This morning local-mobile ad network xAd released its Q2 Insights Report. The report focuses on trends related to “geo-conquesting” on its network. In March, xAd told me, among “national [xAd] advertisers that are leveraging place-based targeting, which is 67% . . . 9 out of 10 are doing conquesting.”
As a general matter xAd’s advertisers are using location in two very distinct ways:
- Audience targeting (where location is a mechanism for developing audience profiles)
- Geo-fencing/geo-precise targeting (where conquesting is a subset)
In the audience targeting category, location is largely in the background. This technique is now quite common across several mobile ad networks. With geofencing/geo-conquesting the campaign is all about specific locations.
In its Q2 report xAd contrasts the top ad categories on its network (left) with the top geo-conquesting categories (right).
Overall xAd’s ad inventory, the company says, outperforms mobile ad-industry norms and benchmarks — both in terms of clicks and conversions (measured in different ways). The figures below reflect only CTRs, which is a generally poor metric for mobile ad performance.
Despite the appearance in the graphic below (left) that geo-conquesting doesn’t perform as well as general location-targeted display, secondary actions data (post-click) reflect they typically outperform conventional location-targeted ads — which in turn outperform regular mobile display ads.
In a case study involving Outback Steakhouses xAd showed that engagement and intent to buy (as measured by landing page store locator lookups) was significantly higher with geo-conquesting ads. The company said, “Post-click activity was highest on the geo-conquested portion of the campaign showing an 11% lift on conversion actions such as access to a store locator.”
The Outback campaign used 5 and 10 mile geofences around various competitor restaurant locations and sought to stimulate visits from loyal customers and potentially change behavior among those considering other causal dining establishments. Below are examples of ad creative from the campaign:
Geo-conquesting display ads can tap into and leverage user intent in a way that’s not unlike search, which is very interesting. For example, if I’m “out and about” and simply shown a generic mobile display ad (say for a Ford Fusion) it’s not unlike TV: interruptive and not necessarily related to my intent/interests at the time, although retargeting can make those ads more “relevant.”
However if I’m on my way to a restaurant and I see a compelling offer from another, comparable restaurant my state of mind may be very different. I’m hungry and expressing a desire to eat — my movement through the world is the equivalent of a search query. Thus I may be highly receptive to the competitor’s message. Now it’s true that being within 5 miles of an Outback Steakhouse doesn’t mean I’m actually going to eat there; I could be going to a store nearby. But you get the distinction I’m making.
One of the things that xAd told me is that Outback measures in-store lift from these ads and so the company isn’t relying on clicks or even secondary actions to determine ROI. They’re comparing same-store sales before and after, as well as using other techniques.
As I’ve written in-store visits and sales lift will be increasingly the norm with mobile ads except in contexts where the ads are truly like TV and simply trying to generate awareness for a product or brand.