Location’s and Mobile’s Year in Review: 7 Marketing Moments that Shaped 2017

Mobile marketing is moving forward, always forward, tracking alongside the expansion of technology as the consumers’ first — and increasingly only — choice when it comes to how they experience and interact with every industry, from retail to automotive and beyond.

In the home, on the move, in stores, this year was marked by the domination of mobile marketing and by the continued rise of emerging interfaces such as augmented reality. Looking back at 2017, the list below highlights key points within this evolution — each example counts as evidence that we live in an increasingly mobile-to-offline world.

  1. A year for identifying new location-contextual opportunities. From at-home research to across-the-day moments, mobile and location data are about relevance and personalized moments. This is not just a retail opportunity. Automotive dealers, for example, spend more than $600 per car in advertising, the National Automobile Dealers Association reported in 2017. Roughly $400 of that amount is being spent on advertising channels — including TV, radio, and newspapers — that feature virtually no targeting (as we understand digital targeting, in 2017), and that leave out location data’s window onto context, relevancy, and anticipatory inspiration. As the year closes, aging notions of on-lot conquesting are poised to be replaced by other meaningful mobile moments; proximity-only strategies now represent limited models of ad spend in the M2O world.
  1. Apple’s ARKit earned powerful adopters. Augmented-reality got a boost this year when IKEA, a longtime adopter of consumer-friendly 3D-image technology, took a remarkable lead with its AR-focused Place, quickly embracing Apple’s ARKit in the process. The app allows consumers to combine shopping with the realities of their location — viewing furniture at true scale in their homes. Meanwhile, monitoring social media, the company noticed that consumers were complaining about the lack of a search feature for Place, and so they added one, deploying a new version in five days. Innovation plus responsiveness gave IKEA a 2017 mobile-marketing win.
  1. AR developers didn’t unveil a post-Pokémon follow-up, but AR did make retail inroads. Rather than a next-generation follow-up on 2016’s Pokémon GO success, what we saw was a push for incremental AR solutions — testing and deployment that largely depended on answering consumers’ wants and needs. See the IKEA instance, above, for example, and there was also this hail-Mary effort by Toys R Us to bring consumers back to stores. Meanwhile, the augmented-reality story in 2017 further expanded to different kinds of hardware altogether. As Venture Beat reported, the automobile driver’s cabin is newly poised to become automotive’s canvas for an entirely different kind of mobile AR space.
  1. Apple drew a (blue) line between mobile users and unchecked location-data practices. The iOS 11 blue bar for location lit up the conversation around consumer location-data access. The net outcome was a consumer boon, with Cupertino’s later revision — user opt-in will mitigate the blue bar requirement for selected apps — making the experience even more palatable for consumers that know the apps they love. In all cases, the core of Apple’s move means flagging battery-drain offenders and potentially unscrupulous data collectors.
  1. Mobile-ad spend increased (and the duopoly won’t claim all of it). Adweek reported this year that as much as 70 percent of digital-ad spend ended up on mobile’s side. That’s amazing news, even if it comes with the caveat that 60 percent of that spend ended up in the coffers of Google and Facebook. For the rest of us, for mobile-marketing’s innovators and leaders, there is still so much to claim — if the stats are accurate, some 40 percent of mobile-ad spend remains for the taking. Tomorrow’s leading organizations will grasp their share of it next year and in the years to come. Bottom line, the M2O landscape has room for us all.
  1. Amazon made moves to claim market share. Marketing Week sees Amazon growing its global digital ad revenue into a $2.84 billion business by 2019. Mobile is part of its play: “They have a search engine, a programmatic stack, premium content and one of the top five apps,” Kristin Lemkau, chief marketing officer at JPMorgan Chase, told Business Insider. In 2017, Amazon made inroads to retail experiences and customer touch points as well: partnerships like the one it forged with Kohl’s — the brick-and-mortar started taking Amazon returns in 2017 — stand to drive meaningful conversions (customers make new purchases about half the time during a return), and they stand as strong arguments for partner-brands to put more digital-ad spend in Amazon’s pockets as these relationships develop.
  1. And, we learned, fully realized mobile creative is not abbreviated TV. An important mobile story emerged as Dove took a TV spot, cut it down to about three seconds, and ended up with a social-media emergency. The spot, in its shortened format, left out critical elements of context — in effect, one of the images in the mobile version appeared to be racist. Moral of the story? You need to create for mobile; you can’t simply trim a TV spot and assume you’ve retained your message. Mobile consumers are super-aware of context and they are always alert to moments they can share — and sharing means outrage as well.

As a final note about 2017, we may well look back on this year as a tipping point — a moment when the mobile data-privacy equation went internal. In two cases, with Three Square Market implanting RFID chips in 50 employees’ hands — part of an IoT program at the company — and with the FDA’s approval of an ingestible sensor pill that can track medication from a patient’s insides, the doorway to a new era of data-collection and policy complexities crept open.

