Viva La Location...Data

May 12, 2018

There’s no denying it: location data is changing the face of advertising. The ability to analyze consumers’ movements and behavior in the real world, in conjunction with other data-sets that are available, is already creating advertisements that are more targeted, more sophisticated, and — most importantly — more effective.

Maybe you’re tired of hearing this, though; and maybe you’re not entirely convinced. After all, X-Mode is a company that specializes in location data solutions. It would make sense for us to only focus on stories that highlight the successful use of location in advertising campaigns. 

Is it possible that us in the industry are stuck in a bubble, convinced of the importance of a technology that isn’t quite as groundbreaking as we think?

I’m not here to cast aside skeptics of the location-data revolution. But I also don’t intend to downplay what I think is one of the most impactful changes to the industry happening today. Instead, I am going to let the results speak for themselves by highlighting a specific — and successful — campaign that integrated location data into online advertising.

I recently sat down for a phone interview with Kristie Moy, X-Mode’s Paid Social Account Manager. Kristie and the X-Mode Team recently partnered with a company called Fret Zealot to increase their brand awareness and improve online sales. Kristie and I talked about X-Mode’s strategy in the Fret Zealot campaign, the advantages of location data, and the future of online advertising.

Fret Zealot manufactures a gadget for guitar players; it sits on the frets, and uses LED lights to teach beginners how to play the instrument. It’s a fun, clever teaching tool for the post Guitar Hero generation, and is especially helpful to students who don’t have the time or money for a private instructor. Obviously, once Fret Zealot’s target audience hears about this product it is not a hard sell. But the company wanted to do a better job at finding that audience, and that’s where Kristie came in.

“We essentially created a partnership,” Kristie told me. “The respective CEOs [of Fret Zealot and X-Mode] decided that people who went to guitar stores across the country would be a good demographic to target online.” This is where X-Mode offered an advantage. With the aid of our always-on location data, Kristie was able to find customers who had actually been in guitar and music stores recently. “These were niche, specialty stores — customers who had been there would be clearly interested in the product,” Kristie said. “We then created audiences around that data, and then integrated that with our Facebook ads so we could drive website traffic and increase brand awareness.”

Driving more sales wasn’t quite as simple as just targeting these customers, however. 

Even after X-Mode’s location data helped Kristie reach her audience, the results still were not what she was hoping for. At this point it became a matter of good old-fashioned market research, as well as experimenting with different incentive structures. By tinkering with the ad copy and offering a special discount to website visitors, Kristie was able to turn a corner and start driving conversions. “We were able to drive 18 purchases within a week,” Kristie said proudly, “and the attribution was very consistently from our targeted audiences.”

This approach — combining location data and other, more traditional methodologies —  was one of my key takeaways from our conversation. In fact, when I asked Kristie what the advantages of location data were over other kinds of data, she hesitated to proclaim the supremacy of any one kind of data. “What we’re recommending to clients is a mixed approach,” she told me. “Not using just location data but combining it with other sets of data.” The audiences that X-Mode is able to create are invaluable, but they work the most effectively when combined with other marketing strategies.

Kristie certainly did not downplay the role that X-Mode’s audiences played, however. She spoke excitedly about the kind of ultra-sophisticated, targeted ad campaigns that companies like Fret Zealot have launched. “Advertisers are always trying to find ways to connect customers’ offline and online purchasing behavior,” she told me, and X-Mode’s audiences is one very effective way to accomplish that. She believes — as do many in the field — that this kind of advertising isn’t just better for companies, but also for the consumer. Imagine only seeing ads that are relevant to your actual preferences and buying behavior. 

The ad-blocker will be a thing of the past.

Kristie is optimistic about the role that location will play in the future of advertising. “It’s definitely changing the game,” she acknowledged. “We certainly realize the value of the data. There’s going to be a continual shift in the advertising space to have these more niche audiences.” This shift can be seen in small companies like Fret Zealot, who can use data to find audiences that otherwise may have never heard about their product. It is also becoming popular with larger, more established companies, who are looking for new ways to connect with their customers in the digital age. However they use it, more and more companies are adding location to their advertising arsenal. Kristie is excited to see where it will take the industry next. And so am I.

Joseph Green

Joseph is currently a student at Emerson College, where he studies Visual Media and Communication. As Content Creator, Joseph develops engaging content via blog posts, push notifications, and ad-copy. Joseph also draws upon his research skills to help contextualize the company's place within larger technological and social trends in the industry.

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