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Location-Based Advertising – Marketing's Best Kept Secret

  |  December 30, 2010   |  Comments   |  

With Facebook Places rolling out in Japan, U.S., and U.K., it's time to explore location-based advertising opportunities in Asia.

Location-based advertising doesn't get its fair amount of buzz in the marketing industry.

In the next five minutes, I will be asking you to think differently about the opportunity for location-based advertising especially in Asia. It's truly amazing and really quite simple to get on board.

First, what is location-based advertising?

I hate to break it to all the 'mayors' out there, but Foursquare is not the only answer here. In fact, location-based social games represent only a small portion of the opportunity around location-based advertising.

The most basic definition of location-based advertising can be defined as a well-placed billboard telling you how to get to a store. The more evolved definition of location-based implies the use of digital technologies to deliver 'marketer controlled information specifically tailored to the place where users access an advertising media'.

With that definition in mind, you should ask yourself two questions to determine whether or not location-based advertising is right for you:

  1. Do you want to deliver advertising in a location where you can't normally buy media placements?
  2. Do you want to make your existing location-targeted advertising (e.g. billboards/posters) highly engaging and measurable?
If you can engage a user in your location-based advertising, you've earned yourself a special relationship. These users are typically highly engaged, self-targeted, and seeking utility. If you can meet their needs, your brand becomes the hero in their lives.

Reading between the lines, location-based advertising is a major shortcut in marketing! Think about your customer journey from awareness through to purchase. Where do you struggle the most in moving customers across stages? Do you have trouble with attracting footfall in your stores? Do you have trouble gaining loyalty from your customers? At the click of a button, the location-based experience you deliver can move a user rapidly through a traditional customer journey.

Let's look at some global examples that have relevance within my home market, Hong Kong:

McDonald's Catch-a-Pie

This was a campaign done by McDonald's in London where users were invited to participate in a game within an outdoor billboard. If the user was able to snap a photo of an apple pie, coffee, or ice cream, they could redeem their photo for a free item at the nearby McDonald's 150 meters away. A perfect example of getting more engagement out of existing out-of-home media without utilising any location-based technology.

ATM Finder on Layar

Layar is an augmented reality browser available for iPhone and Android handsets. One application allows you to find any ATM machine within your vicinity and the navigation directions on how to get there. While this can apply to every personal banking service in Hong Kong, this could easily apply to any chain store as well.

IKEA Interactive Catalogue

IKEA recently made an application on the iPhone that enables users to take the interactive catalogue and drag and drop furniture items they like into a photo taken of the room around them. For those of you that live in Hong Kong and understand the madness of walking through an IKEA showroom, you can see how this application can really save you some time and stress! (available in Spain only)


Throughout Asia, foot traffic to brick-and-mortar retail locations is such a critical element to business, yet surprisingly few brands are capturing the opportunity in location-based offerings.

Remember these three things as you plan your location-based marketing strategy:

1. Create your own opportunity. You are not defined by pre-made platforms. The technologies that can enhance your location-based experiences are prevalent across the market. GPS, phone cameras, and mobile Internet are the building blocks of your experience.

2. Don't forget to leverage your existing touch points as potential launching pads for location-based experiences. A lot of location strategy goes into your existing media plans and stores. Don't waste that intelligence.

3. Think about the value you want to deliver to your customers before you get caught up trying to reach the masses. High engagement has more weight than mass reach. Make your brand the hero to those that matter.

This column was originally published on Sept. 22, 2010 on ClickZ.Asia.

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Brandon Cheung

As regional digital strategy director at Tribal DDB Asia Pacific, Brandon is an integral part of the development and execution of Radar, Tribal DDB's regional social media offering. He also provides digital leadership for the agency's clients. Brandon was previously (group) strategic planning director at Isobar and Carat Hong Kong, where he led digital and social media development for a range of clients, such as Chivas Regal, Swire Properties, Tiffany & Co., Nokia, and Adidas. He also developed Astro, a proprietary social media customer relationship management (CRM) system. Brandon has eight years of experience in digital marketing strategy, having worked in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong. He loves the Internet and thinks we don't say it enough. Show him some love on Twitter: @brcheung.

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