The Top 3 Mistakes Marketers Make When Going Mobile

Why is Verizon buying AOL? Ad tech. The pending deal underscores that advertising technology is accelerating, and mobile is a big part of the rush. Annual global ad spend on mobile devices is expected to reach $105 billion by 2019, according to Juniper Research.

With brands looking to reach consumers where they live—increasingly on their phones—marketers need to become more sophisticated about their approach.

Even though a majority of Americans have smartphones, marketers still struggle to effectively reach them and build viable audiences there. They still don’t understand how mobile audiences are unique from others and what the most effective tactics are to reach them.

Here are the three biggest misconceptions when it comes to understanding mobile consumers on the go, along with solutions that will help brands save time, money and hassle:

1. An app is not an audience

Conventional wisdom may say that “Clash of Clans” is the way to reach males 18-25. But targeting the users of an app is actually a comparatively unsophisticated way of finding your audience.

Words with Friends reaches teen skaters in Portland--and grandmothers in Florida. Category specific apps may provide a good first step toward refining your audience, but it is a mistake to settle there.

How can brands go past this initial category gateway and avoid settling for less--or more, as the case may be? Be app agnostic and look to data about the users (as opposed to a specific app) to be more effective.

The more different types of data you can gather, the better. Consider factors like real-time context, location-based user profiles, and past purchase data to better understand who you are dealing with and what they are experiencing. That way, you send the right message at the right time.

2. A place is not a person

Real-time location is no magic bullet. Just because you know where someone is in real time, you cannot assume you know everything you need to know about him or her. Marketers use geo-fencing and other methods to target mothers of young children by, for example, targeting visitors to day-care centers. But the relationship between consumers and locations is much more complex and nuanced.

To form more complete audience profiles, think about consumers’ movement patterns over time, not just where a person is located at a specific moment. Historical location patterns give much deeper insights. All people at daycare centers are not mothers. And even if they were, all mothers are not the same.

In the online world, we use cookies to target people based on the digital sites they visit over time. In the mobile world, the physical sites we visit over time become an indispensable tool for brand advertisers looking to refine their target audience.

3. Location is not a tactic, it’s a foundation

In the past, big-box retailers and quick-serve restaurants were the primary beneficiaries of location data—using mobile to drive foot traffic to stores. Proximity-based targeting can still do wonders for brick-and-mortar businesses, but location has evolved to become a foundational tool, not just for brick-and-mortars, but also for brand marketers.

Mobile is the only marketing channel that moves with the customer, creating a truly unique data set for marketers. In this new landscape, brand marketers are now using the data to better understand their customers and better message their target audience.

Historical location data can form the background of a sophisticated audience segment used to build awareness, drive consideration and improve loyalty for specific brands.

Location helps marketers understand the demographic traits of a home neighborhood, the types of places a person lives, works and plays, and the context of a mobile user’s real-time context. These foundational pieces of data can be paired with CRM data or other third-party data sets to unlock more of the benefits of the rich contextual targeting.

It is no surprise that we are seeing more marketers drawn to mobile advertising for brand-building campaigns.

The mobile marketing space has evolved rapidly, and it will continue to evolve. The good news for marketers is that data quality is improving, technologies are becoming more compatible, and the ability to create and reach new audience segments is now available. But only to those marketers willing to turn their misconceptions into opportunities.

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