How Do We Think about Location Once Location Is Everywhere?


In the category of half-formed thoughts . . . I see two things going on with location at a high level in the market. First, many marketers and brands still don’t “get” location. Either they don’t see it as relevant to them –it’s something for SMBs — or, if they do, they’re having trouble “operationalizing” location-based marketing.

Evidence of the latter comes in the form of recent reports and research from SIM Partners and others.

Paradoxically location is also becoming a more routine part of digital media and advertising. It’s being used to help define audiences for later targeting, for personalization of apps, for attribution (online to store). In some cases location is explicit (e.g., AdWords location extensions); in others it may be hidden or in the background (active “auto intenders” as defined by people who’ve visited dealer lots in the past month).

In the programmatic world, which is gaining momentum, location is simply one data point among many being used to define and target audiences. Location is almost a check-box.

There are predictions from BIA/Kelsey and others about location-based ad spending becoming an increasingly large component of overall ad spending. As I’ve written in the past this begs the question: What is a “local” or “localized” ad?

Location can obviously can have a significant impact on ad performance in many situations. It may also be the most important component of a marketing campaign (e.g., driving foot traffic to retail or local stores). However if, as is increasingly the case, location is automated (e.g., AdWords location extensions, which is a key to broader adoption; or if location is simply a proxy for other values or just one of several targeting variables, how does that affect how we think about and discuss location?

Will location matter, will it continue to be a meaningful category or will it simply become one of many audience targeting techniques?

I may not have entirely captured my thoughts here. But there’s something interesting in considering a future in which location is a routine component of most digital media campaigns — a check box or subsumed merely as one audience targeting parameter in a longer list of targeting variables.

How does all this strike you? Am I making sense? Do you agree we’re moving from a place where many people don’t “get” location to one where location is a constant in campaigns but largely handled by automated systems in the background?

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3 Responses to “How Do We Think about Location Once Location Is Everywhere?”

  1. Street Fight Daily: Google Eyes Hotel Search, China’s New Ridesharing Monopoly | Street Fight says at

    […] Do We Think about Location Once Location Is Everywhere? (Screenwerk) Greg Sterling: Paradoxically location is becoming a more routine part of digital media and […]

  2. Scott Barnett says at

    I agree that location will become more constant, but it needs to get past the “creepy” factor that people feel like they are being watched and/or recorded.

  3. Simon Mills says at

    We are being approached by an increasing number of marketers and brands who very much ‘get’ location and who want more than beacons or pin in a map  (i.e. shout at everyone either inside or outside of this store right now).

    Geowave, our location based behavioural platform is helping app owners to operationalise location by using real life behavioural insight and targeting that makes location based advertising a tremendous success. From powering a hyperlocal mobile ad platform for UK publishers to winning awards for best use of mobile marketing.

  4. Greg Sterling says at

    Are you primarily using location for audience segmentation and behavioral/re-targeting. Or are your customers doing geofencing?

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