Christophe Collet, CEO of S4M, provides insights into the best practices for a mobile-to-store campaign.
For digital marketers, drive-to-store strategies have long been the ultimate promise of the mobile channel. Brands, big and small, are swarming to exploit this strategy as the secret weapon to boost their business outcomes. After the recent user outrage with AccuWeather’s iOS app about abusive location data collection, marketers need to get up to speed on where their location data is coming from and the best practices for successful mobile drive-to-store campaigns.
User consent should not be swept under the rug
If there is anything that advertisers should take away from the AccuWeather debacle, it is that user consent is no joke. With the new European GDPR regulations that must be put in place next year in 2018, users must grant consent for data collection or location sharing explicitly. Websites and apps have the responsibility to declare to users that their data will be collected for advertising purposes without any misinterpretations. Mobile apps cannot collect user information via third-party SDKs without user consent. The contentious method of continuous collection of geolocation data in the background requires explicit consent. Furthermore, in the new Apple iOS 11, apps will need to ask explicit permission from users if they wish to collect location data in the background when the app is not in use.
Advertisers, as well as third-party location data vendors, need to respect this new legislation. Often multinational brands have so many different players in their digital media supply chain, it is easy to overlook the issue of user consent. It is imperative that brands choose to work with vendors that respect mobile end-users and the location data collection methods.
Location data is vital, know where it’s coming from
So, what happens when users don’t give consent to sharing location data with publishers? This is when advertisers need to be wary of ‘IP reversing’, a fraud practice that originated from the early desktop era now resurfacing in mobile campaigns. Without user consent, publishers will only have access to an IP address, so to monetise their inventory they will reverse the IP address into location data for the market. Location data generated this way is not precise and does not provide an exact location, only a large area. Also keep in mind, IP addresses for mobile devices are allocated randomly by network antennas. This means the location data can put the user in Chicago when they are really in L.A. To get ahead of potential fraud practices, advertisers should use a mobile-first DSP with proprietary geolocation filtration algorithms.
Smartphone location data is determined by X-Y coordinates. It comes from a combination of network based techniques and hybrid positioning systems. Network-based techniques are dependent on the phone’s service provider network infrastructure and concentration of cell base stations. Hybrid positioning systems depend on a combination of wi-fi, Bluetooth signals and the GPS satellite location services of the device. These collection methods combined provide the most precise user location data. Test the position accuracy on your smartphone, if the wi-fi or network signal is deactivated, your phone location is not as precise. Regardless of the vendor, all location data is collected via the ‘Location Service’ in smartphones, which is an algorithm to calculate the X-Y coordinates. Mobile advertisers should have a full understanding of where the location data is coming from and be wary of different vendors promising 100 per cent location accuracy.
Define attribution methods for drive-to-store campaign
The end goal of any drive-to-store campaign is to measure impacts from online mobile campaigns with visits into brick-and-mortar stores. Advertisers need to define concrete attribution metrics to evaluate their campaign successes to stay ahead of ad fraud practices. One simple ad fraud attribution method is linked to frequency capping. Let’s say a drive-to-store campaign for a UK supermarket is set at a capping of one to two frequencies per user while targeting a large audience – i.e. the Greater London area. With this strategy, the campaign report will show a significant number of users exposed visited the advertised supermarkets. However, industry research finds that 56 per cent of shoppers in the UK visit a supermarket at least once or twice a week. So, in this instance, how can advertisers distinguish if the visits to stores were the successes of the mobile campaign or just from shopper routines.
Hence, it is critical for advertisers to differentiate between the metrics ‘visits generated’ versus ‘visits measured’ in mobile campaigns. Mobile-to-store campaigns should follow very strict audience targeting guidelines and enforce brand recall with a frequency capping between five and 10 to avoid misrepresentation. The subtlety can make all the difference for evaluating the campaign’s impact. Counting ‘visits measured’ can be evaluated by a methodology of comparing a group of exposed and another of non-exposed users during the campaign. Advertisers can then compare these users’ presence in store locations and evaluate an uplift to store visits among exposed users. Advertisers should also avoid any abuse via a third-party vendor that has not been accredited by an independent actor and who are in a position to be the judge and jury on campaign results.
What does the future hold for mobile drive-to-store campaigns?
Advertisers must find a way to work around the limits with technology today. It is not yet possible to calculate ROI in real-time from in-store purchases on a large scale. Not enough physical points of sales are equipped with the technology to link purchases with ad campaigns. Another limitation is that customer loyalty cards are slow to be digitalised and linked to individual smartphone devices.
However, the rise of mobile payments will be quick to close this gap and make measuring ROIs in real-time a reality. The ultimate goal for advertisers would be to link each unique device IDs that engaged with digital mobile campaigns to purchases in stores. Today, the key to successful mobile drive-to-store campaigns is to be able to measure the foot traffic impact in real-time and optimise the digital campaign performances during the campaign. Advertisers should be able to optimise based on different creative formats, publishers, physical contexts and moments of the day to urge mobile users into stores with these insights.
For brands embracing mobile-to-store digital strategies, this is a must-have to reinforce customer loyalty around its store proximities. The true challenge for advertisers is to have a proper understanding of the technology ecosystem linked to their campaigns to have the peace of mind that they are respecting end-users and relying on concrete location data.