Commentary

The Power Of Location Is In Sharpening The Marketing Mix

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half." – John Wanamaker, founder, Wanamaker’s

The 2014 CMO Digital Benchmark Study from Leapfrog Online says CMOs’ lack of experience with emerging mobile technology is keeping their organizations a step behind the modern consumer. While that may be true in some cases, it's not the intricacies of mobile technology that matter most. CMOs are in a position to know and do more in mobile than they may think. Why? Because the real power of mobile is revealing what to do to sharpen the entire marketing mix and get the right 50% working for them. 

This comes from mining location for a deeper understanding of consumers and the dynamics of advertising. Since many marketers haven’t yet established the systems for getting the real value out of the medium, they tend to overlook location as an organizing principle.

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This is where CMOs can set up for advantage. With a simple shift in perspective and using readily available mobile data, they can increase intelligence on what's working, improve performance based on insights (re: when and how to reach people), and stretch resources further.

1. Think consumer intelligence first. Mobile is most powerful as an insight funnel, so CMOs need to resist the urge to get carried away with micro-targeting. If you try to pinpoint customers too finely, you often end up with a subset that literally fits on the head of a pin. 

By contrast, if you look to the context of location over time, you get a better sense of whom you’re actually reaching and how advertising actually works. Say you get a number of signals over time from a device matching Best Buy locations. It’s far more meaningful to know that you’ve likely got a technology buyer -- and to feed a segment understanding -- than it is to chase each with an offer.

2. Monitor effectiveness beyond the click. Marketers want to know if people who got their ads actually went to stores, yet they set their sights on click rates, which only tell the first part of the story. A few companies, most notably Placed, are working to create standardized measurements of cause and effect. These metrics will extend such measures as in-store purchasing and foot traffic that brands have used for years.

3. Don’t talk to people when they’re not listening. Brands and products have ideal buying contexts -- situation and related mindset -- that can be categorized as in home, out of home, within a particular driving distance, etc. 

The key is focusing on people in the right buying state, and matching the message to their state of being. You entice people to review a recipe when they’re at home, or to drop in at a store if they are within five minutes' driving distance. This makes mobile the screen for reaching everyone you want to, not just everyone you can.

4. Inform creative. Whether you’re running rich media, video, or click-to-call, ads work best when they speak to the viewer. That’s why location is the single most valuable input for creative in mobile. On a broad level, it’s as simple as referencing cars in San Francisco (where traffic is a preoccupation) and the beach in Santa Barbara. On a micro level, it’s noting the distance a driver is from a coffee shop and enticing them to pull over and grab a cup. 

It's critical to write this intelligence into the creative brief up front -- something often missed -- so the advertising is created with the actual audience dynamic in mind.   

Location is about the full journey, not just the last few seconds or inches. It’s integral to every step from identifying the audience to delivering the message, to measuring the results. CMOs need to set the parameters for mobile well above the transaction level, so activity matches the KPIs of the business, not just the media plan. 

To support, they need dashboards that show the full chain of activity, including attribution metrics such as the correlation between mobile impressions and foot traffic, and the propensity to screen jump (see an ad on a mobile phone and then order the product on a PC). The more they attempt, the more they will lean on the true richness of location. 

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