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Geolocation gets an IQ boost
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Unless you were working in the highest levels of government during Cold War, you wouldn’t have known much about geolocation until the 1990s, when you got a GPS for your car.

It wasn’t until the 2000s and smartphone technology that we began leading the earliest efforts in location-based advertising. We launched projects across New York, London, and Sydney to give people free access to Wi-Fi on their phones and enable advertisers to buy impressions based on consumers’ locations.

Today, location-based marketing has become one of the most innovative and accurate ways to target, engage, and influence consumers. What’s more, across Europe, 40% of mobile subscribers are predicted to use location-based services in 2017, peaking at 48% in the UK, illustrating the wealth of location data at marketers’ fingertips.

With this in mind, how are advertisers using location technology and what will it look like in the future? I’m taking a look at the current state of geolocation marketing in Europe and how senior marketers can harness it in such a fast-paced industry with ever-changing consumer behaviours. I’ll also offer a preview of its promising future—one that’s closer than you think.

Geolocation Arrives in Advertising

Today, mobile devices provide much more accurate location data—even without Wi-Fi. From apps that enable mobile check-ins like Facebook and FourSquare, to location-based services that rely on 3G like Uber, consumers are constantly communicating their exact whereabouts with an estimated 240 million smartphone users across Europe in 2016. And brands are listening. In fact, 38% of European retailers and one-third of all European enterprises use geo-targeting for online ads.

Detailed information about the paths consumers take can reveal their interests, habits, and preferences in ways simple metrics like ‘gender’ or ‘profession’ simply cannot. Geolocation technology and services can help brands capture and capitalise on these insights.

Making the Most of Where You Are

Now that location targeting is becoming increasingly popular among some of Europe’s top brand marketers, how exactly are they using it to their advantage?

Take a sportswear store on the high-street, for example. It can use location-based insights to bring potential customers in store by delivering ads to anyone walking within a 100-meter radius. But in that huge space, the shop will be targeting everyone from the wealthy business executive browsing in the nearby Selfridges to a family of five shopping at Primark. The shop can utilize those location-based insights to segment their audience even further, reaching out only to the most likely consumers: people currently shopping in the other sportswear shops nearby or browsing fitness content. Using location targeting the sportswear store will be reaching their target audience with relevant content, rather than wasting their budget on the wrong audience.

Though effective on its own, geolocation is strongest when used in conjunction with other data. In fact, overlaying location data with other third-party data sources will help ensure greater accuracy and insight into consumers. Browsing history can enable a luxury auto brand to identify an audience that frequently looks at high-end cars online. Coupling that history with location data can paint a clearer picture of how likely they are to buy the product. Targeting those viewers who live in affluent areas, for instance, will produce better results. Using location data to segment even further, a brand can focus on the most likely buyers: those who have recently visited a car dealership.

Brands can also use location data to choose the right ad format. A luxury car manufacturer may identify their ideal audience – affluent, single men who have recently browsed a high-end automotive website – but what kind of ad will be most successful? A quick banner ad may work well to keep the brand front of mind when location data shows he’s walking down the street, while a three-minute video ad might work better when he’s connected to the Wi-Fi at home.’

But location-based marketing is not without risk. Brands that wish to reap the benefits of geolocation must take precautions to ensure their location data is accurate. They can do this by working with suppliers and partners that carefully filter out any suspicious data. They can also request third-party validation after each campaign to make sure their efforts are always on the mark. The EU has itself stressed the importance of improved geolocation accuracy, with the VP of the European Commission describing it as “at the heart of the ongoing digital revolution” after the launch of the EU’s new hyper-accurate GPS-like network: Galileo.

The Future of Location-based Marketing

Advances in geolocation have been swift and continuous over the past decade—but we’re really just getting started. As technology continues to advance, where is geolocation going?

With the evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the advent of products like Google Home and driverless cars, we’re seeing humans take a backseat as computers learn more from us and about us. For instance, computers are beginning to learn what you’re likely to buy and where you’re likely to buy it. Such is the power of AI and brands are already using it to target consumers.

Location data will always be a critical supplement to these futuristic innovations. In fact, innovations that combine AI with location history will soon hit the market, able to predict who a brand’s audience will be and when this audience should be targeted in order to get people to visit the store.

As AI becomes a dominant force in marketing, location data will continue to boost its power, showing brands not only who we are, but also who we aspire to be. Brands that seize this leading-edge technology will be able to create experiences like never before, fashioning hyper-targeted ads that will perform better and lead to higher rates of conversation.

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Today, mobile devices are like mini retail stores we carry around in our pockets: places where consumers can browse merchandise or place orders almost instantly.

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How can retailers use mobile insights and capabilities to craft effective, one-to-one messaging?

1. Get personal.

Today, consumers want—and expect—ads to speak directly to them. In fact, 74% of customers feel frustrated when their online experiences aren’t personalized.

The easiest way for retailers to personalize content is by harnessing their first-party data. If a customer purchases a dress online, the brand can use what they know about her (her fashion interests, browsing history and email address) to customize subsequent content. For example, the brand can serve an ad via email that suggests a pair of shoes to go along with the new dress.

