Today’s consumers are roamers – they’re constantly on the move jumping in and out of different channels, devices, and stores. With their attention so fragmented, marketers are facing big challenges in building their brands. They need to deliver a consistent brand experience no matter where consumers go – both online and off-. The challenge is – how do marketers engage with consumers at specific times, in specific locations, with specific devices? The more information that is known about a consumer, the better marketers can understand and engage them. Ideally, marketers want a 360-degree view of their customers, to optimize their campaigns with real-time insights, and to deliver a consistent and quality experience that drives more effective conversions.
As the use of mobile devices becomes more and more ubiquitous, retailers, in order to keep up with the fierce competition in the market, are quickly realizing the need to embrace mobile advertising as a way to drive traffic to their retail stores. Instead of engaging in global campaigns to reach the masses, many retailers are designing geo-targeted campaigns that reflect the way consumers want to combine in-store shopping with product research on their mobile devices. Geo-targeting is the method of determining the location of a site visitor and delivering customized advertising content to that visitor based on location, such as country, region/state, city, Zip code, IP address, or ISP. Location intelligence has proven to increase consumer engagement and increase in-store conversion rates. I recently spoke to the CEO of Retailigence, Jeremy Geiger, who pioneered a data platform that optimally converts online consumers into offline buyers, about the trend of leveraging location information and what it means for the future of advertising.
Julie Ginches: Mobile advertising continues to grow at a rapid pace, but some retailers are still hesitant to shift spend from other channels into mobile. From your experience, what are the pros and cons of mobile advertising? What has been successful and what challenges still remain?
Jeremy Geiger: Can you remember the last time you left your home without your phone? We seldom if ever leave home without our phones, and as a result, these phones have become very personal. It goes everywhere with us and captures our habits in terms of whether we like to play games, read news, or shop for specific categories of products. Because of the personal nature of mobile phones, there are many different ways that advertisers can target consumers. The one big advantage that mobile has over desktop is that we have a more precise location for the consumer and the consumer is more likely to be “out and about” and in shopping mode. So this gives us the option to further optimize, based on the matching of consumers, with nearby brick-and-mortar stores, to further increase the relevance of mobile advertising. Consumer adoption of mobile is growing exponentially and competitors are exploiting this trend to capture customers. During the 2012 holiday season, 76 percent of consumers researched online prior to purchasing, and of the shoppers who reported using their smartphone during the shopping process, 46 percent researched on their smartphone, then went to a store to purchase (Google/ISOS 2012). According to Forrester Research, by 2016, it is estimated that close to 40 percent of the $3.5 trillion in local offline retail sales will be influenced by what consumers find online, and increasingly it will be their phone that nudges them to make a purchase.
Many national retailers and brands are using mobile-to-store ad solutions that employ what we call hyper-geo-targeting, to reach consumers who are near a store location. Together with a digital marketing management platform, which provides access to billions of location-based mobile impressions per month on the RTB ad exchanges, hyper-geo-targeted campaigns can be easily developed without PII/privacy issues. So the biggest challenge is simply to find enough mobile impressions that are tagged with accurate locations. Fortunately, every month more of this inventory comes online.
Ginches: What are some of the key findings from your measuring and analysis of conversions that can help retailers achieve their desired brand or performance outcomes?
Geiger: We find that hyper-geo-targeting mobile ads that dynamically add store location and local product availability into the ad copy can significantly improve the CTR of a mobile display ad by up to two times. This helps retailers and brands build awareness with their campaigns, while also guiding consumers into the closest store where the product is actually available. This high-value call to action is very important for a product brand or retailer that sells locally in brick-and-mortar stores. It guides a consumer from curiosity and interest along the path to purchase at the ideal time – when the consumer is both psychologically and physically close to buying. Traditionally it has not been easy to measure conversion in terms of foot-traffic and sales, but Retailigence is now able to measure such activities at hundreds of thousands of stores in the U.S. The result is revenue and foot-traffic that is directly attributable to campaigns and locations.
Ginches: Every new medium seems to have roots in direct response and then as it matures, the brand marketers move in. Do you think this is the year you’ll start to see the big brand dollars move into mobile?
Geiger: Based on Mary Meeker’s recent analysis, 10 percent of consumers’ time was spent on mobile, but mobile only received 1 percent of spend, compared to the 22 percent of online ad spend with 26 percent of time spent on the Internet. Because of supply and demand, this makes mobile advertising very cost effective, as brands slowly react to this massive shift in consumer behavior to mobile. When a brand communicates with consumers on this very personal device, it can leverage information such as location, time of day, and other factors to create a much more personal brand message. Additionally, hyper-geo-targeting with dynamic content allows a shopper to be directed exactly to where a brand’s products are, which in the past was not possible for product brands that did not have their own stores. Given mobile’s unique ability to both build that personal connection on a branding level and direct a consumer to the point of purchase to increase sales, I’m very confident that brand marketers will continue to allocate more from their pocketbooks.
Ginches: Knowing that the future of digital marketing is being able to optimize campaigns across all channels, what is your long-term strategy?
Geiger: Having real-time access to store-level product/brand inventory uniquely positions Retailigence to successfully bring consumers to nearby brick-and-mortar stores, regardless of media channel. Our technology works across multiple digital platforms, and while our current focus is mobile, we are aggressively partnering with different partners, so that we can guide shoppers along the local path-to-purchase, regardless of what media channels they use. With the help of a digital marketing management platform that understands user behaviors across devices such as desktop, tablet, and phone, as well as based on activities consumers are engaged with (social, news, entertainment, etc.) and locations to determine the best dynamic creative to motivate the consumer to high-value action.