Location-based mobile advertising loves where you are, not where you're going

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Location-based mobile advertising loves where you are, not where you’re going
Andrew Darling

We have come to trust online marketing and advertising, but mobile messages pushed to us by advertising are still perceived as invasive. One UK company, Blis, is using Smart Data to make these messages more relevant

By Monty Munford

Earlier this week I boarded a British Airways flight to India to spend time at the Pocket Gamer Connects conference in Bangalore learning more about mobile games and meeting interesting people.

The process for boarding that flight was easier than it used to be. British Airways has my passport information on file, the company usually knows in which class I want to travel, what food I prefer to eat, and was personally welcomed when I arrived at its Terminal Five lounge.

Not only was my boarding information and boarding card easily available on my BA app, but my familiarity with the airline meant I had already arranged airport parking at a discounted price, and my car registration number previously stored. I also added the return journey to my air miles (Avios) and I look forward to travelling with them henceforward.

Moreover, I have no problem if BA contact me by email or post about personalised travel offers; I’m more than happy to read them. However, the one channel that I do not like to be bothered by and that is my mobile. Having the app is one thing, receiving mobile advertising, or worse, location-based mobile advertising is quite another.

I am not alone. Online advertising is now part of the mainstream and consumers such as myself are comfortable with it, but mobile advertising remains a click too far. Messages beamed in, even from trusted content providers, feel wrong and invasive… and then never seem to work properly.

But it’s very big business. A recent IAB and PwC report on spending on mobile advertising in the UK has shown that these mobile ads now make up 23 per cent of the total amount of £7.2 billion that was spent last year on digital marketing.

If these messages are purely based on a user’s location, then reluctance to engage is even more marked. That particular technology has always promised more to deliver than it ever has done, but after ten years of potential, things may be changing, even for digital half-natives such as myself.

One of the big problems the industry faces is that location data coming back from an ad request is inaccurate or even untrue. Location accuracy can be defined as the proximity of a user’s stated location as per the ad request, compared to the user’s actual real-world location.

But the mobile environment is certainly expanding fast. Brands are increasingly looking at new ways of reaching their customers and communicating in the most personalised way possible, without estranging those customers… and the answer appears to be Smart Data.

Being able to develop a multi-dimensional view of the customers that brands are looking to connect with emotionally is key to this relationship. The more brands know about their customers, the more they can predict customer respond to the advertising. This means more emotional connection and campaigns that are more precise, less wasteful and more relevant to the individual.

One company that professes to understand this relationship is Blis, a 10-year-old UK company based in London with offices in Sydney and Singapore. It describes itself as ‘a leading provider of data-driven, programmatic, ad buying solutions for digital display and video’.

It also uses specific algorithms that, based on six stages of verification, pinpoint only smart data and eliminates up to 90% of irrelevant data. This assertion is based on the belief that similar people go to similar places and are likely to have similar attitudes to specific advertisements.

To achieve smart insights, it is important to gather the right information. Refined location data is very powerful once refined and crucial in understanding, segmenting, contextualising, and predicting customer behaviour. But agency adtech partners must know how to process this raw data to transform it into relevant, ‘smart’ information.

Every location partner has its own way of cleaning up bad data, but those who haven’t built their own proprietary technology platforms cannot deliver a high quality data product. Blis is convinced that its technology is the bridge for making this possible.

“We believe that where people go is just as important as what they read, in defining who they are. We have been providing location-aware advertising technology for more than ten years. We have our own patented technology and proprietary data algorithms that allows us to offer the best-in-class digital advertising solutions. Put simply, our data works,” said Harry Dewhirst, President Blis.

If identifying the user’s true location is the goal of any ad platform to enhance targeting capabilities and optimise ad performance, then the most accurate location source is from assisted GPS if enabled on the handset, or from WiFi access on the device.

Blis’ Dewhirst goes on to say that “agencies need to pick their mobile adtech and data partners carefully. It has become more important than ever for advertisers to reach their target audience, on-the-move, in real-world locations.”

That may be so, but another thing I know is that as soon as I parked my car at Terminal 5, my mobile buzzed with all sort of notifications about what I could buy at the Terminal 5 shops… location-based advertising that seems to have breached my previously battle-hardened defences.

Perhaps Heathrow Airport should have a word with Blis and see if they can arrange some form of mobile location-based marketing that doesn’t make me want to throw my phone at the nearest sensor or mobile mast.

But there again, it never has been easier to board a flight wherever I’m located, so I shouldn’t be too churlish. Safe travels.

Read original article in The Telegraph

Andrew Darling is Communications Director at Blis. He is responsible for Blis’ global communications and PR activities, as well as marketing operations in APAC. Andrew is a seasoned tech marketing and communications expert, Chair of the IAB SG Mobile Committee and former Telecoms, Media and Technology journalist.
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