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As part of The Digital Trading Awards Programme we hear from Steve Wing, VP, Mobile and Marketplace – International at Rubicon Project and Imran Khan is ‎Head of Programmatic & Partnerships at xAd, Inc.

In the marketing world, we often hear the consumer journey talked about as a series of ‘moments’. This is the very real notion that we all live our lives on a multi-channel, nonlinear journey that can be broken down into multiple instances of consumer intent.

As part of this journey, we’re constantly looking for the products we need – from purchasing our first car, to buying a cup of coffee – to complete every moment.

Understandably for marketers, these moments carry a lot of weight. They represent the times when a consumer is most open to adopt, acquire, or consume a product or service, and are the ideal opportunity to deliver a relevant call to action.

Taking advantage of these opportunities means tapping into multiple data sources that encompass everything from demographic and psychographic, to contextual and search. But of all these data sources, nothing is more potent for connecting with a consumer at exactly the right time than location.

From mobile to mobility

Location-enabled advertising isn’t new, it’s been talked about and practiced for some time. But the technology is really starting to catch up to allow marketers to take full advantage.

The proliferation of smartphones – almost 60 per cent of people in the UK now own one – is of course playing a significant role in driving this growth. Think about the last time you checked into a restaurant on Facebook, tagged the bar you visited with your friends on an Instagram picture, ordered an Uber, or even looked for nearby ‘matches’ on Tinder. Location data is holding increased value as a currency for consumers and brands alike, especially with smartphones being the one device that comes with us everywhere.

And the mobility of these connected devices makes them the most versatile communication channel of all. They offer the chance to mine real-time insights based on a consumer’s location. If search is the greatest measure of consumer intent online, then location has to be the ultimate measure of intent in the real world.

Choose your moments

So, just how sophisticated have location targeting capabilities become? Advances in and geo-fencing means we’re now able to track a consumer right down to the building he or she is in and serve ads when it’s most relevant in their journey. xAd’s Blueprints™ technology, for example, allows it to draw borders around specific buildings and then match that back to signals from mobile devices, in real-time.

KFC used xAd’s location-based technology to promote its new burrito product range and drive additional store visits. The campaign successfully drove nearby consumers into KFC stores through proximity targeting and conquest competitor locations.

This technology is helping xAd to build up a huge real-world database – 100 million locations and counting. Each location is tagged with keywords such as “fast food lovers,” or “car showrooms,” that marketers buy to target specific groups of consumers with mobile ads.

You can, for example, set the parameters of a campaign to only zero in on consumers who have actually walked into a car dealership, rather than those merely searching for luxury cars online. Buying location-based mobile ads is now as easy as purchasing a search campaign, but it is far more effective at identifying the crucial moment in the purchase journey.

xAd’s recent partnership with Rubicon Project, which now brings its unrivalled real-time programmatic insights and multi-channel capabilities, means the location proposition becomes even more powerful.

Opportunities on the horizon

The power of location as a marketing tool uncovers the potential to marry advertising with hyper targeting across multiple media types. Out of Home, for example, is a particularly exciting area. Rubicon Project has announced key OOH partnerships with the likes of Bitposter, Captivate and Adspace to make this cocktail of technology, data, location and OOH advertising an exciting proposition. Mobile and location have the potential to extend OOH campaigns, particularly as more billboards become increasingly digitised.

The challenge is creating a system where the data from mobile, location and OOH speak the same language. At the minute the three areas are still acting in siloes, but there are positive signs this is beginning to change. Clear Channel recently announced it was partnering with AT&T to track people’s travel patterns and behaviours through their mobile phones.

There’s also the fact that some technology providers don’t offer the level of accuracy they should do, relying on cellular towers that are only accurate to within a mile. That’s why it’s so crucial to work with an ad partner with the capability to target consumers within locations and at scale; otherwise you risk targeting massively inaccurate audiences.

The location awakening has only just begun to take off, and with the technology evolving so quickly it won’t be long before the marketing world can use this incredible tool to its full potential. We’re already seeing the tide turning this year – the 2016 Global Mobile Survey, by ExchangeWire Research in association with Rubicon Project, found that 75% of brand buyers and over a quarter (27%) of agencies predicted that between 81-100% of their mobile buys would be location-enabled in 2016.

If marketing moments are the new battleground for brands, then location data will undoubtedly become one of the most important weapons in a marketer’s arsenal.

View the entire article on The Drum.