Right Here, Right Now: Local Advertisers and Mobile


graffiti_smallADOTAS – After everything we as marketers have heard about the rise of mobile search over the past year or so, I would’ve never thought I’d come across a stat like this:

Nearly 30% of U.S. marketers are “not sure” of the importance of optimized mobile marketing experience for consumers. (eROI, “The Current State of Social, Mobile & Email Integration,” July 2010)

It’s a worrisome figure, and it raises other concerns about the true perception of mobile marketing among marketers — in particular local search marketers.

My guess is that these same marketers, despite their uncertainty, have aided their clients in setting up mobile marketing campaigns. It’s also my guess that marketers who are sure of the importance of an optimized mobile marketing experience for consumers haven’t aided their clients in setting up mobile marketing campaigns (or at least not ones that can be optimized).

It’s time to bridge that gap.

Let the Data Speak For Itself

Let’s first consider the most recent mobile media numbers. According to comScore’s State of Internet Yellow Pages and Local Search study released at the end of last month, there are 8.2 million more mobile media users this year than last year. The number of smartphone owners increased by 85%, while the number of mobile internet browsers increased by 28% (30% of mobile owners now browse the Internet).

But from a local search perspective, the most exciting figure is that the number of mobile subscribers accessing mobile business directories has increased by 14% over the last year to 17.3 million.

Mobile and IYP Go Hand-in-Hand

Access to local content categories has grown rapidly over the year — business directories specifically have seen a 14% increase over the last year. This is excellent news for IYP advertisers (particularly given the recent developments surrounding Google’s experimentation with the layout of its local business listings) and speaks volumes for the immediate need to engage in mobile-friendly IYP campaigns.

Luckily that need can be easily fulfilled, as the major IYP publishers already have established mobile platforms – evidenced by the fact that the number of mobile ads for IYP brands has increased three-fold over last year.

Leveraging Local Mobile Searches

Recognizing the value in local-mobile marketing and its uncanny ability to lend itself to IYP advertising is one thing. Being able to leverage local-mobile searches is another.

Local-mobile searches do produce results — Kantar Media’s Compete reports that nearly one-third of smartphone users who search for local businesses via mobile end up visiting or calling the location. Furthermore, approximately one in three Android and iPhone owners has discovered at least two new businesses as a result of using local search apps on their phones.

Here’s how advertisers can be sure they’re truly optimizing these searches:

Text alerts: The idea behind the text alert is simple and doesn’t require much explanation. Sonic, REI and American Eagle Outfitters participated in a test text alert program earlier this year where customers received text alerts triggered by GPS location and time and saw 65% of those customers purchasing a product as a result of texts they received.

Location-based services: I’ve discussed location-based services like Foursquare before. Location-triggering clearly boosts consumer response, as demonstrated by the results Sonic, REI and American Eagle Outfitters saw with their location-triggered text alerts.

But location-triggering boosts consumer perception too — according to Mobile Marketer, 72% of consumers viewed location-based texts as positive due to increased relevance. Knowing that consumers are keen on location-triggered mobile advertising messages, the next logical step would be to integrate actual mobile search campaigns with location-based services.

Coupons: Perhaps coupons provide the best way to achieve this integration. Businesses participating on some location-based services already reward their top customers with offers and discounts.

This, compounded with the fact that consumers respond fairly well to mobile coupons (a study conducted by Insight Express showed that 10% of consumers said they had visited a store because of receiving a mobile coupon), demonstrates how coupons can easily lend themselves to just about any local mobile campaign.

Piecing It All Together

Imagine a mobile marketing campaign that blends all of the above elements together.

For example, say a consumer is shopping for a new pair of sunglasses. The consumer conducts an IYP search on their smartphone. One of the advertisers found in the search results has included a mobile coupon with their listing.

Upon clicking the coupon, the consumer receives an option to opt-in to future text alerts from the advertiser. Because the text alerts are location-triggered, the consumer receives updates about what’s happening at the advertiser’s store nearest to them.

While at the advertiser’s nearest store, the consumer engages the store on their location-based service account (82% of consumers use their handsets in stores, by the way), triggering a whole new wave of coupons and text alert possibilities… causing that initial mobile-local search to come full circle.

Be Sure of Mobile’s Importance

The above scenario is obviously conditional and could play out in an almost limitless number of ways, which is sort of the point. The options to realize local mobile search optimization exist and are plentiful.

Local advertisers who are willing to test and engage thoughtful and integrated mobile campaigns will keep pace with consumers — that willingness just needs to come now.


  1. This article engaged me, and in my opinion mobile marketing is most definitely the way forward. I for one can’t leave the house without my iPhone and even at this early stage I’ve already adopted mobile coupons as part of my daily life! I’ve been using a mobile application called Peekaboo Mobile. It uses the GPS capability on your smart phone to detect deals and coupons available all around you. I’m always in a rush so it’s very convenient for me to be able to check out the offers all around me at the push of a button and then redeem them by simply showing retailers the coupon on my phone! Check it out here http://peekaboomobile.com/

  2. So much of a consumer’s purchase is local. To be able to drive communications, ads and offers that are relevant and pertinent, right to wireless will build stronger brand loyalty and increase NFC transactions. This will be an effective way for local businesses to advertise, not just larger brands. New handsets like Droid and iPhone provide very visual, engaging brand delivery.

    This process will make computing in general, and location based marketing more ubiquitous, as mobile devices and NFC readers become more widely adopted.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here