Contextual Targeting for the Real World

Contextual Targeting for the Real World

Written by Corey Buller, Garry Herbert and Molly Levine

In late March, the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) brought together some of the most innovative and forward thinking minds in the mobile industry to discuss the opportunities, pitfalls, successes, and failures in today’s mobile advertising ecosystem for the Mobile Location Leadership Forum, held in New York City. Marketers from Macy’s, PepsiCo, Brown-Forman, Google, and many others shared insights into measurement methods, strategies & tactics and campaign performance to educate the wider community on what it takes to be successful in mobile. The top 3 takeaways were:

  1. Mobile bridges the physical world and the digital world
  2. Mobile provides context to an average consumer’s daily life
  3. Mobile drives results

Mobile bridges the physical and digital worlds by collecting location data from a user’s device to build a profile based on where the user is currently located and where they have been. This provides clues, or a context, as to why and when a purchase was made. Marketers can then tailor ad messaging to the consumers’ state of mind rather than simply to their demographic, their general offline purchasing habits, or their online browsing behavior. So what does this mean for brands?

Several of the presentations revolved around mobile and its use for local advertising. Because of the location information passed onto brands, messaging can be tailored to the local offers by stores in a geographic area, increasing the relevancy of the advertising to the consumer. “Mobile and local is more of a dialogue with consumers rather than pushing messages to consumers,” said John Costello of Dunkin’ Brands.  By serving hyper-relevant messaging at the right time, brands are able to solve for a specific, in-the-moment need of their potential customer. Today, consumers crave personalization and convenience and are willing to switch to a brand that is more suited to their needs at that moment. David Buckley of Sears Hometown & Outlet Stores said that the three of the biggest factors in any purchase decision are proximity, price, and prior experience. Combining those three attributes into a single message could be the difference between a conversion and a missed opportunity.

At this point, you’re probably saying to yourself, “This is great, but are consumers really purchasing based on mobile advertising?” The short answer: YES.

Part of the MMA’s mission is to prove mobile advertising’s value to a marketing mix. Both Greg Stuart (CEO of the MMA), and Rex Briggs of Marketing Evolution presented findings of mobile campaigns. Stuart presented the most recent results of the MMA’s Cross Marketing Effectiveness Study, SMoX, conducted by several large advertisers like Coca Cola and AT&T. Mobile outperformed other channels by 172% in terms of driving ROI. Briggs saw similar performance — mobile was able to drive an average 12% increase in local ROI. The common theme throughout all of the studies was that mobile consistently outperformed other channels within the media mix for any given campaign.

The technological capability is there; the opportunities for hyper-relevance are there; and the results are there – so how can marketers implement this today? Most brands are built for the standard purchase cycle, with clearly defined stages and outcomes. But these days, the consumer’s purchasing journeys are much less linear, with disruption to that purchase cycle at every level.  Mobile devices are becoming the first and most frequent advertising touchpoint throughout a consumer’s daily life. They use these devices to connect, research, and purchase in bite-sized chunks of time. And they demand a relevant and valuable experience from every resource they use. A brand cannot simply insert themselves into one of these touchpoints if their communication and messaging is not specifically built for mobile platforms.

But the devil is in the details – as with desktop advertising, there are concerns about inaccurate data, fraud, cross-device attribution, and consistent location-based metrics. George Ivie, President of the Media Ratings Council (MRC), outlined all current initiatives of the MRC and assured attendees that these issues were at the forefront of the MRC’s to-do list in 2016.

The running joke of the conference was that “It’s the Year of Mobile!” – a moniker that’s been used for the past four years, ever since smartphone prevalence reached a tipping point. But 2016 may be the year that brands both large and small start to take the mobile revolution seriously. Technological advancements and marketing opportunities continue to evolve at the speed of light; brands not keeping pace could find themselves scrambling to catch up in innovation and sales.

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