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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Understanding Marketers Top ‘Pain Points’ When Using Geo-Data

About 38 percent of marketers say they have difficulty deriving context from the historical insights about consumers when using location data, a survey by Verve and Forrester have found.

At the same time, another 37 percent say they can’t achieve the expected “granularity” when attempting a geotargeting campaign. In Verve’s analysis, those findings suggest that brands are not able to take advantage of “the unique characteristics of mobile in the effort to maximize advertising value for the consumer.”

The study, Pursuing the Mobile Moment, was conducted in June and was based on an online survey of 203 “marketing decision makers” in organizations that spend $250 million or more annually on advertising in North America.

On the positive side, the idea of location marketing has clearly achieved mainstream marketing acceptance. About 74 percent of the advertisers surveyed say they appreciate location’s value in helping to craft and deliver more “relevant” ads, particularly when it comes to “micro-moments“— those on-the-go periods when a need to satisfy an impulse (coffee, a place to eat,) come up.

Additionally, nearly half the respondents value location data’s omnichannel usefulness in driving incremental in-store visits. But closing the gap between recognizing location’s importance and the ability to get the greatest ROI out of these marketing methods is something that the industry can’t simply ignore, says Julie Bernard, Verve’s CMO.

“It’s not enough to point to the successful outcomes that leading global brands are achieving with location-powered mobile marketing; we have to strive for even deeper insights into what advertisers across the spectrum of mobile-marketing maturity are experiencing,” says Bernard in a statement.

As Forrester concludes in its recommendations, understanding that the quality of location data depends on the source, and how it differs in accuracy, scale, and access, is the first step that brands and their agencies and vendors need to be clear on.

“Limiting these differences means asking a few questions,” Forrester says. “Where does the location data come from — for example, a first-party SDK, a publisher, and/or a beacon? How accurate is the data and how is it validated? What types of location tracking are available for gathering historical insights, cross-device tracking, measurement, and attribution?”

In terms of the discussions that brands, agencies, and location data providers need to have, Verve CEO Tom Kenney recently discussed the ways platform companies can build confidence and stability in their offerings.

“For location-powered leaders and their brand and publisher partners, the high king is the technology that we use to make all this data and media and expertise come together in a unified way. It’s this unification that drives real-world sales,” Kenney wrote in an contributed piece this past month. “It’s the platform. It’s the result of the engineering inventions that empower us to execute with accuracy, speed, and overall excellence as we create meaningful and responsive mobile moments for the consumer.”

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Verve German Acquisition Pushes Mobile Ad Platform Deeper Into Proximity-Targeting

A year after began building up its presence in Europe with the opening of its London base, Verve has made its first acquisition on the continent with the purchase of German push-marketing specialists matchinguu GmbH.

The deal accomplishes two main goals Verve has been pursuing for the past 15 months.

First, matchinguu GmbH will give Verve access to German publishers and advertisers in Europe. Secondly, it expands Verve’s focus on connecting outdoor geotargeting along with indoor proximity marketing. Verve first explored indoor marketing with its acquisition of beacon platform Roximity in June 2016.

Specifically, four-year-old matchinguu GmbH’s proximity-based push and in-app notification tools will be folded into the enterprise-focused program called Verve Velocity, which is part of Verve’s effort to turn the one-time mobile ad network into a “one-stop-stop” for location-based ad targeting, data, and insights.

“[The purchase of matchinguu GmbH] checked a lot of boxes for Verve,” Fi Taylor, Marketing Manager International, told GeoMarketing’s Lauryn Chamberlain in Cannes last week. “It gives us  a push Notification product immediately. That will mean Verve can adopt that product, and we can then overlay our intelligence and location ad tech story that we’ve built up over the past 10 years.”

In essence, matchinguu GmbH will help Verve’s clients reach new European audiences with “enhanced mobile advertising experiences aligned to the unique needs and expectations of consumers in the EU,” the company said in a statement.

Considering that Germany is Western Europe’s second largest advertising market, plus the fact that Germany’s mobile ad spend is expected to reach $3.5 billion in 2017, the deal comes at a good time for Verve to broaden its reach.

“The acquisition came naturally, thanks to the complementary technologies and both parties having similar missions: enabling great storytelling through location-powered data,” said Ian James, Verve’s International GM. “We are opening the doors to Germany’s foremost push technology; working together will make our offering even stronger for our clients and bring Verve firmly into the heart of Europe. Consumers demand relevance and engagement that is as seamless as possible and this acquisition will empower us to deliver this more than ever.”

“matchinguu GmbH’s mission has always been to deliver a premium location data solution for our clients, allowing them to expand their storytelling capabilities beyond the norm, which has always been a core focus of Verve,” said Felix Heberle, CEO, matchinguu GmbH. “I am very excited to see the results of our businesses joining forces, not only in Europe but also in the US market.”

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YP Taps Verve To Help Expand National-To-Local Ad Reach

YP has signed up Verve as a display ad distribution partner as the company, which bills itself as “The Real Yellow Pages” looks to expand its reach and focus to serving national brands that want to target local consumers.

The deal comes a week after the rollout of ypWebsite Pro, which helps local brands create central internet hub with a mobile-responsive, SEO-ready website.

This agreement between YP and Verve is actually an expansion of an earlier partnership to power YP’s mobile display for SMBs by extending similar capabilities to national brands.

