Location. Everyone knows location continues to be a central part of mobile advertising's value proposition, and also an area where ad buyers, ad sellers, and the Interactive Advertising Bureau are still working to unlock and reveal its full potential. IAB members have been talking with us over the past several months about ways that we can best support their efforts to direct and grow this important part of the mobile landscape. Here are some of the things that the IAB, and the market, need to focus on to better harness location.
"Location" Does Not Always Mean "Local." While some people equate "local" and "location," in reality the types of marketer that should be interested in using location data, and the kinds of ad campaigns that can benefit from location-relevance, extend beyond "local" advertisers. Similarly, advertisers with a strong local presence don't necessarily need location data to seek out and deliver an attractive message to their target prospects or customers.
Learning From Experience. As marketers get better at tapping into location data to make their messages more interesting, relevant, and meaningful, there is a definite need for resources that enable others to learn from past experience. Last week, the IAB's Mobile Marketing Center published a compendium of mobile location use cases and case studies, which illustrates some of the lessons learned from successful (and a few not-so-successful) mobile ad campaigns that harnessed location. We intend to augment this collection of case studies over time, so that the document grows and evolves as members submit new examples of their work.
Quality, Consistency, and Transparency. Even as marketers get closer to mastering location as a way to build attention and relevance, the location data itself may be getting shakier. In mobile buys via ad exchanges, location data are becoming widely available - and help to increase effective CPMs. However, in those instances where the ad opportunity is presented out of its publisher context, the sources of those data and their accuracy are becoming a matter of concern. Some exchanges are adding an additional variable beyond latitude and longitude to identify the source of the location data, which could be device-based GPS, cell tower, or inferred based on the billing ZIP code or other approximate data.
However, there's a real need for greater consistency around how location data gets exposed, passed, reported, and protected, and greater transparency on the sell side so buyers can trust they're getting ad opportunities based on reliable, precise, and accurate data (or paying less accordingly).
Ensuring Consumers Are Clued In. Another vital part of unlocking location's value is making sure that consumers are aware of and comfortable with how their data are being used. We've already put principles in place for this, as part of the Digital Advertising Alliance's Application of Self-Regulatory Principles to the Mobile Environment. These principles define transparency and control for advertising that uses "Precise Location Data" (defined as "data obtained from a device about the physical location of the device that is sufficiently precise to locate a specific individual or device"). This year we are working with the other organizations that participate in the DAA to create actionable guidelines for implementing those principles. These will ensure that consumers are never surprised by uses of location data to deliver relevant ads, and that they always feel they have a means to control it.
Getting to WHERE. None of this focus on location should imply that we've locked the WHO and WHEN aspects of mobile advertising - the industry still has work to do as far as ensuring that ad messages always reach people who will find them relevant, and we're still working toward identifying optimal "new prime time" moments of marketing receptivity. But mastering the art of WHERE is a critical key for unlocking the value of mobile in 2014 and beyond.