The article I got this quote from doesn’t note how the audience reacted to this statement, but I’ll give you my own reaction: Barry Lowenthal, who I’m sure is both very nice and very smart, is also very wrong. With more and more consumers on the go, and their phones often stashed in pockets or purses, it is time we started giving large-format, location-based ads the attention and investment they deserve.
Digital Marketing Since the iPhone
Although it seems like only yesterday that Steve Jobs announced the iPhone, we’ve been carrying smartphones for six years now. And we’ve come a long way in those six years. Where once “digital marketing” meant only cookie-driven banner ads and poorly-targeted opt-in email distributions, we’ve seen creative, interest-based ads appear on mobile devices as well. These are now engaging location-based audiences in a way that those other ads never could.
Although we call these devices we bring everywhere “phones,” they are really pocket-sized computers, possible of displaying, collecting, and sending more information in five seconds than the computer I had in elementary school ever could. And a large part of that information—a large part of what increasingly influences digital marketing today—comes from device, and therefore user, location.
Until now, that location information received from such devices has been leveraged largely for the delivery of ads on phones. If a phone is detected as being based in Cleveland, an ad for a restaurant in Cleveland (hopefully) will show up. But an ad on a mobile screen targets one user—and besides, that screen’s severely limited real estate can only display so much. Moving forward, we need to be thinking about how to target multiple users, with video, on a screen that’s too big to be ignored. This isn’t “nice to have”—it’s essential for all location-based marketers.
Reaching Consumers On-the-Go
The question is, would Mr. Lowenthal have described mobile as “nice-to-have”? My bet would be no. The appeal of mobile advertising from the very beginning—what differentiated it from online display—was that consumers could be reached outside, while going about their days in the real world.
The reason that capability is essential is because 95% of purchases still happen offline. Finding a way to be the last impression to reach a consumer close to the point of purchase, when he is making his shopping decisions, has been proven to drive foot traffic and sales far more effectively than a banner ad or online video served when a consumer is sitting at home or at work. For this reason, there’s no argument about mobile being a part of the media mix.
Location-based screens—big monitors in malls, gyms, or offices, for instance—are impossible to ignore and reach that very same elusive on-the-go consumer. If you agree that reaching a mobile audience is important, then by default these location-based screens should be part of the mix as well.
In spite of all of this, Mr. Lowenthal had a reason for calling location-based video merely “nice to have.” It’s only recently become possible to serve ads to these on-location screens in an intelligent manner. With the emergence of buying platforms and the availability of mobile location data on where consumers have historically been, these large-format, high-impact screens become addressable and targetable like never before. Clients can get from location-based video what they have come to expect from other digital media formats: efficiency, measurement and improved ROI.
So no, Mr. Lowenthal, if you’re putting together a digital media buy, location-based video is no longer just "nice to have, but easy to cut." It’s essential to any campaign you hope will engage a targeted audience with real results—results that will be expected by your clients.