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Historical Use Of Geo-Data Lifted Walmart, Denny’s Store Visits

The MMA offers more evidence that location-targeting is no longer just for “in-the-moment,” but is being used to inform broader campaigns.

walmart fab 5Consumers’ location information is no longer just a tool for “in the moment” targeting, says the Mobile Marketing Association, as major brands such as Walmart and Denny’s have used geo-data to create contextual audience profiles to help drive in-store traffic over time.

The MMA has released expanded data from three 2014 campaigns that offer a basic template for strategically targeting consumers at specific points in their day, not just when they’re within close proximity of a brand’s store or restaurant.

Two of the campaigns from location ad marketplace xAd on behalf of Denny’s and Goodwill have been covered previously by GeoMarketing. As we found back in March, xAd’s location ads for Denny’s generated a 34 percent rise in visits at the fast casual restaurant chain, while the geomarketing provider’s campaign for the non-profit service center resulted in 13,000 additional visits to Goodwill donation centers nationwide for a 43 percent lift in in-store action.

Attention, Walmart mobile shopping.
Attention, Walmart mobile shopping.

Walmart’s Mobile Defense Is Good Offense

The new information on Walmart, however, is instructive on several fronts. As the nation’s largest retail chain, Walmart’s influence on its media partners as well as its rivals is significant. The company’s full embrace of geo-targeting as part of its full ad strategy is likely to push agencies to incorporate geo-data to greater extent. To be sure, over the past year, Target has sought to heighten its omnichannel stance in the face of challenges from the likes of Walmart.

The MMA’s look at Walmart’s effort to use location as a deeper factor influencing its marketing begins in August 2014, when the discount chain launched its Savings Catcher program. At its heart, the Savings Catcher concept of automatically checking competitors’ prices and crediting the difference back to the consumers after they scan their receipt was intended as a direct defense against showrooming.

Aside from preventing shoppers from using their mobile phones to buy the same products either online or at a rival brick-and-mortar retailer, Walmart’s mobile strategy for Price Catcher also worked as a good offense by examining mobile shoppers’ location patterns and targeting smartphone ads based on that past behavior.

The campaign was aimed broadly at consumers 18-49. The goals was to generate awareness of the unique program and mobile app, and “establish Walmart as retail’s price leader,” the MMA’s report noted. To make that happen, the company engaged in a full cross-media campaign, which included both proximity and audience targeting.

“By delivering messages to those that had visited the retailer in the past and targeting them wherever they might be (audience targeting), Walmart increased the impact for the same ad unit over standard mobile display and drove favorable price perceptions but also Store Visitation Lift,” the MMA said.

"A feature of mobile measurement is the ability to examine the influence of advertising delivery on foot traffic to a store location," the MMA said in a previous report. "In this analysis, we found that location targeting also drove verified foot traffic, with location ads, producing a significant lift vs. control."
“A feature of mobile measurement is the ability to examine the influence of advertising delivery on foot traffic to a store location,” the MMA said in a previous report. “In this analysis, we found that location targeting also drove verified foot traffic, with location ads, producing a significant lift vs. control.”

Walmart also found that using expandable ad units, which included more details about the service and “localized creative,” which showed a smartphone user’s distance to a store, produced higher than average store traffic.

As the MMA found in its initial study (PDF) of Walmart’s combined use of audience targeting and proximity marketing, “This approach proved to be 1.5x more impactful than audience targeting, and far more effective than when no location targeting was used. More importantly, considering the current pricing, proximity targeting was a great deal in terms of the relationship of impact to cost.”

“Sophisticated buyers can benefit from an understanding of the underlying influences and techniques in using location to enhance audience targeting, in order to understand optimal formats and reasonably weigh the value that location-based audiences can provide,” the MMA concluded. “There are now more possibilities than ever before for marketers to create a truly targeted and engaging advertising experience.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.