Blis Forecasts Where Consumers Will Be — Then Targets Ads Based on That Prediction

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Blis Forecasts Where Consumers Will Be — Then Targets Ads Based on That Prediction

Blis, a provider of local intelligence, is unveiling a new service today that it claims can figure out where consumers will go — and then target mobile ads based on those expectations.

Blis Futures, an artificial intelligence-driven, machine learning solution, identifies patterns to determine where consumers are likely to spend time, and then focuses brands’ marketing to reach them at optimal moments. When the technology is in place, Blis says it will only charge marketers when consumers visit the chosen locations. This is an example of a growing trend in the mobile ad industry to focus on demonstrable “cost per visit” outcomes and less on impressions and click-through.

Gil Larsen, Blis’s vice president of Americas, spoke about the launch of Blis Futures and how the company is helping brands better determine when and where they should target their customers.

Why did Blis develop these new tools?

Being able to drive people to specific brick-and-mortar retail locations has been a hot button topic for several years; there are several companies that are doing it, including ourselves. We’ve run hundreds of campaigns where we can correlate device IDs that have seen our advertisements and gone to specified locations. Up until this point, we’ve done this on a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) standpoint and backed our way into the metrics of what it takes to get a certain amount of device IDs to a certain store.

What Blis Futures is — we’re basically demonstrating confidence in our technology and the strength of our predictive data analysis. We’re only going to charge advertisers if the customer visits the intended location, using a cost-per-visit metric.

As much as we’d like to think we’re all spontaneous, human behavior is about 93 percent predictable.

How do you forecast where customers might go?

We’re running hundreds of campaigns every day, across 11 offices and 52 markets that we’re in around the world. We’re constantly ingesting device IDs and building audience segments off those IDs. The way it will work is, whether it’s a retailer, a consumer packaged goods (CPG) brand, or a quick serve restaurant (QSR), we will get an understanding of who is their target consumer, what the brand is looking to do, what are the specific locations they are looking to drive to. For the first part of the campaign, we will have our technology figure out based on the key performance indicators and the specific location they want to drive customers to, what are the right device IDs to target.

The beginning of the campaign will be a lot of listening; seeing device IDs, where they go, and what locations they go to. Figuring out what is the right cost-per-visit metric. The first piece of the campaign — on a CPM basis — our machine learning technology figures out who to target, where to target them, and what the right moment to target them is based on the store locations. The second half of the campaign will be where we convert from a CPM to a cost-per-visit campaign. The advertiser will only be charged for device IDs that go to the desired locations for the better part of the campaign.

So this will be able to assess, via device IDs, patterns such as when consumers tend to frequent a particular coffee shop and where they visit afterwards? Is that the understanding that goes into predicting where they will go next?

That’s absolutely right. It’s using predictive analytics. It all depends on the KPI (key performance indicator). If a brand is just looking to get any customer, whether a new customer or a repeat customer, into a store, that example is right. If we see behavior that tends to show this consumer tends to go to coffee shops in this area, we’re pretty confident we can drive that consumer to the specified location.

One of the things we’ve been asked for — and it is a good differentiator — some brands only want to drive new customers and don’t necessarily want to pay for customers who already go to a store. We have a solution for that. Before the campaign starts, we would listen and any device IDs we see going to the location prior to the campaign starting, we would exclude. We could also, during the campaign, look back a week, and exclude device IDs from within the last seven days. It depends on what the KPI of the brand is.

There are certain stores and brands where people are going all the time. This has come up in CPG specifically. If you have someone go to a location where there’s a lot of different things sold, how do we know the ad actually drove that business?

By using device IDs, you are able to make these assessments without revealing personally identifiable information?

Correct. It’s all device ID. It’s opt-in device ID as well. Most of our inventory is in-app inventory, so you have to have your location services turned on and opt-in to share you location within the specific app. There’s no PII data is transferred.

How did Stella Artois make use of Blis Futures in the beta test?

With the Stella campaign out of Europe, they’re looking to understand their customer behavior and real world insights in addition to digital insights. This gives them an opportunity to engage with them in the right moment. They’re looking to drive incremental new customers into bars that serve the product. People who visit bars probably visit a certain set of bars, but not necessarily for Stella Artois. This is something they wanted to deploy to get better insight into their audience and the impact of the brand campaign in terms of people going to bars because they saw the Blis ad versus they were going there to begin with.

Is there a brand segment that Blis Futures especially meets the needs for?

The sweet spot for this is any brand that is brick-and-mortar-centric, where driving to retail locations is a key KPI for them. Stella Artois is a great example. Retail makes a ton of sense; CPG is a big one for us. QSR is another big one. Those are the categories where we’re seeing the most interest.

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Partner Spotlight: Q&A with RSi’s Ansa


Partner Spotlight: Q&A with RSi’s Ansa

Question 1: How long have you been at RSi and what is your role?
For the past three years, I have been responsible for creating and scaling Ansa, a web-based solution from RSi – Retail Solutions, Inc., that has enabled over 75 of the world’s largest CPG companies and their agencies to build, measure and maximize the performance of their shopper marketing campaigns running in support of the nation’s leading retailers. I am responsible for all aspects of business development, partner and agency relationships and the overall revenue growth of Ansa.

