How brands are tapping into the power of where

The rich data now being generated by mobile devices is taking location marketing to a whole new level, Nigel Clarkson says.

Location marketing: information is obtained from cell-tower data, Wi-Fi and GPS. Credit: Aaron Parecki
Location marketing: information is obtained from cell-tower data, Wi-Fi and GPS. Credit: Aaron Parecki

The big growth area in mobile, alongside the unstoppable rise of video content, is in location marketing. Local or proximity marketing is by no means a new media concept. Out-of-home has offered clients the ability to put an outdoor message in a highly relevant location for years. As have regional press titles and regional radio, allowing local advertisers to target in a tighter geographical area.

So is this another case of the emperor’s new laptop, whereby the digital industries seemingly reinvent traditional media practices as unique and new (for this, read native/advertorial; programmatic/ trading etc)? Well, not really.

The concept of digital location has been transformed with the advent of mobile location data, to the extent that it has been coined the "cookie of digital". Your digital footprint gives advertisers, media planners and creatives an opportunity to combine the concept of "where" with "who" for the first time at scale.

We use a combination of cell-tower data, Wi-Fi and GPS to ensure the most accurate targeting of known audiences at scale. There is the challenge of privacy and the concept of consent to receive location messages, which will become increasingly important for brands. And that’s all you need to know. No smoke, no mirrors – just facts.

It can be broken into three key areas.

"Home location" is where someone lives and, as a result, perfect for evening messages (food, entertainment or online shopping) or for retailers to target local or swing shoppers (a customer in a shared catchment area with a competitor’s store).  

'The challenge of privacy will become increasingly important'

"Habitual location" is where someone has been and brings the ability to build patterns of behaviour and segments of people. Do you want consumers who are regular visitors to a mall on a weekend, to the gym midweek, to football grounds, or to supermarkets? These tribes of real-world travel patterns are hugely valuable to marketers. Habitual location enables us to have conversations with OOH companies to help advise the best places for outdoor ad­vertising based on known audience movement habits.

And, third, there is "live location" – the apparent holy grail for retail advertisers in being able to send the right message to the right place at the right time. The challenge of hitting someone "now" in real time when they are walking past a store is that people generally aren’t browsing long-form content or apps while on the move. And, if they were, would an ad message be the thing that makes them spin on their heels and enter the store?

What is required is a disruptive message that brings about an immediate action. We recommend that clients use SMS for live campaigns because of its immediacy and the fact that it is the quickest-opened and most-read of all digital formats. The ability to set up an active geofence that triggers messages as consumers enter a pre-defined catchment area is a truly programmatic execution and, on SMS, a native solution.

So, be sure of what you want to get from location marketing, be aware of the multiple data sources available and make sure you tie in contextual data such as weather and time so that the creative execution matches the data that is educating the media decision. And be aware that the power of where is available now.

Nigel Clarkson is the commercial director at Weve