Hyperlocal and 2017’s other big mobile marketing trends

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Zeroing in

While mobile technology can be a path to going global very quickly, the latest mobile marketing trends show its most promising uses for a small business might also end up being hyperlocal: connecting to the one consumer in the supermarket who is ready to buy your brand as she walks up and down aisles consulting the list on her phone. Or presenting a coupon to a mobile worker walking down the street.

It’s important to decide who your customers are before you develop your strategy.

In the past 20 years, one technological revolution after another has altered the old game of brands trying to reach consumers. While “big data” theoretically makes it easier to target the “who” (women 25-49), advertisers have to move on to the “when” or the “where” if advertising spending is going to convert to sales. And if a cross-channel program isn’t careful, it will anger rather than delight potential customers.

The mobile marketing trends of 2017 (so far)

In fact, consumers have already told marketers the kinds of ads they don’t want on their mobile devices: ads that load slowly, use too much rich media and cause data charges to rise, interrupt a game, take over a page, or interrupt the reading experience.

Excluding those, here are the trends that define mobile advertising in 2017:

  1. It follows the customer from device to device.

  2. Ad spending remains low.

  3. Mobile commerce is just warming up.

  4. Geofencing is still effective.

  5. Success metrics remain elusive.

  6. Mobile still has different uses than desktop.

Let’s dive deeper into each trend.

1. Mobile advertising aims to follow the customer from device to device.

Mobile Marketing Trends RetargetingRetargeting is a key strategy for marketers, but mobile makes it tricky. Why? Because when a device is carried on the person, privacy concerns arise that are less important on desktop or even tablet. The mobile device knows your precise location all the time. And while retargeting is never a consumer favorite, on a mobile device it can feel like stalking.

2. Ad spending remains low.

Although you can build brand love with Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook ads, so far there are no hard metrics to see how well they work. Snapchat filters, for example, have decent uptake, but might not convert to sales. That’s why mobile ad spend is still low and mobile ads are relatively inexpensive.

3. Mobile commerce is just warming up.

Outside of in-app purchases for gamers, mobile commerce is only beginning to have its day in the sun. Current market research shows that there’s a great deal of mobile search, but that large purchases are still made on the desktop. For mobile, Amazon often functions as a search engine, as it now sells just about everything, and for a Prime customer, searching for and buying household items through Amazon search is easier than using Google and clicking to another site.


4. Geofencing is still effective.

However, for certain neighborhood businesses, geofenced information works, and Google AdWords and maps ads work well. Geofencing is targeting your ad to consumers in a certain location, and both Facebook and Google have this capability. Consumers search for “Chinese food near me” and “Starbucks near me,” as well as movies, dentists and other family services. Here’s a primer on how geofencing works.

5. Success metrics remain elusive.

For nearly half of mobile advertisers, results are inconsistent and unknown, partly because the customer experience is very different between mobile and tablet, and even among different phones. You can either design the experience as “click to call,” or you can measure cost per engagement if a video is sent to friends. But we are only beginning to develop metrics to tell us about viewability and engagement with mobile video.

6. Mobile still has different uses than the desktop.

The web is for planning your day, while mobile is for impulse, location, or time-driven decisions. The consumer is using the device to do something in real time, rather than planning to do something. How do you market to a consumer making a decision in real time on the fly?

The best marketers use location data married to information like weather data to reveal shopping patterns, lifestyle, and demographic insights, right down to the anonymized individual. Advertisers can also marry search data with location data and determine the right customer message.

For example, if it’s going to be warm in New York, perhaps Oscar Mayer should run its hot dog picnic ads. If you’re a national brand, you will juxtapose your global footprint with local information by measuring whether, if a given consumer is exposed to your ad, her device shows up at a retail location. In this way, a centralized ad campaign can generate leads for a local merchant.

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Francine Hardaway
Francine Hardaway, Ph.D, a serial entrepreneur, now runs Stealthmode Partners, a coaching program for startups in Phoenix, Arizona. A lifelong advocate for growing the entrepreneurial ecosystem, she failed with her first company, sold her second to Intel, and became an early adopter of technology and the internet. Through Stealthmode she has counseled and advised over 1,000 startups. She blogs regularly about the intersection of technology and humanity as well as startup culture at Medium, The Phoenix Business Journal, and the Huffington Post. She currently serves on the advisory boards of several startups, including Eldersense and StatSocial, and on the Board of Directors of SySTEM School, a STEM middle school for high needs kids.