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What marketers should know about using location for audience targeting

This week, tens of thousands of technophiles are at Mobile World Congress to hearing about the advancements in mobile. This event has become one of the must-attend tradeshows in advertising, and it’s not just because people get to visit Barcelona in March. The reason is that the mobile ecosystem permeates the advertising industry.

People now rely on their phones for everything, yet ad spend still lags behind. What will finally tip the scales to mobile advertising is marketers’ realization of the power of place. In 2014, marketers have seen the power of location for targeting in the moment to drive store traffic, charitable donations and job fulfillment, and so much more.

In the US, analysts from BIA/Kelsey predict location targeted mobile ad revenues will achieve a compound annual growth rate of 35 per cent, and estimate growth from $4.3bn in 2014 to $19.3bn in 2018 in the US alone.

In addition to what BIA/Kelsey is predicting, at xAd, we have seen tremendous growth in our business and platform in 2014 and now. Here are the three main reasons why location matters to marketers:

· Location has scale. To reach the right consumer in the context of where they are and where they’ve been, you need incredible scale – how else would you be able to reach a millennial yoga lover while she is at a nutrition store? At xAd, we grew our platform volume by 8x, ending the year with the ability to reach 300 million unique users each month through the availability of over 300 billion mobile ad impressions. While scaling the platform, xAd added three new countries to its platform, expanding into APAC through China, and further into EMEA with Germany and France. With that scale and global reach, marketers are able to dream up and fulfill new ways to understand, reach, and influence their customers.

· Location drives insights beyond advertising. Being able to see real-world mobile usage in business locations unlocks new understanding for managing your business. xAd processed 1 trillion ad requests in 2014 – each a data point for understanding and reaching consumers. In 80 milliseconds, xAd is able to visualize an ad request into a store visit, allowing marketers to start to see and act on regional and national trends for their own business and their competitors’.

· Location drives real-world impact. Location enables marketers to convert digital clicks and impressions to physical footprints. In 2014, we worked with ASDA and Starbucks to showcase how using location drives in-store visitation lift, each reporting more than 50 per cent lift in store visits post-campaign.

Check out this website to find out the top categories and how they used location most in 2014:

So what’s next? The next evolution in advertising is the shift toward location-based audiences. Across all categories, one of the trends we have noticed over the past year is marketers’ growing interest in not only leveraging a consumer's current place to reach consumers in the moment, but also their consumers’ past visitation behavior as a more effective way to determine an audience.

Location now shows us how it’s an incredibly powerful indicator of audience and actual intent. Think about it: what’s more important - that a person searched for pumpkin spice lattes or that they actually visited a Starbucks? Or, that a person searched for a gym, but actually went to a fast food restaurant instead?

To help educate the market further, the Mobile Marketing Association’s (MMA) Location Committee, which I am honored to co-chair, created a new educational whitepaper to highlight this trend: “Using Location for Audience Targeting,” showcasing case studies from xAd’s work with Goodwill and Pinkberry, along with nearly 10 other companies.

Together, location is a tool for proximity and audience: for reaching the right audiences at the right time with the right message and for knowing your ideal customers are, connecting behaviors and influencing on and offline sales. This is an exciting time to learn how location can be a new tool in the marketer’s arsenal.

Mobile World Congress is underway and so is the expansion of location. Understanding the trends from both is now crucial to marketing success.