Location-based targeting and geofencing is especially effective for low-touch, impulse buying decisions where getting promotions and messaging as close to the point of sale matters most. When my wife and I are trying to decide at the mall between Ruby Tuesday's or the local pizza joint, a coupon or special in my shopping app could be just enough to tip the decision needle. But most purchase decisions are longer-term and occur over complex and very human cycles of information gathering, inspiration, consideration and conclusion.
“You don’t wake up in the morning and say you are going to go buy a Vespa,” says Melissa MacCaull, VP of marketing at Piaggio Group America, which is the North American importer of the Vespa and Moto Guzzi scooter and motorcycle brands. In fact, the consideration-to-buy cycle is about two to three months long, and these brands have a very niche audience of urban adventurers who tend toward Italian style, have a “global mindset” and can fall into a wide age demo of 24 to 60.
The fact that not everyone is a prime candidate for one of these bikes makes MacCaull “laser focused on execution” and very selective in her media spend.
She is trying retail retargeting via mobile. Using a platform from Sense Networks, the brand was able to locate people who had been in or near Vespa/Moto Guzzi dealerships recently to retarget those users with mobile ads that lured them back for a second look. “This was not even an exercise in branding, but an exercise in sales,” says MacCaull. The creative involved a $250 free gas card with purchase of a Vespa and for Moto Guzzi a free test ride and financing offer.
MacCaull measured response when people clicked on the ad and entered the landing page that prompted them to get directions to the nearest dealer. She was then able to see tangible results in driving foot traffic, because 9% of the people who clicked on the landing page directions prompt eventually went to the dealership. The click-through rates for the targeted segments hot .75% compared to untargeted rates of .16%. The interstitial ads in the campaign hit 2.33% click-throughs.
The campaign had the highest click-through rates of any other aspect of the program, including search and online display. MacCaull says she plans to expand the program beyond the large test market and refine the calls to action with more A/B testing. The importance of a strong mobile component to Vespa/MotoGuzzi marketing is obvious in the brand's own site metrics, where 38% of all traffic is now from devices.
Sense Networks CEO David Petersen tells me that using geolocation for retargeting is not about nudging that impulse shopper at POS. “At least 70% of what we buy is planned in nature,” he argues. Building 160 million profiles based on where people have been and the stores they visit allows for inferring intent as well as where the users is most likely to spend money. The company sifts through the location data attached to tens of billions of in-app ad impressions. “A lot of it is not good,” he admits, echoing a common complaint about the quality and reliability of what passes for location data in mobile ad exchanges. “We discard 70% of the information” and use server side routines to assess data quality.
For the Vespa/Moto Guzzi campaign they served over 8 million impressions within the test region. In order to achieve some scale they not only targeted people known to have walked into a dealership, but also motorcycle enthusiasts who had visited other brand dealers.
Petersen says that having the capability to retarget people visiting physical locations and then being able to track back and see how it impacted their return visit behavior gives retailers a layer of digital data they haven't had before. “For the first time you think about how brick-and-mortar has been left out of digital marketing,” he says. “Now we can learn about people's real life shopping habits.”
Getting digital off the desktop has a number of important implications for user tracking and targeting. As companies like Sense and a host of other location analytics firms are showing, we now can determine how people are moving from place to place, how they actually experience shopping. In many ways mobile technology is layering onto the physical world the kind of click data and mapping online sties have see for year. Every move you make in the physical world becomes a kind of real world click. For better or for worse, you are the new tracking cookie.