Question 2: How does RSi help solve marketer challenges?
Shopper marketers’ biggest challenge is to connect their online campaigns to in-store results. RSi’s Ansa solution provides the intelligence they need, based on daily, store-level POS-data from the largest US retailers in order to plan, target, and measure the impact of their shopper marketing campaigns. Retail Solutions Inc. has partnered with the leading ad networks in Shopper Marketing, such as Blis, to make Ansa’s automated analytics available for the world’s largest CPG companies and their agencies. To measure and maximize their digital ad campaigns, all they need to do is ask for Ansa inside their next campaign.

Question 3: What benefits does the partnership with Blis bring to buyers as well as the adtech ecosystem?
With RSi’s Ansa solution, building, dynamically optimizing, and reviewing attribution measures for every digital ad campaign has never been so simple. Here is how it works:
1. STORE-LEVEL TARGETING: automatically get from Ansa your store targeting data as store addresses, lat/longs or by Ansa Digital ZIPs to identify stores with the greatest sales potential prior to launching hyper-local media.
2. IN-FLIGHT OPTIMIZATION: see in real-time how sales are trending in your targeted stores vs. a 52-week historical average, and get access to dynamic optimization lists that can guide budget reallocation.
3. MEASUREMENT & INSIGHTS: get access via the online portal to end of campaign analysis just days after the media campaign is over. Visualizations give you a standardized set of analytics, such as sales lift, incremental dollars and units, confidence level, weekly lift, characteristics of high performing stores, etc. Prove and improve your media to help you fine-tune strategies for your future campaigns.

Question 4: What are use cases for the Blis + RSi partnership? (Please provide a few examples from different verticals).
If you are a shopper marketer, maximizing your budgets, understanding performance of your marketing tactics and generating key learnings from those marketing tactics are tasks that are essential to your business.

Running a digital marketing campaign with Blis, and Ansa’s daily, store-level sales intelligence helps make that extremely for the CPG community and shopper marketers specifically.

For existing products, Blis campaigns using Ansa targeting can reach a targeting efficiency of 2:1 vs. campaigns that do not use Ansa store-level targeting thereby ensuring that every dollar is spent driving sales to your most important retailer locations.

Blis campaigns optimized with Ansa typically identify and heavy up investment around 16% of stores that are trending significantly ahead of the average store during a campaign and identify and decrease investment around 14% of stores that are trending significantly behind the average store, therefore ensuring that your budget is being optimized surrounding stores that are over-performing during a given campaign.

After each Blis campaign, Ansa automatically generates measurement of Featured Item Lift and Halo Item Lift at both the total event and week levels. Results are completed 5 business days after the end of each campaign and allow you to learn quickly and improve continuously, all at an amazingly affordable price.

Question 5: What shopper marketing measurement trends do you predict for 2018?
Optimization in-flight based on store sales trends during campaign. Optimizing on engagement, intent and / or clicks may be ok for some campaigns but more and more frequently shopper marketers are tasked with driving sales at their most important retailers. And understanding how their marketing tactics performed 5-6 weeks after a campaign has finished is just not fast enough anymore in today’s fast paced world and puts media providers at a severe disadvantage. By utilizing automated reporting that allows Ansa partners like Blis to understand and optimize their media in-flight based on daily, store-level POS sales data you now empower your media partner to act on supporting the stores that are driving your product sales which can ultimately provide a powerful boost to a shopper marketing campaign.

Question 6: If there was one piece of content you think every marketer should read, what is it?
(Other than this blog post of course!)

Think with Google and Facebook IQ are two fantastic sources of resources. Articles, trends, case studies, POVs, insights, etc… pretty much everything you need to read to keep you up-to-speed in this very fast-paced environment.

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Meet, Greet and Keep: How Mobile Can Help Brands Throughout the Sales Funnel


Meet, Greet and Keep: How Mobile Can Help Brands...

Our mobile devices give us more than just a way to call or text friends and family: Today, they are our maps, books, radios, and miniature shopping malls. We turn to them for news, entertainment and answers. And from dawn till dusk, we keep them at our sides like our most faithful companions.

So it’s no wonder mobile devices have become integral to an advertiser’s ability to reach their ideal audiences at every stage of the sales funnel. Here’s how brands can employ effective mobile advertising strategies to acquire, engage and retain customers.

Win Over New Customers

One of the best ways for advertisers to identify new audiences is to see where they shop. But without access to a competitor’s first-party purchase data or information about their website traffic, how can advertisers find this out?

Mobile devices provide the answer. By revealing where consumers go, mobile location data can tell brands which consumers spend their time browsing similar products at a competitor’s store. Let’s say Target wants to reach out to consumers who usually shop at Walmart. They can use location data to identify—then target—those who frequently visit the competitor yet still live near a Target store.

But brands need to be careful before jumping to conclusions about consumers. Real-time location data provides important insights, but they can be strengthened when paired with historical location data.

