Hyperlocal data is at a point where it’s readily available on a wide scale for marketers. With programmatic buying technology giving access to almost every mobile user, more and more advertisers are able to use hyperlocal data as a primary way to target customers. Just log in to any ad marketplace and see. Based on my observations into various ad exchanges and SSPs, about 44% of mobile inventory is location-aware. That’s 7 billion impressions per day. This is a major reason why eMarketer is proclaiming that programmatic is helping drive mobile ad spending toward a 37% growth clip in 2016.
In the cookie-less world of mobile, hyperlocal data is an effective way to overcome the challenge of relying on IP addresses for location information and context. Taking a desktop approach to segmenting mobile audiences doesn’t work because mobile-based IP addresses are notoriously inaccurate. The industry is now using GPS data to paint a better picture of a consumer’s behavior within a geographical context.
Many marketers have been using basic tactics like radius targeting -- creating a zone or “geo-fence” around a GPS coordinate (e.g., a street corner, an address, a building), and targeting all users that pass through it. This may sound crude, but zones can be as small as a few feet in radius or customized to exact shapes or blocks so that marketers can optimize which area to target. To utilize this approach, marketers need platforms that have either a mapping integration built in or allow for uploading a list of GPS coordinates to target around.
If you are putting significant budgets into mobile advertising, here are a few more ways that mobile marketers are applying hyperlocal data to target audiences in programmatic environments.
Retargeting – Retargeting on a desktop works with cookies, but cookies don’t work very well on most mobile devices. However, marketers can use a mobile device’s unique UDID (Universal Device ID) or IDFA (ID For Advertisers) or Advertising ID (for Android) to accomplish the same objective: identifying a user based on their behavior (e.g., where they spend their day-to-day, where they pass all the time) and serve them a “retargeted” ad on their phone. Using a mobile device’s unique identifier as a tracking mechanism allows marketers to behaviorally target, retarget or re-market audiences.
Contextual – On the desktop, contextual targeting refers to content on specific Web pages (keywords, language, sentiment, category, etc. appearing on the page). In mobile, contextual is defined in a few different ways. It can mean targeting with content on a Web page. But increasingly, it is referring to characteristics about the physical location of the mobile user, such as the type of location (school, shopping mall, neighborhood, building, etc.); the demographics of the area (gender, ethnicity, education, age, etc.); or specific census data (crime rate, political leanings, household incomes, etc.). Contextual location data can also be used to extract insights about audiences from broader mobile campaigns, because where a user physically spends their time indicates a lot about their interests.
Putting these into practice, a marketer can, for example, target a conference center hosting an event at a hyperlocal level. The marketer can serve mobile ads to everyone in the conference center, then capture the device IDs of everyone in that radius for subsequent retargeting. The geo-contextual and behavioral insights gleaned from that audience could help determine certain characteristics (such as neighborhoods, demographics, interests, and other data) that index high for that group, and subsequently launch another campaign that targets anyone with those characteristics.
As technology matures, the volume of information about locations will only increase, especially with more “smart” and wearable computing devices being used. Furthermore, we will see different approaches to measurement, as local conversions, visit rates and other metrics become easier to derive from the data. As companies improve how they track this data, layering it with first-party data and observing the behavior of audiences on mobile, we get an entirely new perspective -- completely different from what is revealed via desktop behavior. What’s the difference? Mobile customers are humans that drive to theaters, eat at restaurants, shop at malls and interact in the “real” world. Hyperlocal is the tactic that will empower marketers to engage people rather than IP addresses or cookies.