It’s that time of year again – marketers are allocating their budgets for the year ahead. But which channels should you be investing in to better connect with customers in 2016? 

According to eMarketer, mobile ad spend will top $100 billion worldwide next year, with 51% of digital advertising spend being allocated to this channel. With mobile usage growing, this device is  creating new opportunities for brands to connect with consumers on the go and, more importantly, ‘in the moment’ to ensure an engagement which can drive business.

Although most marketers see value in the mobile channel, many brands are just skimming the surface of what this channel can offer in terms of customer insights. This is where mobile location data comes into play; the insights it can uncover on consumer behaviour allow brands to make campaigns much more impactful. 

Location is the fuel behind mobile advertising. Why? Because it helps marketers to reach people not just based on ‘where’ they are, but by providing deeper insight on ‘who’ they are.

For example, impact will be limited if a female clothing retailer located miles away from a potential customer decides to advertise its new range to a male construction worker on his lunch break. He is not the right audience, nor is he in the right place at the right time. However, with information about a customer’s location, brands can reach particular audiences and use precise targeting to ensure they engage the people that are most likely to act. 

With that in mind, here are three reasons why marketers need to start investing in mobile location in 2016:

Mobile is one of the most effective online to offline connectors speaking directly to relevant consumers which can drive sales

The gap between online and in store has long been a pain point for retailers as data about the customer’s path to purchase is often lost when they move across channels. However, thanks to location insights, mobile has surfaced as the glue that can bind online and offline to create a seamless customer experience. 

Today’s on-demand culture means that customer buying journeys are increasingly made up of self-directed and unpredictable ‘micromoments’. Shoppers will often search for a product on their smartphone when on the go, but then visit a physical store to make the final purchase, for example. The findings of our latest UK Mobile Path to Purchase report support this, showing that 56% of consumers who research products on their phone actually finally convert in store. 

In Starbucks, for example, customers can now pre-order a hot drink online and pick-up in store, cutting down the steps within the purchase journey. But what about those customers that don’t plan to purchase a coffee? Sending a coffee lover the latest Christmas coffee blends while they are in close proximity during their weekend shopping on the high street could be the difference between a sale and them walking straight by. Location insight allows brands to use mobile to encourage sales on the high street, enticing shoppers indoors through timely targeting. Mobile’s ability to drive sales on the high street through digital is opening up huge revenue opportunities for brands. 

It offers increased accuracy and precision targeting

One of the major reasons brands may have overlooked advertising on mobile is due to the lack of sophistication in targeting, as well as limited accuracy and precision in measurement tools. These factors make it harder to justify the investment in the channel. However, location technology and advertising is helping to solve these problems.

Firstly, proximity targeting technology is now so sophisticated that it allows brands to understand real time, human footprints of shoppers. Marketers have never been able to get so close to their customers and understand their motivations for buying an item.

Secondly, programmatic technology is now available and is one of the most efficient ways for brands to leverage location with acute accuracy. The ability to optimise advertising strategies based on data and provide contextually relevant experiences through programmatic is allowing brands to create more targeted strategies and drive results. It means brands can connect with customers at the right time, in the right place and with the right content.

This improved approach to targeting and increasing mobile user consumption is driving discussion in the advertising industry as to whether location data holds the key to mobile ROI. For a long time mobile has been a sticking point for measurement and attribution as cookies don’t work on mobile, this is why location is now being considered the new ‘real-world’ cookie. With better measurement on mobile, marketers will find it easier to justify their budgets, showcase their results and ultimately prove their contribution to the business. 

It can strengthen customer relationships and loyalty to a brand

An important aspect of any marketing channel is that it will not only draw the customer in once, but will encourage them to return. Using location allows marketers to target their audience based on context, ensuring communications are relevant and timely. 

Over time, data and insights collected from location will allow marketers to ensure customers feel valued as individuals because of the personal experience that is provided. This builds a connection with the brand and ultimately, a sense of loyalty. As marketers are catering for an increasingly mobile-savvy customer, we expect to see location become an integral part of any engagement strategy. 

For most people, no matter where they are, their smartphones are never far from arm’s length. As a result, 2016 is the ideal time for marketers to leverage the power of mobile location data not only to impact their campaigns, but to connect with audiences in a more meaningful and personal way.

The nature of the smartphone is empowering marketers to connect with their customers better than ever before. As a result, next year we will see location grow to become a marketing category in its own right to rival search and social for marketing spend.