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Five Location-Based Social Ad Strategies For Brands

Yes, we know -- all consumers are, by definition, mobile consumers. Rarely does anyone spend all day in one spot. So when it comes to the magical combination of mobile technology and advertising, mobile ads hold promise. They promise to reach consumers not only at any time, but also in their most private of places -- their smartphones.

The mobile environment inherently offers innovative possibilities for building brand awareness, even if we consider location data by itself. Over 200 million social users include a location on their posts, and Foursquare users generate over five million check-ins a day.

When consumers assign a location to their public social activity, by checking in on an app or adding a location to their social media updates, they have provided you -- the marketer -- with valuable real-time insights. They are letting you know where they are, what they like, and to a certain extent, what they're doing. If you use these insights to develop and deliver ads that are relevant to their interests, you may win more first-time customers and increase repeat-visit loyalty.

Here are five tips for using locations and location-based check-ins in your social ad campaigns:

1. Pick your targeted locations wisely

If you know your target audience, you’ll know what your potential customer has an affinity for as well as the related or competitive brands they favor, so this is a great place to start… when choosing check-in locations to target, apply these insights. Which brick-and-mortar businesses are related to your brand? Which competing brands have locations that you could target? For example, ESPN could target check-ins at stadiums and team merchandise stores, and Peet's could use a conquest strategy and target people checking into any Starbucks location.

2. Use location-specific messaging to build loyalty

When customers check in at your own locations, it's a perfect opportunity to broadcast targeted messaging and offers. Encourage shoppers to come back for an upcoming sale, or let them know where they'll be able to find new items in the store. Other options for location-based programs include offering behind-the-scenes content or styling your location-targeted ads as venue tips for getting more out of the business.

3. Take advantage of check-ins at events

You can also use check-in targeting to add high-value local components to popular events like conferences and sporting events. Brands that sponsor events like Fashion Week in New York, an auto show in Detroit, and music festivals like Coachella can draw attendees to local aspects of the campaign -- including after-parties, booths with promotional materials or on-site exhibits. Juice up campaigns for distributed events, too: everyone who checks into Justin Bieber concerts nationwide can be targeted for tie-in campaigns around merchandise such as t-shirts and fragrances.

4. Plan for asymmetrical timing

Although check-ins happen in real-time, don't depend on a real-time approach for interaction with the promotion: when people post their location check-ins, they won't necessarily see an ad immediately. Someone may check in at a nightclub while standing in line for the door and upon entering the club, put their smartphone away to have a good time. An hour later, they may return to their phone to open another app and see your targeted ad. Take the possibility of delayed viewing into account when planning the campaign. Plus, because the ad media won’t necessarily be delivered within the check-in app (and for scale reasons, it shouldn’t be limited to the check-in app), the advertising creative should not depend on the user seeing your ad right after they check in. Create messaging that works within an hour or a day of the check-in.

5. Integrate with social targeting

Targeting based on location check-ins alone may not be enough to reach your ideal audience, so think about combining check-in targeting with other forms of social targeting, such as targeting based on social relationships and keywords available through public social signals. For example, a brand whose audience is moms and families might want to target people checking in at a grocery store or a major retailer, but they could layer on interest graph data such as people who follow family-related brands such as Disney to increase campaign efficacy.

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