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Hard to locate?

Hard to locate?

Location, location, location. It’s never been easier to engage consumers with the right message at the right time, with brands tapping into the power of location-based mobile targeting.

Today, it’s not just who you are that counts to a marketer, but where you are. If the great Pokémon Go craze of the summer showed us one thing, it is that location – particularly geolocation – is firmly on the map.

In fact, two-thirds (66 per cent) of marketers believe that location-based advertising is the ‘most exciting’ mobile opportunity of 2016, according to a recent IAB UK study.

James O’Connor, senior vice-president of global sales at Medialets, explains: “Mobile advertising is still in its infancy, as we’re beginning to see the power of combining mobility, messaging and accurate measurement. Marketers can see tremendous results by tapping into the power of location and understanding an individual’s place-based behaviour.”

This presents an opportunity for advertisers to personalise their messages to people based on their current location, in real-time. And that allows ads to be more relevant and less likely to be blocked or ignored. Almost half of people (46 per cent) say they use adblockers because ads are ‘often irrelevant’, according to the IAB.

As Ryan Hall, managing director of Karmarama Group’s mobile agency Nice, says: “The real star of the show is personalisation.”

Yet how can marketers or agencies ensure they are using location-based technology to its full potential? Below are trends and examples that illustrate some of the possibilities open to marketers.

Pokémon Go

“No discussion around proximity marketing platforms is complete without a nod to Pokémon Go, which unless you’ve been living under a rock has exploded over the past few months into a truly global phenomenon,” says Alex Hewson, head of media at M&C Saatchi Mobile.

The free-to-play game launched little over two months ago with almost 45 million daily users, though will need to prove that it is more than a flash-in-a-pan with reports suggesting that around 12 million players left the game in August and time spent in the game is fading fast.

Yet marketers are looking at the platform – and others set to follow – as one way of catching business in their locale, while makers Niantic and Nintendo will see sponsorships and partnerships as an additional revenue stream to in-app purchases. In July McDonald’s Japan became the first paying sponsor of the game, by hosting 3,000 of its outlets as ‘gyms’.

Japanese mobile operator SoftBank has now also joined the legion: 3,700 SoftBank and its Y!Mobile subsidiary’s stores will be either PokéStops or gyms. “Pokémon Go collaborative campaigns and services unique to SoftBank will also be considered in the future,” the company said in a statement.

Smaller, but equally smart businesses, have also got in on the act by purchasing ‘lure’ modules order to tempt users to come catch Pokémon in their locations and, hopefully buy goods and services while there.

Hall cites the Cardwell Garden Centre in Scotland, which on realising that it attracted Pokémon to the location decided to set up a campaign to capitalise on it. He says the garden centre invited visitors to post photos on Facebook of the creatures they had discovered lurking between the seed packets and garden furniture for the chance of winning a £5 voucher to the centre’s restaurant. “Safe to say, they’ve seen an increase of grandparents bringing their grandchildren to the garden centre,” he adds.

Media owners and publishers get local

Media owners and publishers are amongst those excited by the possibilities of location and hyper-localisation.

Trinity Mirror Solutions launched hyper-local mobile ad platform Pinpoint in beta in 2014 to intelligently target smartphone users. The technology allows brands to reach customers via their device’s existing push notification facility but with richer messages targeted either to their current location or via places they have recently or frequently visit.

Location data is also a core part of Bauer Media’s in-stream audio ad offering, Instream+, which runs across brands including Absolute Radio, Kiss and Kerrang. With Instream+ brands are able to target people listening to the stations via the internet via location as well as gender and age. Users who log in to the app are delivered an even more personalised experience.

Ed Keohane, Bauer Group director of audio, says: “One of the opportunities [for brands] is around local targeting, and this is something that we feel audio in particular has a massive role to play.” One reason for that is the huge growth of people listening to audio on mobile.

He points to a recent Jaguar advertising campaign, which trialled earlier this year with 30 dealerships. Jaguar wanted to drive footfall in dealerships and to promote the test-driving of its cars. Listeners could click through on the ad and be delivered directly to the online presence of their nearest dealership.

Sam Jones, Bauer managing director of digital, added: “They found there was a direct correlation between the dealerships that advertised and the immediate uplift they had.” The campaign has now been rebooked with more than 80 dealerships on board.

Your new shopfront

Location has long been mooted as a unique and compelling opportunity within mobile, particularly to retailers with a bricks-and-mortar presence where driving footfall is essential for business success.

However, warns Hewson: “Simply displaying banners when someone is near to a location is not the full story. Just because someone is on Oxford Street and within 100 metres of your shop, it doesn’t mean they can be diverted by viewing an interstial. Messaging has to be both contextual and deliver value.”

One example of successful proximity marketing is from Unilever-owned ice cream brand Magnum. In 2014, Karmarama partnered with Magnum to develop ‘M-Pulse', an app that allows Londoners to seek out friends, find their closest Magnum retailer and invite them to meet for an ice cream, as part of Magnum's 25th-anniversary celebrations. M-Pulse was designed to enable proximity marketing, highlighting exclusive deals and offers, in a bid to drive sales and footfall. The brand partnered with Tesco in London and the south east, where outlets installed beacons in chiller cabinets throughout the region.

Hall urges marketers to experiment, learn and measure what’s going on in real time. He says: “You can understand why a brand would be nervous to make an attempt at using location-based marketing, [as] you are only ever one swipe away from being irrelevant. But if brands are to approach this kind of innovation do so with agility in mind.”

O’Connor points to a recent campaign with Medialets and agency Somo, which leveraged location data to serve offers based on local weather, which helped drive “significant success” for mobile commerce.

Linking the real world effect successfully can also be technologically challenging and limited in scale, with measurement a challenge.

O’Connor adds: “In order to measure these sophisticated mobile campaigns, advertisers must be confident that their ads rendered on devices and that they can comprehensively attribute online and offline actions correctly.”

However, the brands that are tapping into this kind of technology are gaining competitive advantage and driving customer retention – a key part of digital transformation and commercial success, according to Hall.

If mobile marketing is the future of tailored communications, then location is where it is at.