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What everyone gets wrong in local marketing

Local marketing has been touted as one of the most significant growth areas for digital marketing for the past few years. During that time, most ad servers and media strategies have only attempted targeting a consumer based on physical location, usually through latitude and longitude coordinates.

Currently the accuracy of this system varies mainly by the device you are using. If you are using a laptop at home, the ad server may sniff the IP to figure out your location. It is easy to figure out what country, state and county you are in but getting down to the street level or house level, accuracy drops quite a bit. Therefore most companies have attempted to verify the IP data against other signals like WiFi.

Overall, we made some strong advancements but at the same time most media folks became trained to think of location as a single dimension.   Location, especially within mobile marketing, has several dimensions that can affect the outcome of your campaign. Here are a few elements one should consider when building a local mobile ad campaign:

  • Will the weather affect my campaign?  If so, can I target by weather? Temperatures above 100 or below freezing will drastically change the performance of your campaign.
  • What day of the week is it? If I build an auto campaign in NJ and it shows on Sundays, this may have a much lower response rate since most dealerships are closed on Sundays in NJ.  This may also come into play when targeting areas with high concentrations of religious folks who may attend church on Sundays.
  • Is this an offer for one person or a group? If people are with a group of friends or family, they will react differently to offers that do not include the people immediately around them.
  • Travel time – in most cases asking a person to one to five miles to redeem an offer is not out of the question. However, if you are in LA during rush hour, going one mile may take an hour. A way to combat this is to either target at specific times of day or make the radius of your campaign smaller.
  • Time of month – If you are targeting people during the whole month, you may see better results during pay cycles. Creating creative or day parting strategies around pay cycles may drastically improve performance.
  • Transitional times – If you launch your ads at 10 am Eastern, most likely a good portion of your audience will be at work and will not be able to redeem your offer until noon / lunch time. Focusing on times when people can get away from work is important or reminding them again closer to their breaks is also important. This may relate to the type of inventory you buy, day parting or time zones. EG – You may want to purchase weather inventory in the morning before work and game inventory at lunch time.
  • Don’t include useless info – If a person has lived in an area for more than a year, they most likely know their town pretty well. Including a map and directions of how to get to X place is interesting and cool but most people already know how to get there. Focus on the key message and give them a reason to act on the offer as quickly as possible.
  • Loyalty programs are crucial – The ability to know what a person likes, how often they act on it and where they act on it is a crucial boost for local marketing. Otherwise, people are going to get bombarded with messages and the overall effectiveness of them will decrease dramatically.

At the moment, going broad in mobile is still recommended but looking a few months down the road when rates go up, it will be important to know what levers you have available for optimization. Personally, I am a strong believer that weather will be one of the most powerful drivers in local marketing in the coming year. Check out’s new platform which verifies this thesis. 


Mobile Advertising 2012

Marin Software put together an awesome report about the state of mobile advertising in 2012. It can be found here.

Some of the most interesting highlights are the following:

  • Google is estimated to generate $5.8 billion dollars from Mobile advertising in 2012. This would represent almost 15% of their estimated 2012 revenues.
  • Mobile currently represents 12% of all clicks on Google.
  • Supply of ad inventory on mobile is still larger than advertising budget. This means low prices!!!
  • 25% of all paid search clicks will come from mobile in 2012
  • Every day 700k Android devices are being activated. This may expand as more Android tablets appear.
  • Tablets represent 45% of all mobile clicks.
  • Mobile clicks are 36% cheaper than desktop clicks
  • SmartPhones have the worst conversion rates of any mobile device. Partially due to most landing pages not being optimized for mobile.

As an advertiser, what does all of this mean? Should this influence your media buy in any way?

With any new trend it is easy to get caught up in the excitement and want to jump on it.

The best way to approach this is the following:

  • Take a look at your Google Analytics to see how many people are coming to your site via mobile devices. If it is very low that might be an opportunity for you to expand it or just ignore it for now.
  • Take a look at some mobile use cases. In a recent report by Yellow Pages you can see what people most often look for on their phones. I don’t think this info is valid for Tablet users though. Does your company fall into these use cases? If not, you can probably wait on mobile. But double check this by asking your customers in real life!
  • Pull up your webpage on a mobile phone or tablet. How does it look? Would you sign up? If not, get a mobile redesign! Also check out concepts around Responsive Design.
  • Set up a test campaign to see if you get any clicks from a mobile campaign. In Google Adwords you can set up a campaign to mobile devices only. If you see a significant number of clicks within a few days you know there is an audience. Build them a flow!
  • Get an 800 number. Most mobile campaigns that do well need an 800 number. Use services like to track your calls. Make sure this 800 number is different from a number you might use on TV or Radio. This helps with tracking.
  • Set a goal for your mobile campaign. It can be cost savings on your overall paid search buy or it can be something as simple as generate 100 calls. Without that target or goal you are never going to know if this makes sense for you.
  • Lastly – do research to see if your competitors are on mobile already. If they are, see how you can make their landing pages or call experiences better. Don’t re-invent the wheel, just make it go faster!


mobile_search_us2012_marin PDF DOWNLOAD

How Mobile Growth will Fuel Advertising for Years

The Business Insider put together a great presentation about where we were in terms of mobile growth world wide and smart phone penetration globally.