The above examples show that mobile marketing strengthened, evolved, and approached the threshold of exciting new steps in 2017. As we ramp-up for 2018, the work we’ve accomplished will fuel the industry’s success in the months to come. Happy new year, mobile marketing — you’ve never looked better.

*As Chief Marketing Officer, Julie Bernard leads Verve’s brand strategy, marketing, analytics and creative services. Julie was previously SVP of Omnichannel Customer Strategy, data science, loyalty, and marketing technology at Macy’s, where she was recognized as a customer-centric leader implementing data-driven approaches for strategic growth, including award-winning personalized communications at scale, first-of-a-kind loyalty programs, and modern media attribution techniques.  Bernard previously held executive leadership positions at Saks Fifth Avenue and XRoads Solutions Group, a boutique retail consultancy.

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Attribution Provider Arrivalist Brings In Location Ad Sales Vet James Smith As CRO

Location analytics and attribution company Arrivalist has named ad tech veteran James Smith as Chief Revenue Officer, General Manager.

Smith brings over a decade worth of ad sales experience to the attribution specialist. Among his previous posts, Smith as the first CRO at Huffington Post in 2006, and went on to similar ad sales leading roles at Flixster/Rotten Tomatoes. He was most recently at Verve, where he served as CRO from 2013-15.

As he has in previous posts, Smith will oversee all revenue and marketing efforts at Arrivalist, which is releasing its latest cross-platform analytics tool. Dubbed Arrivalist 3.0, the upgraded platform promises to deliver marketers “comprehensive media exposure and visitation reporting accurate down to 30 feet” and is based on a network of more than 120 million devices to supply that data.

“Marketers are hungry for a truly independent and objective mobile location attribution product that is both scalable and statistically bulletproof. Arrivalist has quietly been offering exactly that to a large base of loyal customers for several years, and I’m excited to serve these clients while bringing the new A3 product to a broader set of marketers,” Smith said. “I look forward to delivering actionable insights about customers’ offline purchase journeys, and uncovering the advertising tactics that are most effectively driving transactions for marketers who have too often had to rely on proxy metrics and biased reporting.”

“James has an incredible track record for leading innovative companies through dramatic growth,” added Cree Lawson, Arrivalist Founder and CEO. “We’re excited to bring James on board to turn the demand for Arrivalist services in to sustained value for our customers. James shares our vision for delivering the most objective, statistically significant and granular insights available in a rapidly evolving market.”

In terms of his initial goals as he takes on the CRO spot, Smith told GeoMarketing that his first main charge is to focus primarily on “presenting Arrivalist to brands beyond the blue-chip travel and tourism marketers that already renew with Arrivalist at an industry leading rate.”

“Over the past six years, Arrivalist has built a very impressive SAAS data platform, providing deep consumer insights and an independent, objective evaluation of marketers’ advertising effectiveness for more than 130 travel and tourism marketers,” Smith continued. “With ‘A3’ — Arrivalist’s latest and significant platform enhancement — Arrivalist is an even more compelling solution for other marketer verticals.”

As location data continues to evolve to encompass Connected Intelligence and voice-activation as a way of bringing connected consumers to brick-and-mortar business, we also asked Smith what marketing tech trends is he most interested in exploring as he looks to 2018.

“There is still so much more opportunity re: providing marketers with even stronger solutions regarding connecting offline/online commerce and online/offline consumer behavior,” Smith said. “To help marketers with this puzzle continues to be my focus.”

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Blis And GroupM’s Mediacom On Uncovering ‘Smart Trends’ In Attribution

Location analytics platform Blis is rolling out the beta launch of Smart Trends, a new data and insights tool that allows marketers to analyze consumer behavior, from profiling to attribution, by capturing and activating mobile movement data.

Smart Trends gathers in-store consumer behavioral data and then matches it with in-store comparisons of multiple location types and brands, so that marketers can break down by demographic, contextual, time/day, and device type analysis, as well as compare behavior of user groups side by side.

Media buying shop Mediacom, which is part of WPP’s GroupM, is one of the first ad agency partners to take up Smart Trends with Blis. We checked in with Amy Fox, head of Product at Blis, and Ben Phillips, global head of Mobile at Mediacom, to get an overview of their partnership and what it means for brands.

GeoMarketing: What’s the nature of Blis’ consumer behavioral analytics within Smart Trends?

Amy Fox: Using mobile location data, Blis’ new Smart Trends tool unlocks consumer behavior insights on purchase intent, shopping patterns, and mobile consumption while shopping. Smart Trends provides in-store and inter-store brand analysis by breaking down audience demographic, contextual content, and foot traffic. This allows for side by side behavioral comparison of user groups to enable more effective campaign planning, delivery and attribution in order to deliver competitive advantage.

