Targeted Mobile Shopping Ads Starting to Hit Home

by Net Future Institute on September 22, 2014

mp9004486951By Chuck Martin

The accuracy of location data has improved substantially recently with ads for mobile shopping now approaching location perfection.

Those are among the latest finding in a quarterly location tracking benchmark study that analyzes how well targeted ads are at reaching consumers at the right place.

This matters a lot for mobile commerce, since an ad targeted to a shopper’s phone near a certain store may not matter much if the person is really nowhere near that store.

In the last quarterly benchmark by Thinknear by Telenav, just about a third (34%) of impressions were accurate within 325 feet. The results were based on asking users to pull their GPS location data, which was then compared to the location where the ads supposedly appeared.

At that time and as astounding as it may seem, about one in five (20%) ads received were up to six to 60 miles off, as I wrote about here at the time (Mobile Shopping & Location, Location, Location).

The good news is that much has changed since then, from a location accuracy standpoint.

After analyzing 27 categories of apps, Thinknear found the overall location score increased from 49 in the last quarter to 55 now, with 100 being the perfect score.

The results are based on data from more than a billion ad impressions and location accuracy tests on more than 500,000 consumer experiences over the last quarter.

Based on intended location, some mobile advertising is still not that accurate, depending on the categories of distances, though local targeting seems to be improving.

In measuring the overall volume of ads by accuracy level, the study found the following accuracy rates in ad messages sent to mobile phones:

46% accurate within 325 feet or less (up from 34%)
16% accurate between 6 to 60 miles (down from 20%)
11% accurate outside of 60 miles (up from 7%)

The good news is that of the 27 categories of apps measured, the top five apps are quite good at location accuracy levels, with shopping leading the list. These are the location accuracy scores of the five leading app categories:

95% — Shopping. Apps that focus on commerce, both online and offline, including apps for deals, product search, coupons and product reviews
83% — Technology & Computing. Includes a mix of utility and technology content apps
80% — Social Networking. Texting, dating and video apps
77% — Weather. Apps that deliver weather information
78% — Society. A mix of meet-up, local social news and voice over IP apps

Location has become increasingly important so consumers can receive more contextual messaging based on where they are and what they likely might be doing based on that location.

In 2012 only about 10% of ad requests contained location data compared to 68% today, according to Thinknear.

With the addition of beaconing technology entering the marketplace, most notably at retailers, the accuracy level for shoppers should improve even more over time.

“This is not going to be a big issue in the long term,” said Eli Portnoy, president of Thinknear.

The promise of increased accuracy in local targeting is not that the mobile shopper will receive more ads or messages. Just those that are better.


Chuck Martin is Editor of the mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk column. He is the author of “Mobile Influence,” “The Third Screen,” and “The Smartphone Handbook.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute. Chuck Martin is a frequent Mobile Keynote Speaker and Mobile Marketing Speaker internationally. He also addresses Social Media in Mobile.


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