For example, just because someone visits a high-end boutique like Chanel, it doesn’t mean that person has the budget to shop there—they could just be browsing. How can an upscale fashion brand find out which of those Chanel visitors are actually potential shoppers? Here, historical location data can help. It can reveal, for instance, which of those visitors go to private airports a few times a month or regularly visit Giorgio Armani or Versace stores. Chances are, these consumers will be a better bet for the fashion brand seeking to acquire new customers.

Keep Them Interested

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? For most of us, it’s look at our phones to turn off our alarms before checking the weather and scrolling through our Twitter feeds. And throughout the day, we continue to stare down into the faces of our mobile devices: checking the news on the train, sending an email between meetings, or watching videos from our living room sofas.

In order to engage consumers on the devices we use day in and day out, advertisers will need to serve ads that make sense for the consumer depending on where they are during the day. To do this, advertisers must first ask the question: What do consumers want to see on their mobile devices and when? Consumers spend a third of their time online watching videos, for instance, but they aren’t going to watch a 30-second video ad while walking down the street.

To boost engagement, brands can use knowledge about a consumer’s historical and real-time whereabouts to reach out at the time and place that will produce the greatest level of engagement. To effectively grab the attention of a consumer that’s out and about, a banner ad may work best. Later that evening, when the consumer is at home using a tablet or laptop, a longer video on a larger screen may work well.

Inspire Loyalty

How can brands make sure they retain the new and existing customers they’ve worked so hard to gain? They must first recognize and show appreciation for their most loyal customers.

Most advertisers identify loyal customers by looking at newsletter subscriptions and online purchase histories, but they may be missing other valuable customers who prefer to shop in stores. By identifying devices that frequently visit a brand’s store location, advertisers can make sure they are recognizing—and thanking—all their biggest fans. When an existing customer comes into a store a certain number of times, for example, advertisers can deliver a thank-you message—perhaps offering the loyal customer a generous coupon to redeem in-store.

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Retailers’ Golden Ticket to Reviving Brick and Mortar Stores


Retailers’ Golden Ticket to Reviving Brick and Mortar Stores

Interested in understanding how to connect mobile experiences to physical stores? Or how mobile can be the extension of a retailer’s store? Maybe you’ve wondered about the new Cost-Per-Visit metric? Look no further. Blis’ location data experts will be answering these questions on a weekly basis over the next few months in our ‘Retail Series’ which aims to equip retail marketers with the right insights and top tips to stay ahead of the game.

Following its decision to buy e-commerce company last year, Walmart recently agreed to acquire Bonobos, a retailer with a strong online presence and generous shipping policies. If these moves weren’t sign enough that the physical and digital retail worlds are merging, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is the ultimate wake-up call.

Retailers everywhere are realizing that while brick and mortar stores are still critical, they’ll need a strong digital strategy to keep them filled with happy customers. Mobile devices are retailers’ golden ticket to connecting with consumers and reviving in-store shopping.

Understanding Consumers though Mobile

Whether they are going to work or going shopping, consumers carry their phones with them wherever they go. As a result, mobile devices provide retailers with a constant stream of valuable consumer insights. GPS and Wi-Fi data can tell retailers, for instance, whether a consumer is at a desktop at work, connected to Wi-Fi at home, or walking past a retailer’s store.

Beyond real-time location data, retailers can use historical location data to understand a consumer’s habits. For example, some consumers might visit a luxury jewelry brand on Fifth Avenue just to browse, even if they have no intention (or monetary means!) of buying. Thus, for that specific retailer, in-store visits may not indicate ideal customers. Instead, that luxury retailer can look at historical location data to identify their ideal consumers: perhaps individuals who frequently stay at the Four Seasons Hotel or regularly check in to exclusive country clubs.

But retailers shouldn’t rely on mobile data alone. By layering mobile insights with other valuable sources of data, advertisers can gain a holistic picture of their perfect audiences. Data collected from laptops, for instance, can reveal browsing histories and online shopping patterns; however, consumers won’t be opening up their laptops while shopping in stores. The trick is for retailers to match the data across devices to unique mobile device IDs. Only then will they gain a more holistic understanding of consumers and will be able to target or retarget them with products they are likely to go buy.

Driving Foot Traffic Creatively

Once they’ve gotten a clear and thorough understanding of their ideal audiences, how can retailers use mobile devices to drive foot traffic? Proximity targeting—delivering ads to consumers when they come within a certain distance of a store location—is a common approach. Retailers can maximize the power of proximity targeting by crafting unique and imaginative creatives.

For instance, advertisers can deliver ads to shoppers already in the area to tell them about an in-store sale, or offer them a coupon they can only redeem in person. Retailers can also deliver ads that feature a handy map telling consumers how to find their store.

Sometimes, targeting consumers when they are walking by a store may be a little too late. A QSR wanting to boost its 10 am breakfast crowd, for instance, may want to target consumers when they wake up around 7a and begin planning their day. Otherwise, the consumer has most likely already made their breakfast choice.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for retailers looking to connect with consumers and drive in-store sales, a strong mobile strategy is key. As the digital and physical worlds continue to blend, retailers must harness the insights and capabilities of mobile to reach their unique brand objectives.

Tune in next week to read all about how mobile is fast becoming the extension of a retailer’s store.

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