Forbes’ Bruce Rogers: Without Location, Marketers Can’t Figure Out What Customers Want

"We've moved from marketing to people, to marketing with them, to marketing for them," Rogers said. "It's time to transform or die."

xAd CEO Dipanshu Sharma opened yesterdays MMA’s Mobile Location Leadership Forum with the claim that location will be bigger for marketers than search, and that location data is the key to figuring out what customers really want — and delivering it to them.

Forbes Media’s Bruce Rogers would agree. In his keynote, the chief insights officer and head of CMO practice asserted that, in his mind, location is the perfect tool for predicting intent — and for crafting customized messages that drive an in-store action.

“We’ve reached the point where consumers expect messages tailored for them based on where they are and what they need,” Rogers said. “The goal for marketers shouldn’t be to replace the offline experience with an online one, but to use mobile and location to enable a faster, more seamless path to purchase.”

GeoMarketing: One of the biggest things that we’ve been hearing today is that location is going to be bigger than search. Why does real-world location say so much about consumer intent?

Well, like the example I gave in the presentation: Just because my teenage son is searching for a Ferrari online doesn’t mean he can go to a dealership and buy one.

Really, real-time location is the thing that marketers always wanted to know but didn’t have the data for. Knowing where people are and what they’re [actually doing] makes a huge difference; we now have the opportunity to take advantage of that.

Really, it’s not new, this idea that having all of this [real-world] data about people is incredibly useful. It’s just new to be able to make it actionable.

Right. So, marketers are collecting all of this data, and it’s exciting. But how are they going to make it actionable?

My fear… well, I don’t know if fear is the right word, but here’s what I’m thinking about: My concern for marketers is that they will use this data to bludgeon people with advertising. That they will make it disruptive.

The opportunity we have is to capitalize on these moments in time, these “micro-moments,” but it needs to be relevant. We need to think about about customers first, and meeting customer interests, understanding them, meeting their needs, creating a service.

Keith Weed, CMO at Unilever, once said to me that we moved from an era of marketing to people — broadcast — to marketing with them — social — to now marketing for them. Marketing is a service.

The question is, how do you use [location] to create services that make people’s lives more convenient? If you don’t as a marketer, someone else will.

More importantly, consumers will find a way to disable your advertising, like with ad blockers. People don’t wake up in the morning thinking, “I wish I could see my next ad.” It needs to be for them. Location can help us figure out that right moment when something is really for them.

How do you achieve that kind of personalization and relevance at scale? 

It’s a huge challenge. The opportunity, it’s there. It’s what the technology has been maturing to be able to bring.

My actual vision for marketing in general is that you bring these things together — you bring the data around location, around your identity — and you match that to context where of you are in time and place, and then you can combine that with creative that is optimized for time and place.

That’s going to be automated, because it’s impossible to do at scale without it being automated. Platforms are starting to come together with artificial intelligence and machine learning to make that happen. To me, what will happen is marketers will go back to doing what they started with: understanding consumers better than anyone else, and crafting really compelling services for them.

Finally, our bonus question. What’s your favorite location?

My favorite location is Scotland.

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.