What We’ve Learned: Navigating an Event-Driven Mobile Campaign

PlaceIQ’s Audience Series sets out to highlight the importance of segments in the advertising world. As the pioneer of mobile’s application to location intelligence, and leaders in the mobile audience field, PlaceIQ has the knowledge you need. Key audience experts from each PIQ department — from engineering, to data science, to sales — will tackle a new topic to give a 360-degree view on this vast, ever-changing industry.

PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall has long said that “location is the biggest indicator of intent since search,” and both brands and advertisers have seemed to agree in kind. Mobile, the media format that enables the greatest degree of accuracy in identifying a user’s location, has witnessed a growth in advertising dollars that outpaces every other media format, and much of this spend is going to location-based targeting.

And why not? Not only are there more Android devices activated each day than there are babies born, but users are spending increasing amounts of time on their newfound electronic lifeblood, which is rarely more than three feet away from them. Add in granular location data on each impression, combine that with a sophisticated understanding of the space and time in which consumers travel, and you have an incredible platform for audience development, targeting, insight and attribution.

But in order to build and execute on a successful campaign, particularly for the impending phenomenon of holidays over the coming weeks, it is imperative to develop a well-planned, event-based advertising strategy.

The Challenges of Event-Driven Targeting in Mobile

Targeting a successful location-based advertising campaign on a day like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or any of the hectic shopping days before Christmas can prove to create an enthralling set of problems to solve. In our experiences running event-driven mobile campaigns in the past, including a particularly relevant, large-scale campaign that targeted in-store customers on Black Friday 2012, we’ve learned to fine-tune our execution strategies to account for a few potential challenges:

  1. Supply ScarcityWhether you’re a big box retailer with 1,000 brick-and-mortar locations across the country or a regional consortium of auto dealers, it’s important to note that there is a limit on the market of available impressions out there for your in-store customers. (Khoa Pham wrote an excellent post on Fermi problems and ad targeting).
  2. Increased CompetitionIncreases in consumer purchase intent on days like Black Friday are met with increases in advertising demand, meaning that the competition for consumer attention on limited available impressions is much higher than usual and, despite increased shopping activities, supply will not rise to meet demand in many cases.
  3. Scalable InfrastructureThe increasing rush of ad demand to RTB, which has consistently outpaced research firm projections in recent years, has led to an increased supply in ad impressions and, consequently, an increased requirement for ad buyers to develop scalable infrastructure. The increase in consumer activity and competition for impressions brought on by holidays and large-scale events makes scalable infrastructure even more important. In order to capitalize on as many of those limited, relevant available impressions and beat out competition for them, it’s imperative to support seeing as much of the pool as possible. Unfortunately, due to the innate scarcity of addressing in-store audiences, the law of diminishing returns applies to supporting increasing pools of inventory and infrastructure.
  4. Atypical Behavioral PatternsLarge-scale events effect consumer behavior and require algorithmic adaptation and iteration. What works on a typical Friday will not likely produce the same levels of accuracy or success on Black Friday or the Super Bowl when it comes to targeting, analytics, and performance (Rachit Srivastava wrote a great post on this topic).

Making Location Scale & Constructing Successful Campaigns

So given the known limitations, how do you make location scale to most effectively reach your audience and meet your campaign goals?

  1. Build a Strategic Audience PortfolioIn building your campaign, it’s important to develop a targeting portfolio that not only helps you to achieve your goals, but also hedges your risk and offers opportunities for some home runs. For instance, while targeting consumers that are in your brick-and-mortar locations is an exceptional component to any campaign, it shouldn’t be your entire campaign, as it may limit your scale and reach. As supplemental audiences in your portfolio, why not try conquesting those who have visited a competitor’s location in the past and also targeting locations that consumers are likely to visit before reaching your stores?Additionally, it’s worth noting that growth in mobile commerce is outpacing both e-commerce and in-store sales. Why not build that into your campaign strategy as well? Given that not all consumers will be doing their shopping in-store this year, adding line items for in and out-of-home audiences with affinities for your products can help capture mobile or online commerce in addition to helping drive brick-and-mortar traffic.
  2. Utilize Data Intelligence, Not Data SetsThere are a lot of flawed and incorrectly attributed location data sets out there and unfortunately a lot of folks are using the same ones. When dealing with large amounts of spend, especially over short periods of time, invest in a partner who invests their own time and resources in data aggregation, intelligence, quality, and analytics. There’s a reason why Apple’s initial mapping foray met so much criticism – location is a lot harder than it seems.
  3. Plan Ahead & Close the Feedback LoopAt PlaceIQ, we’ve plotted billions of points of information against our patented location analysis platform to derive an intuitive, audience based understanding of the world around us. In preparation for large-scale, event-based campaigns, we reference previous campaigns and data sets with billions of data points and comparable conditions to adapt our expectations, rather than, say, a panel of a few thousand users (Extra Credit Reading: Why We Need to Do Better than Panels, Focus Groups and Surveys).

The holidays can be a very stressful time for many brands and advertisers, but they really don’t have to be. Significant scale and profitable results can be achieved by intelligently targeting your ad spend through strategically built audience compilations and being flexible with iteration. When it comes to event-driven targeting in mobile, thoughtful planning and leaning on data-driven insights can make the difference between celebrating an innovative and successful campaign and standing still while your competitor does.

PlaceIQ’s Audience Series sets out to highlight the importance of segments in the advertising world. As the pioneer of mobile’s application to location intelligence, and leaders in the mobile audience field, PlaceIQ has the knowledge you need. Key audience experts from each PIQ department — from engineering, to data science, to sales — will tackle a new topic to give a 360-degree view on this vast, ever-changing industry.