Location-based mobile ads: how do you get it right?

Location-based mobile ads: how do you get it right?Research suggests that location-based mobile advertising is more appealing than ever.

Celtra’s Q3 2012 Rich Media Monitor Report last December found that although only 7% of mobile campaigns had location features, those aspects of the ad had the highest rate of engagement (18.8%).

Admittedly this study was in the US, but here too location-based ads are taking off. Logically, of course, they’ll be a real shot in the arm for companies that work primarily locally, such as restaurants, taxis, hairdressers, plumbers/electricians etc. Used correctly, they can help attract new customers and build relationships.  

And the data backs this up: According to Google, 85 percent of UK smartphone users have searched for local information and 81 percent have taken action as a result. In fact, 13 percent look for local information every day and thus may be most receptive to advertising.

However, there is a cost involved for those local companies, which historically have not been that keen on spending marketing pounds as it is hard to see the direct return on investment per channel.  Coupons and other promotions will probably end up being more widely used than brand advertising, as the former can be tracked and ROI may be easier to determine.

So, location-based ads are good for local amenities. But the big global brands all have close relationships with retailers and can also use localised advertising to drive footfall, provided they control and use their data correctly.

For example, if a group of teens are on a cola brand’s database and the associated retailer knows where they are and even what they are doing (e.g. with mates playing football on a Saturday afternoon), then it could send an advert about the local store offering cans of cola at discount.

Alternatively, the drinks brand itself could send a location-based ad to people in an area if they know that one of the restaurants it supplies needs customers. For example, a short-term driver could be used on people within a mile of that restaurant (such as free drinks with every meal over £10). Although it’s not just about discounts: information on new flavours or new shops opening in the area can also be useful.

For the examples above, advertisers will need to ensure they have databases that store the mobile data and have opt-in marketing. Then information (whether offers, new menus or just interesting updates) can be sent to the relevant people in the right place at the appropriate time of day. Consumers love targeted and appropriate messaging as long as it’s managed correctly.  If it’s just blanket messages every time you pass a store that soon becomes annoying – like spam emails.

To make a success of location-based ads you need people to opt in and you need data and effective analytics (what is the offer, who will that appeal to in the database, when should it be sent etc.). Like any digital advertising, there’s a wealth of data – and thus value – available, provided you know where to look.

Clive Baker is managing partner at mobile marketing agencyMovement.