How does Smart Trends compare to more established behavioral analytics tools like PC-based cookies?

Amy Fox: The data feeding Smart Trends starts out as a string of otherwise arbitrary numbers, which once overlaid with the Blis Point of Interest Database becomes insight into the daily behaviors of devices in store.  Smart Trends layers these snapshots of information over time to provide brands a full overview of spatio-temporal behavior– looking at how people move between the residential, recreational and retail environments.

Ben Phillips: It adds another layer of data that enables us to cross reference existing tools that are available to us and our clients.  Mobile has always been able to provide vast amounts of data based around a consumer in the moment, what were now developing is how to not only understand where our audiences are now but where they have been and to enable predictive modelling for the future. Smart Trends helps us to better understand consumer journeys, attribution and engagement with digital and offline media.

If location is at the center of this tool, how do you regard the perennial question of whether “location data is the new cookie?”

Amy Fox: Location is the new cookie and more when it comes to targeting and engaging with audiences. Proximity is important but you’ve also got to look at location in a historical context. You can build up comprehensive consumer profiles looking at where their device IDs turn up– whether it’s an retail store, a hotel or a movie theater. This is vital to predicting future behavioral. It’s not about where people are, but where they’ve been and using those insights to know where they are going.

Ben Phillips: Location does afford us elements of personalization above and beyond the traditional desktop measurement solutions.  Mobile has developed ways and means such as device graphs, probabilistic and deterministic ID matching and behavioral modelling to determine its audience.  This goes a long way to conforming that the best solution in market are those designed for Mobile first, this approach negates a lot of the preconceived problems encountered when working with desktop platforms and methodologies and expecting them to work in a mobile world.

Location data quality from bidstream/programmatic, GPS, cell phone tower, wifi, and (to a certain extent) beacons/bluetooth IoT sources, offer varying value in terms of accuracy. What are the sources of Blis’ analytics tool and how does it deal with the questions of signal sources and accuracy?

Amy Fox: Smart Trends data is captured via movement data sources which includes GPS, wifi and beacons. Like all Blis-verified location data, it passes through our quality control technology to filter out inaccurate and fraudulent points so that we’re only working with sources we can trust.

Ben Phillips: With 50-70 percent of GPS data being inaccurate, fraud needs to be removed which unfortunately leaves the data sets at a fraction of the size with the need to be scaled up again in order to identify actionable insights. What Blis does is they use verified GPS data scaled out to public wifi, something we haven’t seen done with any other location partner.

Are there any particular kinds of clients that the new behavioral analytics tool benefits? (Retail and QSR versus automotive and banking/financial services? Or does it benefit all major categories?)

Amy Fox: The insights gained from Smart Trends are applicable to any category.  Brand marketers across all verticals have access to a wealth of information on their customers, but often the data is limited to engagement with their own properties. To get a more holistic perspective of their audience – looking at aspects such as behavior with your brand in the context of competitors and in different environments – is valuable in identifying lifestyle indicators to inform brand positioning or cross-vertical partnerships that will help convert target audiences.

Ben Phillips: Many clients, not just retailers with storefronts, are using location data to measure the amount of time spent with their brand– everything from footfall attribution to cross platform engagement. Blis took us through a pilot study looking at foot traffic across the national grocery market. Obviously this is an extremely competitive sector, with promotions and store openings constantly shifting as they fight to increase shopper frequency , which ultimately impacts revenue market share at a brand level.

This passively collected data can provide insight on the actual store-to-store behavioral of shoppers with a granularity that survey data simply can’t match. As we move further away from traditional buying proxies, I predict that location data will become a broad consideration in the coming months, accounting for a large percentage of campaigns in 2018.

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What’s The State Of Digital Out-Of-Home In 2017?

Out of home is one of the oldest forms of mass advertising — and the literal first form of location-based messaging. As OOH has largely adopted the contemporary use of digital through mobile advertising and geo-data to strike a balance between mass marketing and one-to-one personalization, the industry is experiencing what Kym Frank, the president of Geopath, calls a “renaissance” in terms of spending, technology strides, and creativity.

Originally known as the Traffic Audit Bureau for Media Measurement Inc., Geopath is a non-profit organization governed by “a tripartite board comprised of advertisers, agencies, and media companies.”

Geopath’s historical role was to audit the circulation of OOH media in the United States. Geopath looks to the future with state-of-the-art audience location measurement, deep consumer insight, and innovative market research.

In an interview, Frank offered her sense of outdoor’s digital transformation is winning over advertisers and marketers need to know.