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Once retailer marketers have identified their ideal audiences on mobile, they shouldn’t see phones as the only means of communication. Consumers own an average of 3.6 connected devices, so retailers should communicate with consumers across the devices they use, including tablets, laptops, desktops and addressable TV.

However, if a retailer sees a user reading political news on the tablet all day but watching cartoons in the evening, it might not be the same same person. With families and partners sharing devices at home, marketers need to make sure they are constructing nuanced consumer profiles across devices in order to reach out to individuals, not just devices.

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Personalized, cross-device marketing is on the rise in part because consumers are increasingly willing to disclose their data to retailers. After all, purchase histories and location data are essential for useful or interesting ads.

But how retailers use that data is key. Consumers want to feel understood, but they don’t want to feel like ads are invasive or drawing on data that’s simply too personal and private. Marketers need to make sure they aren’t crossing any personal boundaries or making consumers feel uncomfortable.

If marketers want to turn heads or, more importantly, turn consumers into buyers, they’ll need to do more than blast out generic ads to the masses. When retailers personalize ads with these three tips, they’ll see huge improvements in campaign performance.

But how, exactly, do they measure these improvements? Find out next week when we assess the best metrics for retailers.

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The twentieth-century American engineer and statistician W. Edwards Deming once said, “Just because you can measure everything, doesn’t mean that you should.”

This applies to retailer struggles today as marketing executives need to decide what they should measure and how. Do they care about impressions, views or click-through rates? And once they figure that out, how can they make sure their ad dollars are really working? The Partnership predicts that ad fraud will cost brands over $16 billion this year alone, while Infectious Media suggests that over half of all digital ads aren’t seen at all.

Fortunately for retailers, there’s a new metric in town—one designed to eliminate waste and increase sales. With a cost-per-visit (CPV) model, retailers pay only when a consumer sees an ad and visits a specific location. Here are four ways retailers are benefiting from this cutting-edge new metric.

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With the National Retail Federation predicting eight to 12 percent e-commerce growth this year alone, no one can deny the rapid rise of online sales. However, 85 percent of consumers still prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar stores, where 94 percent of all sales are generated. That’s why it’s vital for retailers to keep their physical stores alive and continue to enhance their in-store experiences.

With the explicit goal of bringing visitors into physical store locations, CPV is a metric for retailers wanting to increase foot traffic—and pay only for successful conversions. While there are many ways to boost in-store visits, today’s leading location data solutions use predictive location modeling. With Blis Futures, we choose to charge on a CPV-basis because we are completely confident in this approach.

2) Greater In-store Sales

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When retailers buy ads on a cost-per-visit basis, they don’t pay if the consumer sees the ad but doesn’t come into the store. That means the retailer also benefits from ad views and branding. In fact, a consumer may see the ad and make a purchase online rather than in-store, but the marketer still pays nothing for that conversion. At Blis, we are willing to take that risk and allow marketers “free” branding messages. Our confidence in the technology behind our CPV metric allows us to think of marketers first.

4) Risk-free Investing

CPV transfers the risk from buyer to partner, so retailers don’t have to worry about wasted ad spend: They’re making a completely risk-free investment. With free branding and zero downside, retailers have nothing to lose.

When Blis became one of the first tech partners to offer the CPV model earlier this year, we sent a critical message to both retailers and the wider industry: We’re ushering in a new era of transparency and accountability in advertising.

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You’re on your way to work when you pass a billboard featuring Nike’s newest running shoe. That reminds you: you just signed up for a half marathon, so you’ll need some new gear. You start googling top-of-the-line running shoes on your phone. You forget about the race until days later when looking at Facebook on your laptop, and there they are: the same shoes that caught your eye. Still, you won’t purchase them until you try them on. So what a pleasant surprise when, on your walk home, a banner ad appears across your phone: “You’re 3 minutes from a Nike store,” it says. Why not stop by?

If you go into that store and purchase those shoes, which ad was it that led to the conversion? Was it the original billboard, the social media ad, or the location-based banner? Perhaps a perfect combination of all three?

These questions reflect the challenges every marketer is currently facing when it comes to attribution. Today, a typical path to purchase is no longer a straight line to the point of sale. It looks more like a latticework of ads both online and offline, on our devices or in our neighborhoods.

Yet despite this added complexity, brands can begin to solve the mystery of attribution and determine the value of each marketing touchpoint. They just need to follow the footsteps.

Understanding Footsteps to Purchase

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Location data can also reveal more than just how many devices made it into stores. It can also tell advertisers the average time it takes for someone to enter a store after seeing an ad, or which locations are performing best. Brands can also layer this data with purchase histories and sales data for even more insightful stats and figures into how their customers are responding to ads.

So once brands have uncovered all these clues into what’s driving conversions and how, what do they do with it all?

Step Up Your Campaigns

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An energy drink brand, for example, can use data about foot traffic and sales to make sure the next iteration of their campaign performs even better. Let’s say the brand discovers that people are 50 percent more likely to go into a store that stocks the energy drink when they receive an ad within 200 feet of the retailer. Rather than targeting everyone within 500 feet of the retailer, the brand can eliminate waste by just reaching out to those within a much smaller radius.

What if advertisers discover that no matter what distance, more people seem to be purchasing the energy drink from Walgreens than CVS? Perhaps next time, they can put a greater share of their ad budget into targeting those near Walgreens.

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