1. Data & Insights

Why Location-Based Advertising Often Misses the Mark

Marketers depend on location-based advertising to deliver tailored recommendations directly to mobile devices. Provided that its data is accurate, geospatial marketing improves campaign accuracy and return on investment, elevates the consumer experience, and offers brands a means of measuring success.

By unlocking these benefits, agencies from every sector are offering brick-and-mortar customers opportunities to compete in a marketplace increasingly dominated by e-commerce. Companies are committing serious spend to mobile advertising — by some estimates, the 2022 figure will top $137 billion in the U.S. alone.

But there’s a problem: mobile marketing frequently misses the mark by delivering poorly timed creative to the right prospects or timely creative to the wrong prospects. More often than not, these inefficiencies are caused by faulty geospatial data, resulting in wasted spend, low ROI, and missed chances to capture market share.

To stay competitive, marketers and their clients need to get smart about geospatial data and its ability to either boost or undercut advertising efforts. Let’s dig into how this data can act as a boon for campaigns, where location-driven marketing can go wrong, and how to avoid these pitfalls.

How Location Data Can Buttress Marketing Campaigns

With location data, marketers and their clients gain access to competitive intelligence about consumer behavior and market trends. Different kinds of data provide different insights. Mobility data, for instance, might tell the story of where people are shopping, where they’re traveling from, and how long they stay in a particular store. Point of interest (POI) data might paint a bigger picture about how complementary sites (such as a sportswear store located near a gym) drive foot traffic and sales.

These insights allow marketers to capitalize on tactics such as mobile and geotargeting, geofencing and geo-conquesting, or beacon and proximity marketing.

Let’s say that our sportswear brick-and-mortar chain wants to use geofencing to target gym goers. POI data helps the company understand where gyms are in relation to its store locations. After sourcing base POI data, building footprints are physically charted. This creates a data polygon around the gym that acts as a boundary for serving tailored ads, directly driving relevant impressions.

By getting geometry and mobile attribution data right, marketers and their clients can fuel digital advertising, increase sales, and improve measurement. With a location-smart promotional strategy, for example, that mom-and-pop sportswear store might convince an audience to shop locally rather than ordering through a big brand’s webstore. 

Where Geospatial Advertising Goes Wrong

While some geospatial ad rollouts are rewarding, others can be disastrous — and costly. By some estimates, roughly 65 percent of spending on location-based advertising is wasted because of mistargeting. Marketers need to understand how poor targeting happens to prevent it. 

For a successful mobile campaign, the location data being used needs to be ironclad. This can be difficult to ensure, particularly given that geospatial inaccuracies are often so granular. For example, perhaps an ad goes to the “right” gym but to a location in the wrong city. Or, imagine, a different ad might get delivered to the right gym, but the relevant polygon boundary is off by 10 feet. At this point, targeted members may have already stored their devices in their lockers.

These types of issues tend to be rooted in messy, incomplete datasets. At times, latitude and longitude coordinates might be truncated or reversed, which could lead ads to get served in the middle of the ocean instead of in a bustling metropolitan hub. Other times, POI data might simply be inaccurate, outdated or missing critical elements such as operating hours. This could lead marketers to make the wrong decisions about a campaign that might not be noticeable until it’s too late. And that’s not all: using inaccurate data doesn’t just cost money upfront — it can also make ad agencies and their clients susceptible to fraud.

How to Overcome Data Traps and Craft Winning Geospatial Campaigns

To stave off location data quality issues, marketers should vet whatever location data they use as well as the accuracy of their delivery metrics. This can be done in-house or in collaboration with a third-party provider, which has likely verified the accuracy of its data. Whatever the route, it’s crucial that agencies be able to prove how and to what effect they’re putting their geospatial datasets to use.

Finally, remember that location data is only part of the equation for an effective ad campaign. Other accurate datasets can also be operationalized, including weather, time, purchase intent and CRM data. By acting on the hybrid insights that these additional tools unlock, marketers can help their clients win by finding and reaching the perfect audience.

Geoff Michener is the CEO and co-founder of dataPlor, a company that delivers the most accurate global point of interest (POI) data.

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