GeoMinds: Brand Engagement Starts At Home
Charles Smith, Managing Director UK, BlisMedia, explains why advertisers need to focus more on location and context when planning campaigns.
For a device that’s all about mobility, we seem to have developed a habit of using our smartphone more when we are staying still than when we are on the move. Recent research by Blis has shown that UK consumers spend more time on their smartphone browsing the web whilst at home than any other location – with 49 percent spending more than 20 minutes at a time.
This usage pattern has significant implications for advertisers. The evolution of mobile advertising was focused on the ability to reach consumers wherever they were, with data restrictions meaning that advertising on the mobile screen was focused more on immediacy than any depth. But as mobile devices of all shapes and sizes have become more ubiquitous, the ways in which we use devices has evolved and become more nuanced. The result is that that brands who want to drive meaningful engagement need to understand the context behind these usage patterns – with the home very much the starting point.
With most people now spending more time browsing the web on their mobiles than laptops or PCs, it can be tempting for advertisers to just aim for the lowest common-denominator and focus only on the mobile screen. But consumer behavior is far more granular; our smartphones are just one of the connected devices that we use on a daily basis. In fact, our research paints a picture of consumers right across the demographic spectrum being completely comfortable shifting between mobiles, laptops and tablets depending on context, location and mood. So the first and most important lesson is that if brands are to capitalize on the opportunity that this multi-device behavior presents, they must grasp the context in which consumers are using these different mobile devices, and apply this insight when developing advertising campaigns if they want them to be relevant and effective.
Of course, existing programmatic advertising can already serve different ad campaigns to people depending on their device and location. But despite the wealth of different parameters and targeting options the rise of programmatic technology has given us, understanding the context behind people’s behavior continues to be the missing piece of the puzzle. A better understanding of location is absolutely the key factor in building this contextual picture, and can even be a powerful predictor of future behavior. That’s why research firm Berg Insight sees location-aware advertising being one of the fastest growing areas, making up 39 percent of mobile advertising spend and 7 percent of all digital media spend by 2018.
In two years from now more than half of Britons will own an iPad, Kindle or similar tablet device – that’s on top of the 72 percent of the UK population who already own a smartphone. So being able to build an understanding of where and when someone may be using a particular device will become an even more crucial factor in driving brand engagement. Variables like whether someone is using a 3G, 4G, or wi-fi connection in conjunction with their physical location can have a huge impact on whether someone will click on an ad or not; if I am out shopping I don’t want to see video-heavy ads that will hog my bandwidth and slow down my browsing — especially if all I want to do is check prices, or post a photo of my new purchase on Facebook.
Any brand that wants to be successful needs to understand all these variables, and show consumers something that fits with both their behavior and location. And this is why brand engagement needs to start at home; it’s the place where we use our devices the most, and where we are most likely to respond to advertising. When brands get this right, the results are clear; 39 percent of consumers we spoke to said they were more likely to click on ads which took their location into account, and were twice as likely to engage with mobile advertising than if they were outside the home.
It’s not just immediate engagement with an ad (i.e. the initial click) that is affected by location and context. Our research shows that consumers are perfectly happy to transition to different devices depending on where they are and what they are doing to continue their brand journey. This context-dependent usage is a big reason why people choose to own multiple devices in the first place, with larger screened devices like laptops and tablets hugely favored for browsing at home, where the ability to connect over wi-fi means they spend longer and will happily receive more rich-media advertising and go from click right through to purchase. Our research found that whilst almost one-fifth of all smartphone-originated transactions took place whilst at home, 59 percent of these started on a mobile but were completed on another device.
It’s worth remembering that even in an advanced market like the UK, the amount spent on digital advertising has only just reached half of the overall advertising spend, and that mobile accounts for less than half of digital. So there is still a huge amount of growth ahead, which will no doubt be driven as much by the continued shift of our time onto mobile devices as much as the emergence of new technologies and creative approaches that will make this advertising more relevant, interesting, and rewarding for consumers. It’s clear from what the UK’s consumers have told us that the brands that will find the most success in this new landscape are the ones which best understand the context of when, where and how people engage with their content, and create unique, and valuable experiences that form a lasting connection.
*Charlie Smith is Managing Director, UK, BlisMedia. He manages the UK team of digital experts, and is responsible for commercial relationships and driving BlisMedia’s overall revenue. Charlie has grown the team from three to 12 alongside the company’s expansion, and plays an integral role in developing and launching BlisMedia’s market-leading products. Prior to BlisMedia, He co-founded his own multi-media agency at the age of seventeen, running award-winning campaigns for clients including Adidas, MTV and RedBull. He also worked at one of the world’s largest digital sports publishers where he managed new and existing client accounts.
**Editor’s Note: Our “GeoMinds” opinion series features posts written by outside contributors from all parts of the GeoMarketing community who want to share their views of the trends, issues, problems, and solutions changing the online-to-offline advertising and marketing landscape.