Mobile advertising: Are we there yet?

By Chris Lee

Mobile advertising spend in the UK has risen by 90 per cent in the last year, according to eMarketer research. While this appears impressive, it is also important that marketers do not get too carried away before they understand exactly what this new channel can offer. This is the view of David Nelson, European product director at media buying platform, Rocket Fuel.

NMK spoke to Rocket Fuel in the spring about programmatic buying in digital advertising, but wanted to learn more about the use of sophisticated location-based data in mobile advertising.

Location, location, location

The rising popularity of smartphones as an advertising channel is down to their ubiquity, but also the clever ways in which data – particularly location data – can be used to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of targeted campaigns, according to Nelson. However, he argues that many marketers are yet to realise the full potential of this information.

“‘We can location target you when you are outside a coffee shop with great coffee offers!’ – I’ve heard this and similar arguments for location-based targeting on mobile devices so many times in the last few years,” he told NMK. “It really is time we started to focus on more interesting deployments for a technical ability that is uniquely powerful and should be driving mobile advertising forward. Not only does the above proposal for the use of location data fall short of its capabilities, I really don’t think it would work in any practical way for mobile display advertising. I certainly don’t recall being compelled to buy a coffee in this way.”

Nelson believes there is a popular perception that mobile is starved of data and tracking facilities, which in his opinion is simply not true. In fact, mobile offers us these tools to understand user behaviour, based on frequented locations, and that distinguishes it as an outstanding channel for advertisers, he argues.

The next stage in mobile advertising

Marketers need to think beyond the traditional use of location data for immediate influence, according to Nelson.

“The real opportunity is in what brands and marketers can learn about consumers by observing the trends and patterns in their geo-location data over time,” he said. “Big data platforms can draw conclusions from this location-based behaviour and are enabling marketers to make quick and effective decisions in real-time. These conclusions can be used to build anonymous profiles to drive better campaign performance and more relevant advertising throughout the mobile channel.”

Nelson said that there is a clear opportunity to tie consumers’ location history to additional digital footprint elements to bring real world activity and digital knowledge together in a powerful partnership. For example, people who frequent DIY stores are prime candidates for messages regarding associated products.

“In many ways, this is the total opposite of the common view that mobile location data should be used to target consumers in a specific location, also known as ring fencing,” he added. “Alternatively, imagine a business traveller hurrying through airports to and from meetings abroad. They are very unlikely to respond to advertising while negotiating check-in and security, but an analysis of their travel patterns allows brands to find the perfect future context in which to target them, e.g. when they are planning their next trip abroad over the weekend at home.”

Nelson concluded that in the case of location-based targeting, perhaps it is not a question of where we are, but where we have been and where we might be going.

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