With more than 16 years of experience in digital marketing and advertising, I’ve watched the industry morph and evolve time after time. A lot has changed, but the most significant disruptions have come as a result of technology catching up with consumer behavior, allowing marketers to be more efficient. The biggest evolutionary quantum leap in our industry to date is happening right now. Mobile is finally unlocking for the real world what pixels and cookies did for the digital landscape.

Current trends indicate that more than 90 percent of commerce is still happening in the physical world, but marketers want the opportunity to get in front of consumers that are spending more time in front of screens. If you’re in the restaurant, spirits, automotive, packaged goods, grocery, consumer electronics, and any number of other industries, the opportunity to understand the consumer journey has never been better. The next frontier for marketers will help bridge the digital and physical worlds together.

There are three emerging trends that allow for this understanding: Data, Location, and Cross-device targeting.

Data

The next great content and ad creation in mobile is going to be driven by data that allows marketers to create personalized experiences. Consider how much the smartphone knows about a consumer. The ability to match a person to the place they’re in can personalize the user experience and be mutually beneficial for the marketer and the consumer. For instance, the Delta Airlines app allows travelers on the go to effortlessly manage their experience. TGIFriday’s app recognizes their most loyal customers through the equivalent of the “Digital Handshake”. Limitations in desktop or the physical world make it difficult to target to the individual. But consumers prefer content that speaks to them based on actual real-world interests and intent, and it bodes particularly true with respect to proximity.

Location

Proximity leads to location. The places a person has visited speaks volumes about who they are and what interests them. Knowing people’s real world behavior is more informative than things they said they liked to do years ago. The ability to reach consumers when they’re near a particular place is incredibly powerful, but we need to think of location in terms of defining a target audience, not just a way to geo-target. We can use location to understand the person you’re trying to connect with by understanding the places that consumer visits every day.

Location will be a critical way to effectively reach the right customer at the right time and right time. BIA/Kelsey found that location-targeted advertising is set to be more than half of the ad dollars spent on mobile by 2018. Large agencies have also proven the importance of location. Jon Anselmo, SVP & Managing Director of Innovation at Starcom MediaVest, recently told eMarketer that “geo-targeting and the specific latitude/longitude locations are going to become central to mobile advertising.  Those are the things that allow us to craft more personalized messages and experiences for consumers.”

Cross-device targeting

These days, no consumer is only looking at one screen and marketers should be trying to reach their audience across multiple devices. We can learn about a customer’s journey from the places a person has visited, their daily habits, and the research they do for a large purchase. With more information, you tell a story across multiple screens to ensure that a personalized message is in front of a person at the right time and place. eMarketer’s predictions for 2015 mentioned cross-device targeting as an emerging trend. Advances in user identification, retargeting, and location data will boost marketer confidence and spending. When this all comes together, you have the opportunity to achieve the holy grail of bridging the digital and physical world.

This year, I challenge marketers to think about data, location, and cross-device targeting and examine how much of their budget is inefficiently spent on legacy platforms and tactics. If brands and agencies are not taking advantage of first-party data, they are not looking at location as a way to understand their consumer. Marketers should work with partners to figure out the journey across multiple screens; if not, they are missing the opportunity where technology has finally caught up to the way we, as consumers, live our lives and ultimately decide on the products purchased.

Steven Rosenblatt, Chief Revenue Officer at Foursquare, will be joining other senior execs at Mobile Summit and participating in a fireside session on managing user identity across devices. More details on the sessions at Mobile Summit and be found on the event’s agenda page. Space is extremely limited — we’ve only got seats for a total of 180 executives — but it’s not too late to apply for one of the remaining seats.

Steven oversees strategy and implementation of Foursqure’s monetization products. He built the company’s business marketing and global, national and local sales teams, and helped design the Foursquare Audience Network (FAN), an independent advertising platform that uses Foursquare’s data.

 

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