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3 Things You Need to Know Before Getting Started in Local Mobile Advertising

Executing a successful local mobile campaign requires planning, strategy and knowledge. Here are a few things to consider before you get started.
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Just as radio gave way to TV and newspapers gave way to the internet, the growing use of mobile phones offers new opportunities for delivering your company's message to potential customers. While the power of being able to reach exactly the right consumers in exactly the right location at exactly the right time may sound like an advertiser's dream, there are a lot of factors to consider to get a local mobile advertising campaign right.

Mobile-marketing experts from heavy hitters such as the Weather Channel and AT&T AdWorks shared their thoughts on the many factors that go in to a successful localized mobile ad campaign at a panel discussion at this week’s Street Fight Summit in Manhattan. If mobile advertising is a whole new world for your business, here are three things beginners should familiarize themselves with. 

Related: Making Mobile Marketing Work for Your Business

1. Junk location data. There are different forms of location data: automatic geo-tagging from a wireless device or user-inputted data such as a ZIP code. Make sure you know which data you are looking at. A lot of the location data that are being used are inaccurate, according to Monica Ho, vice president of marketing for xAd, a mobile-local ad network that manages billions of location-specific ad requests monthly. The most common ZIP code entered is 00000 -- because savvy consumers don't want to be tracked. Geo-tagged or lat/long (latitude and longitude) location data is obviously more accurate, so basing your campaign on that data is more likely to reach more people. 

2. Geofencing. Geofencing is a marketing technique that allows advertisers to select a virtual fence around a certain geographic area that will send potential customers an alert on their mobile device when they walk into that area. It's opt-in -- potential customers have to choose to share their location by turning on the GPS setting on their device, but there is a lot of potential.

Your message can be as straightforward as a coupon or it can be a broader relevant advertising message. If it's relevant to your brand, you may also consider geofencing an event such as conference or sporting event so that anyone with an enabled mobile device who enters that stadium or convention hall will get your targeted ad.

Related: 5 Lessons in Local Mobile Advertising from Big Brands

3. The trade-off between reach and precision. Keep your expectations of reach realistic. If you want to reach women age 18-25 who are interested in skateboarding within a certain ZIP code, you can't also expect your ad to reach thousands of people.

Since you can't have it both ways, evaluate the trade-off between precision and reach. Sometimes reaching only five people is what you want. Other times you may want to expand your net a little -- if customers are within one-and-a-half miles of your store instead of one mile, are they really that much less likely to come in?

Things change quickly in mobile advertising, so keep in mind that your strategy may have to evolve with the medium. Even the definition of what is a mobile device is changing. "We are questioning if we will even be using the term mobile 18 months from now," says Sharon Knitter senior director of mobile for, a consumer car-sales site. "It may be in home versus out-of-home," she explains, since many people use their mobile device at home.

And local mobile advertising doesn't just have to mean smartphones and tablets. Eric Hadley, senior vice president of sales strategy and marketing for the Weather Channel, mentioned his company's use of cable technology that allows them to target local TV audiences.

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