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Survey: 80 Percent Of Mobile Marketers Using Location, Mostly As Audience Proxy
ROI uncertainty holding back more frequent adoption and usage.
Most mobile marketers today are using location-based advertising. That’s a key finding from a new survey of marketers from mobile ad platform xAd. However uncertainty about ROI and campaign performance is holding back more enthusiastic adoption.
The company surveyed 574 ad agency executives and marketing decision makers from four regions: North America, Western Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America to assess their attitudes and adoption of location-based mobile marketing.
As a foundational matter, a majority of respondents said that “mobile advertising is a priority.” What I find interesting, however, is that only a minority labeled it a “top priority.” This indicates a lack of urgency among many marketers, which is striking given widely documented mobile-first consumer behavior.
Another half-full, half-empty finding is that marketers reported consumers currently engaging with their ads or a belief that they will engage with or be receptive to them in the future. While that can be regarded as a upbeat finding, there’s an ambivalent subtext — or uncertainty about the efficacy of mobile advertising.
Here’s the headline: the great majority (78 percent) of marketers surveyed were already using location in their mobile ad campaigns. The most striking thing here however is that location (or location history) is being used as a way to reach specific audiences. It has overtaken real-time location targeting, which is the way most people still think about location based advertising.
Mobile-location history enables marketers and ad platforms to bucket consumers into aggregate audience segments. Location history thus becomes a proxy for audience. Smartphone moms display these patterns, business travelers or auto-intenders show others, and so on.
Yet location-derived audience targeting can also combined with real-time location targeting (e.g., QSR regulars who are within 2 miles of a McDonalds) to produce even more powerful results in many instances.
The final aspect of the survey I want to address is the source of brand or marketer hesitation to spend more on location-based targeting. While nearly 80 percent of marketer-respondents said they were already using location targeting, the chart below implies it’s not a matter of routine in their campaigns.
The question to which the chart below responds is: “In your opinion, what is the biggest factor holding back brands from spending on mobile location advertising?” Inability to measure ROI or campaign performance were the biggest factors identified as obstacles to further investment.
In one sense this is a generic concern about mobile advertising (or any relatively new medium). But there are already solutions to the mobile ROI question today (e.g., measuring offline conversions from mobile campaigns). So one would imagine that in the near future these sorts of objections will go away.
The findings of this survey are interesting as an examination of the current use of location by marketers. However even these top-level results reveal much about marketers’ still-existing ambivalence or uncertainty about mobile as an advertising medium, even in the face of overwhelming consumer adoption and usage.