Mobile advertising is so much more than location, location, location

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Shanil Chande, head of agency sales at TabMo UK, looks at the opportunities that exist for mobile advertisers who look beyond just location

Shanil Chande TabMoLauded by Kirstie and Phil as the ultimate criteria for property selection, location has, since the early days of smartphones, held a similar position of power when it comes to mobile advertising campaigns.

Historical and live location data has provided mobile sales houses with an instant justification for its inclusion as part of an overall plan during the channel’s meteoric rise. 

And there’s no doubt that location plays a huge role in the mobile data story. Being able to track and segment patterns in peoples’ whereabouts and ‘real-world’ behaviours provides advertisers with highly valuable intent signifiers which, when overlaid with other deterministic data sources, enhance the profile that can be built.  For example, knowing that a user visits high street coffee chains more than three times a week is probably more useful than search or browsing data for advertisers wanting to target coffee lovers, given very few people are likely to undertake searches that reveal the same behavioural intentions.

Is mobile a victim of its own (location-data) success?
All well and good.  But no-one needs reminding that this is a fast-paced industry and progress continues apace.  Sadly, the rhetoric around the data opportunities on mobile has not kept up – while location is key, for too long it has been the sole focus when in reality it is now only one element of the mobile advertising equation.  As a result, we often hear that because location doesn’t play a huge part in a campaign mobile isn’t being considered as an advertising channel.  This is frustrating to say the least.

Viewed in the context of the changes in the way people consume media, it is also short-sighted.  94 per cent of the UK’s adult internet population has access to a smartphone, with the equivalent desktop figure being 73 per cent (Source: Ofcom Adults’ Media Use & Attitudes 2018).  The average UK adult now spends 2:07 hours daily browsing on mobile as opposed to 1:56 hours on desktop (Source: eMarketer – Time spent with media 2017).

The mobile app opportunity
The shift to mobile is challenging for advertisers who previously relied heavily on cookie data for segmentation. But for those that are prepared to broaden their perception of what mobile can offer, there are also new opportunities to explore.

80 per cent of consumer interactions on mobile occur within an app (Source: analytics from TabMo’s DSP, Hawk).  This extends far beyond the wall-gardens of the ‘Big Five’ – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Whatsapp – helped in part by publishers mirroring the migration of users from desktop to mobile with new user-friendly app experiences.  Users access an average of 30 apps per month (Source: TechJury – Understanding the Modern App User), in the process providing advertisers with a whole new currency away from location data.

By analysing how frequently these apps are used and examining the range of other apps that have been downloaded, advertisers can start to build interest segments using a new methodology that can either supplement location segments or be used to A/B test against them to see which are most effective. In addition, given that taking out a smartphone contract requires the user to provide identification, advertisers with a vested interest in simple demographics can also utilise data from the telecoms companies to increase their on-target reach.

Moving mobile centre-stage
While there is much speculation about 5G, only time will tell just how much it will change the industry.  In the meantime, while location still remains a highly effective method of audience pooling on mobile there are a number of other signals (such as app usage and telco targeting discussed above, as well as offline and purchase data) that advertisers could and should be using to build their strategies.

Adopting these will finally help the industry move away from the misnomer that mobile is only relevant for location specific briefs – and in doing so will open it up as the highly effective, all-round advertising channel that it has the potential to be.