.