YP’s pitch to brands is that consumers arrive at YP’s sites by searching for a specific local product or service.

The company backs that up by citing conducted by comScore on behalf of YP, 74 percent of YP users make a purchase after searching, and those searchers spend an average of 34 percent more per purchase than all searchers.

Therefore, serving YP’s display ads to those “intent-focused” consumers would seem to be particularly valuable — especially outside of the confines of the websites within YP’s own network. Working with Verve will spread those display ads to placements within the apps and publisher sites that Verve is aligned with.

“With millions of users, YP is committed to connecting local businesses with consumers wherever they are, on whatever device or medium they’re using,” said YP CEO Jared Rowe. “We rely on industry leading partners like Verve to help us expand our reach beyond our owned and operated channels. This agreement allows us to focus on our large consumer audience while delivering even more value to our clients.”

Although the emergence of connected intelligence through voice-activated digital assistants like Siri and Alexa may soon call the utility of a brand’s website into question, the fact remains that brands need a central hub for the vital business information consumers need, Stu MacFarlane, Executive Vice President of Products and Marketing at YP, noted in an interview with GeoMarketing last week.

“Websites are foundational to connecting local businesses with consumers, and a strong SEO strategy is critical to delivering traffic to their sites,” MacFarlane said.

From Verve’s vantage point, the idea of display ads being “static” or leading to banner blindness, particularly within the mobile space, ignores the fact that they still reach and influence millions of consumers.

“Mobile marketing is far more than a banner displayed on a phone,” said Verve CEO and President Tom Kenney. “It is a powerful opportunity for brands and publishers to deliver extremely relevant and localized messages in contextual moments that resonate with consumers. We look forward to combining the Verve location-powered insights and targeting model with YP’s exceptionally large user base to deliver superior consumer experiences and tangible business results for advertisers.”

 

 

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How Verve And Digital Domain Are Pairing Geo-Data With Video

The introduction of Verve’s location-based mobile video ad offering last week is intended to capitalize on the popularity of location and “sight, sound, and motion” that has become fairly mainstream for most advertisers and publishers as mobile marketing itself becomes more central.

Verve cited figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s 2016 Full Year Report that mobile video ad spending jumped 145 percent year-over-year to nearly $4.2 billion — a clear demonstration of brands’ interest in video’s acceptance on smaller screens.

While the combination of location and video is not unusual, the differences between display, rich media, and native is important enough technologically to create a distinct offering.

“What we’re launching is in direct response to what we’re hearing from our clients and where consumer attention is going,” said Kevin Arrix, Verve’s Chief Revenue Officer. “We see tremendous value in helping brands unlock the distinctive power of location data for mobile video, not only in terms of finding consumers in real-time but, more meaningfully, by targeting the most relevant audiences based on their historical movement patterns.”

The location/video offering follows the partnership it struck with video effects and production platform Digital Domain back in February. It’s positioned within Verve Activate, the location ad platform’s audience segmentation, insights, and targeting program.

“Our partnership with Verve continues to align around this powerful combination of technology and artistry,” said Amit Chopra, Executive Director and COO at Digital Domain. “Bringing immersive technology to location-powered video expands and enhances the ways in which brands can convey engaging and contextually relevant ads to consumers.”

In a look at how Facebook and YouTube were influencing the role of mobile video in March,  Verve’s VP and creative director Walter T. Geer III wrote on GeoMarketing that “Brands and publishers clearly want to get to a point where they’re offering both meaningful, location- and context-sensitive experiences and meaningful monetization. But the industry is still in the early days of defining how video content on the smartphone and mobile device can achieve that goal, contextual and otherwise. Success in all these efforts comes down to finding smarter ways to engage.”

We spoke with Verve’s Arrix ahead of his appearance at Tuesday’s IAB Mobile Symposium, where he’ll be discussing location-based ad sales strategies.

GeoMarketing: What’s special about the way Verve is linking location and video?

Kevin Arrix: The fact that our agency and brand partners have been pretty excited by the power and results of location, as well as noting the importance of online video, our partners encouraged us to find ways of putting the two together. So this is all about delivering a scaled video/location solution to the marketplace.

Does this product represent any new capabilities versus what Verve was able to do before, or is this mainly about offering a formal, synthesized solution?

We’ve been testing the incremental benefit of location targeting and insights for video. So bringing that added layer of our first-party data, the precision that goes with that to display, rich media, and now video, is something we’ve been working on. It was just a no-brainer for us to bring this comprehensive offering wider.

What’s the nature of the partnership Verve struck in February with Digital Domain? Is there a creative capability being baked in to the location/video offering?

Digital Domain is a world-class production and camera technology company. They bring that capability and quality to our advertiser partners. Working with Digital Domain also helps us address a something missing in the marketplace around 360-degree video: one of the challenges is distribution. If we pair our presence, our distribution platform with Digital Domain’s expertise, it makes for a great combination.

How are Verve and Digital Domain going to market with this location/video solution?

We’re in the process of approaching our strongest partners. It’s open to advertiser who sees the value in more forward-thinking video formats. But it’s all done in conjunction with Digital Domain.

The focus is on proving out the power of location and video in a variety of ways and use cases. We’ve proven it in display and rich media. So, we’re expanding our suite of mobile advertising solutions. The ability to overlay high-quality, first-party location data places Verve in a unique position to help brands elevate their mobile strategy by enabling them to reach intended audiences with greater efficiency and relevance.

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