In particular, the main point Kim drove home was  how the outdoor ad industry has invested huge amounts in a digital transformation “that has helped reignite excitement among marketers by making the format more creative, interactive and targeted.”

GeoMarketing: What Is Geopath and what is its mission?

Kym Frank: Geopath is the industry standard currency, powering a smarter Out of Home advertising industry (OOH). We are a not-for-profit organization that has provided auditing and measurement for OOH for more than 80 years. Many people — even those within the industry — are often surprised when they hear how long we have been around. Currently, we measure more than 1MM advertising spaces across the United States. Our members span the entire media landscape from general and specialized advertising agencies, to media companies and large brands like Coca-Cola.

Being a not-for-profit allows us to focus on the needs of our members without having the pressure of quarterly profit goals. It also allows the entire industry to share the costs of a highly accountable measurement system, to help set our priorities, and to have input into the way that our organization is governed. Ultimately, we see ourselves as an extension of our members’ teams and want to do what is best for them — and the industry overall. We are here to support them through our research, measurement, and thought leadership.

This what drove our rebrand in September of last year. The new name is not only a reflection of what is happening within the industry and the dynamic organization that we truly are. It also reflects a strategic shift in our focus from strictly measuring audience impressions to one based on analyzing audience location. This new focus will allow us to provide better analytics, deeper consumer insights and a better understanding of OOH ad effectiveness.

How has Geopath’s focus changed since rebranding from Traffic Audit Bureau for Media Measurement Inc.?

Overall, our mission has remained the same, but there has still been a tremendous amount of change at Geopath since the rebrand.

Last year, the Geopath membership decided to make an investment in our industry’s currency, enriching the system with data from mobile devices, connected cars, and GPS platforms. This investment was to ensure that our organization can provide state-of-the-art and responsible metrics that today’s advertisers are demanding from publishers across all channels.

As part of this change to the industry currency, we changed our tagline from “Out of home ratings” to “Audience Location Measurement.” The new focus of the organization’s measurement system is on measuring people, not inventory.

Our solution, slated to launch in early 2018, will provide Geopath members with a 360-degree view of aggregated anonymous audience movement. OOH advertisers will now be able to more precisely understand who they are reaching every hour of the day, every day of the week. This gives advertisers and their agency partners the ability to better optimize their planning and assess campaign performance.

Ultimately, empowering them to deliver the most impactful messages, at the right time, in the best location to their specific target audience.

This level of granular insights will position outdoor advertising to be one of the most well-measured and reactive channels for marketers.

What’s the state of Digital Out of Home in 2017?

The entire OOH industry is currently in a renaissance. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), industry revenue hit an all-time high of $7.6 billion last year and has grown in every one of the last 28 quarters. In fact, every segment of the business has increased.

Digital Out of Home (DOOH) has been a key part of this. For one, the dynamic nature of DOOH enables advertisers to change creative as a result of triggers such as weather, search queries, or even the presence of mobile devices. Sensors can even be embedded in displays that can recognize automobile models and respond with custom messaging.

Another big trend we are seeing with DOOH, is the streaming of live content, like sports scores and social media feeds. This is highly impactful and helps brands build a dialogue with their audience in real-time — and in real-life.

Is there any sense of whether all outdoor advertising is digital in some form (even static print billboards often mention a website)?

OOH advertising, even in printed form, is becoming more and more digital. The process of identifying which locations to purchase, buying the inventory, ordering the creative and having it mounted was a very manual process in the past, but all of that is becoming automated today. The decision of which inventory to advertise on is often fueled by big data and optimized utilizing advanced software systems. Even printed inventory can be bought through automated systems. The entire process of getting the advertisement in front of a consumer – even if it is on vinyl – can be digitized.

A quarter of the top 100 advertisers last year were tech companies like Google and Apple – and in many cases, they choose to place their ads on printed inventory.

In fact, there is a significant amount of synergy when OOH is paired with digital and mobile advertising. A recent study conducted by the OAAA and MBI USA Touchpoints, revealed that pairing OOH advertising with digital media can increase reach by more than 300 percent.

Marketers can geofence any type of inventory, printed or digital, to amplify their OOH messaging with mobile retargeting. And to your point, messaging on printed boards can also drive consumers to a digital call-to-action.

How does geo-data and the use of location analytics factor into Geopath’s measurement capabilities and offerings?

Quality geolocation data are at the core of how Geopath measures audience. Geopath’s approach to audience measurement requires an understanding of the entire population, not just individuals with smartphone or connected devices.

We require scale, to measure across the country, but also precision, to understand local movements on every single roadway. To achieve such ambitious capabilities, we utilize diverse sources of geo-data and powerful analytics to contextualize all data sources against one another. This approach ensures that we provide a useful planning product to our members and an accurate historical resource for post-campaign analysis.

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