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How to Use Location Data for More Targeted Campaigns

Posted on 4.13.2016

:: Jeremy Anspach, PureCars ::


Thanks to mobile, consumers and brands are more connected than ever before.

In 2015, 68 percent of Americans owned smartphones, and 45 percent owned tablet computers. What’s more, shoppers are increasingly comfortable making purchases on mobile, even for major life-time products with greater financial risk. For example, about one in five consumers are likely to use a mobile or wearable device to research or buy vehicles online.

While mobile usage and commerce are on the rise, it has become more difficult for retailers to connect with shoppers online. Ad blocking technologies continue to outperform digital marketing strategies as consumers increase privacy settings due to a mistrust of branded content. With such a discerning public, serving relevant ads is no longer enough to pique consumer interest.

But retailers can still leverage mobile activity to generate ads that win. Not only do insights from digital behavior allow marketers to create ads that are relevant, but these ads are also uniquely real-world contextual and timely. Location data tied to online browsing behavior is the future of digital marketing as it allows brands to reach shoppers with ads that reflect genuine consumer needs.

Step One: Use Online Behavior to Determine Shopper Preferences

Consumers lack the patience for generic ads, no matter the industry. Inundated with a great deal of branded content every day, shoppers need to feel like ads are speaking directly to their individualized needs.

To personalize ads, brands must first learn more about customers. Brands can monitor shoppers’ online activity to see what users are researching and purchasing. For example, if a consumer is browsing brown boots on her phone, ads across all devices should reflect this behavior. Across any number of product categories and attributes -- size, color, price, etc. -- retailers can generate targeted ads based on customer browsing history.

And second, marketers must focus on where shoppers are. Even if an ad is perfectly targeted and offers the added value necessary to avoid being blocked, digital strategies are fruitless when shoppers cannot proceed to purchase. For retailers that sell across multiple sales channels or have both an online and brick-and-mortar presence, advertisements must align with inventory availabilities in real time. If, for example, a shopper is researching a new cell phone online and then goes in store to purchase only to find the product is out of stock, this severely hurts that retailer’s reputation. Shoppers need to be able to trust that what they see advertised online is truly available for purchase at stores near them.

Step Two: Use Location Data to Meet Shopper Demands

In addition to marketing strategies like retargeting and display advertising, location-based mobile behavior will help retailers achieve both their personalization and location goals. Desktop marketing efforts are limited by users’ permanent locations, and retailers can only advertise based on where a computer is. However, this is not an accurate representation of shoppers’ lives, and brands miss out on key sales opportunities when relying solely on desktop. Location-based mobile advertising is more powerful, as it allows brands to interact with shoppers from anywhere, at any time.

A wide variety of real-world scenarios exist for retailers to connect with shoppers on the go. For example, if someone has expressed need for an oil change via his search behavior, marketers can employ location data technologies to reach that consumer with an ad for a discounted oil change when he drives past a service station. Similarly, if a shopper has been researching red Nikes, a retailer can send her an ad with this style as she passes by the store.

Popular retailers like Walmart are already finding success from location-based targeting on mobile. The company recently shifted print advertising dollars to invest in its Saving Catcher app, which reaches shoppers via geo-location technologies. As app users walk by the storefront, Walmart sends them hyper-relevant mobile alerts for on-the-spot deals. Based on location, mobile owners’ real-world behaviors triggered advertisements, leading to in store visits.

With ads like these, marketers can push personalization and location in real time. As brands begin to learn more about shoppers and their daily routines and habits, it becomes easier to reach them with ads that offer real value and stand out from the high volume of marketing noise.

By applying digital behavior to real-world context, marketers can better help consumers and generate immediate ROI from their digital campaigns. Mobile usage is only going to continue to grow, and purchase on devices like smartphones and tablet will become more popular as well. Marketers need to leverage this trend, but must do so in the right way to avoid ad blocking online.


Jeremy Anspach is the co-founder and CEO of PureCars. Born and raised in Detroit, he views the auto industry as a perfect metaphor for opportunity. His entire career has been devoted to improving the way consumers and dealers interact. Guided by the relentless mission to provide more relevant information to improve the car buying experience, PureCars has successfully helped thousands of dealers across the country including some of the biggest and most progressive dealer groups.

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