Are marketers using mobile and location-based advertising to its full potential? In this Q&A with Ian James (pictured below), GM international, Verve, ExchangeWire discusses the current location-based marketing landscape.
ExchangeWire: Where is location-based mobile marketing going in the wider advertising/marketing mix?
Ian James: In 2017, we saw further controversy surrounding trust across the industry; consumers continued to take action against ads they saw as intrusive and brands questioned the reliability of the digital metrics their media agencies were reporting following The Times exposé. However, whilst this may seem bleak to some, there is hope as we head further into 2018, and beyond, that we will see the industry work together to drive opportunity and sustainability. Location-based marketing tech is positioned well to play a key role in providing marketers the solution to deliver highly targeted campaigns, with invaluable insights.
I think we can expect to see a much wider adoption of location-based mobile marketing in the wider advertising/marketing mix. It ultimately boils down to the fact that accurate and precise location data gives brands the opportunity to tap right into the path of the consumer at a time when it is most relevant.
It is also worth bearing in mind that advertisers will be striving to reach consumers in trusted environments, which is something that can be guaranteed in-app with premium publishers. As trust is repaired, consumers will be willing to share, which in turn should drive creativity, rather than unclear campaigns using data based on broad assumptions about demographics. The figures that back this up are certainly hopeful – mobile is currently the fastest growing area of ad spend (up 38% year-on-year) and it has been forecast that as much as 43% of all ad spend will be location-targeted by 2019.
Considering that a large proportion of location data tends to be imprecise, what can marketers do to address this?
The first and most obvious way to address this is for marketers to be aware of the difference between good and bad data – whilst there is a wealth of location data at marketers’ disposal, it is paramount that they understand the varied sources and conditions that can affect quality. There are two main sources of location data: the ad exchange pool, and data extracted from the SDK (software development kit). Both options offer accurate data insights, but one isn’t guaranteed. Think of the ad exchange pool as a lucky dip: full of location data sets to utilise, but with no way of telling what you’re going to get. The difficulty with this source of data is that it typically holds less information to support its accuracy, so a marketer is left to work with which ever data set looks best, based on assumption.
The solution to this is to go directly to the source of the data – and this is where SDK technology comes in – by embedding a small piece of code into an app that sits on the consumer’s device. What this technology enables is richer insights into the movement of that device, and provides marketers with additional data sets to prove its accuracy: time-stamp data, horizontal confidence, and dwell-time. It’s here where lies a level of insight that should inspire creativity and empower advertisers to create experiences that consumers truly value, resulting in better-performing campaigns. This is an ongoing cycle – marketers need to gain trust from consumers by delivering relevant ads, but also ensuring they work with publishers that are open about how consumer data is used and stored, in order to gain true behavioural insights.
What are consumer attitudes towards location sharing and how have they changed?
There is no doubt that consumers are becoming more accustomed to the idea of sharing their device’s location with apps, in exchange for useful or personalised services, as long as publishers are transparent about how the data is being used. The research Verve recently carried out supports this – in a survey of 2,000 UK adults, 55% said they were happier sharing their data than they were two years ago, in return for relevant and targeted advertising. For too long, consumers have been subject to a barrage of irrelevant and intrusive ads which they, obviously, object to. However, if sharing their location means they can get the best deals on products and services that matter to them, conveyed by creative messaging that is both relevant and convenient, then the research shows that consumers are happy to engage.
With the not-so-distant GDPR movement on the horizon, the focus on personal data, consumer content, and transparency will be driving the future of our industry. The universe in which we exist will continue to transform over the coming twelve months, and only those investing in consumer trust and protection-compliance will succeed.
How can location data bridge the online and offline gap?
Whilst shopping online has seen mass growth over the past few years, it’s important to remember that over 80% of purchases still happen in stores. With this in mind, marketers need to do more with mobile technology, as it is absolutely fundamental in bridging the online and offline gap. The mobile device is unique in its fluid nature; it moves with us throughout our daily lives, connecting the multiple touchpoints that build unparalleled insights into who we are as individuals. These devices allow advertisers to use accurate location intelligence to follow the user digitally, within the real world. Accurate location insight can connect with offline technologies, such as beacons, CRM data, and POI (point of interest) data, to provide a wealth of intelligence, such as the exact time a consumer entered a store, and how much time they invested in said location. Such intelligence allows targeting that can be of real benefit to consumers, for example use of discount codes, offers, and coupons, or simply influencing them in the relevant context. In addition, marketers can build rich behaviour and contextual patterns and trends to better target them in the future. It’s deepening the relationship between brand and consumer, building a much clearer, more sustainable advertising ecosystem.