Once upon a time, companies put advertisements on television. The formula was simple: big money = big viewing share. People saw commercials and responded accordingly, or so the thinking went. It wasn’t a bad approach.
Today, TV ads – while still powerful – are for many organizations akin to buying a refrigerator for the box: effective but wholly unnecessary. The proliferation of smartphones and general rise of the Internet have made it easy to run a successful campaign without resorting to Super Bowl-level pricing. The best messaging efforts are no longer necessarily seen by everyone, just the people who matter.
On the front lines of localized targeting is ThinkNear, an LA/NY based-startup that helps organizations use mobile display ads to reach consumers at precise locations – within 100 meters if desired. Advertisers can even see where clicks are coming from. The implications of this are impressive:
– Off-hour influence: People may close their computers at the end of the workday, but phones are checked compulsively. The post-work period is a great time to make your voice heard.
– Hyper-local reach: DC, like so many major cities, is extremely diverse in just about every respect. Income, race, and personal interests often vary, literally, from block to block. ThinkNear’s precision allows you to target these select pockets for maximum response.
– Situational targeting: Rather than pursuing a specific group of people, situational targeting optimizes your message by placing it in a particular context, reaching consumers “based on where they are, what they are doing, and what is happening around them,” as the ThinkNear website proclaims. A rental car advertisement might appear in an airport; a banner for umbrellas when it starts raining. This is probably the most unique – and valuable – aspect of the company. Advertisers can respond to consumer desires in real time. Focus groups become moot when you’ve got FourSquare.
Situational targeting exemplifies a notable shift in marketing today and presents new opportunities for advocacy communication. “Mobile” – a term which has moved from the physical object to the app-hungry consumer to the advertiser – is now less a user convenience than a distinct means of conveyance. Definitely something to consider the next time you play Words With Friends.