It had some amazing insights which are summarized here, but I also wanted to provide a perspective on how this may affect online advertising.

  • Currently 835 million smartphone users vs 5.6 billion feature phone users. (Keep in mind the number of phones is almost the same as the number of people in the world!)
  • Smartphone sales exceeded PC sales.
  • About 46% of US mobile users have a smart phone now.  So we are only half way through the transition to everyone having a smart phone.
  • SmartPhone Penetration is highest amongst the 18-34 group with income above 75k.  Soon the trend will be everyone.
  • Android and iOS are dominant. But developers prefer iOS due to Androids handset fragmentation
  • Mobile ad revenue is estimated at $800 million currently. Google is dominant taking 64% of the market share.
  • Only 1% of ad spending goes to mobile currently, however the consumer spends 23% of their available time on a mobile device.
  • Apps can generate a ton of revenue on mobile platforms and spread very quickly. However, overall share of mind is limited. Each new app may take user time away from another app.

What does all of this mean for the future of online advertising?

There are a few things not mentioned in the presentation which may help us understand how this will affect online advertising.
When people are online at their computers, or watching TV, they always have their mobile device with them.
Most advertisers already realize this and have started to launch integrated ad campaigns which ask you to complete an action on your mobile phone while watching a show. Twitter and TV integration is quite widespread now, you will notice most shows now have hashtags on the screen during the show.
The possibilities of how these two industries will be integrated is quite limitless. For general marketing purposes I think you will start to see overall ad budgets increase overall. The whole advertising ecosystem must be looked at in a holistic manner.  Often times TV ads actually boost the performance of online ads since they ad validity to the company advertising. EG – If they can afford to buy a TV ad they must be a real company and somewhat trustworthy.
On slide 27 of the Future of Mobile deck, you can see that TV still gets the lion share of ad dollars. I don’t see this changing in the near future. Especially as TVs become more connected. Once Apple or Android release a TV/Computer hybrid you will see a massive change in your TV experience. Imagine having a prime time show up and a browser window up on the same screen, and a mobile device on hand.  Also, it is highly likely that your phone becomes your remote. Not only is it in the room, it will actually be integral to your viewing experience.
Consumers will have incredibly short attention spans since they are trying to pay attention to multiple devices at the same time.
What we have established here is that the new electronic mediums play nice with technologies like TV and Radio.

Does Print Media have a future?

In my opinion, no. Print and digital devices are redundant. Even as much as I like holding a physical book or newspaper, the ability to deliver content faster and cheaper online will win.
Print excluding things like billboards (there is no replacement for those yet) takes a huge amount of ad spend but yields low results. The postal system is a key indicator of this industry collapsing. People are able to get their NY Times on the iPad now. Why kill a tree for something you are going to read for 5 mins?

Will the desktop still matter?

In the short term (2-5 years) people will still use desktops since they are important in work environments and portable devices are simply not big enough or strong enough for an 8 hour day.
Web based ads served to desktops and laptops will be important but the level of targeting will be antiquated compared to things we will be doing in mobile. For decades people have been able to pick demographics to target, but micro-targeting based on demographic, time, location, who you are with, personal influence, etc… will increase click through rates and overall engagement.
Ad networks will take that and charge premium rates due to the high level of engagement. Expect mobile ad rates to go up but not skyrocket. There is a ton of inventory out there. If supply was limited it would make the rates skyrocket, but inventory is outpacing advertiser interest at the moment.

As a media planner where should I start buying?

If you are an online media planner, it is important to learn how to buy on TV. I can’t stress this enough. The online world and TV will merge. Not knowing how to buy on both platforms will hurt your career and your clients.

Secondly, start setting up test buys on mobile. Inventory is cheap now, you can afford to make mistakes. Focus on what happens from an operations perspective to make sure the customer’s experience is a high quality, and quick experience with your company. Focusing on your short term eCPM or eCPA will not give you the learnings you should be focusing on.

The key to a long term strategy is really designing a pleasurable customer experience on a small screen or via voice.  That is what makes people buy, come back, and tell their friends.  Creating an experience that mimics your web checkout or form flow will kill your campaign. No one wants to fill out 15-20 fields of info on a tiny screen. Time is crucial. Most people will have various push notifications, text messages, new emails and other distractions coming through during your checkout process. Making sure your flow is quick is not just important it is the cornerstone of your mobile strategy.

Sometimes as a media planner, it is important to know where not to buy. It is time to move away from print. Go up to any hipster and ask them the last time they bought a magazine or a newspaper. Most likely they will spend their $3 on a fair trade cup of coffee instead of a magazine they can get online for free.   Print media has no reliable metrics. With so many tools available these days, why invest in something that can’t tell you if it was the right choice or not?

Mobile is just getting started. Start now, learn while it is cheap. It is our inevitable future.