Location-based services: rocket fuel for your out of home marketing

602430_artists-concept-of-a-giant-domed-city-in-an-asteroid-crater-on-a-hypothetical-planetNot that long ago, out of home advertising consisted merely of large signs along freeways, posters on various structures and vehicles within cities, and displays appearing at public venues – all silently attempting to attract some sort of buying activity. Unmeasurable with no accurate ROI.

Digital technology is now transforming our outdoor environment into an immersive network of connectivity between sellers and consumers. Here’s a quick look at this technology and how can you harness it to drive measurable sales of your product or service.

Location-based marketing tactics such as geotargeting, geofencing and beaconing are providing businesses with the ability to find their customers, send them relevant messages and offers, then guide them to a place to buy. Consider the following examples of digitally enhanced out of home marketing as you contemplate the most effective use of of this powerful new technology.

Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts recently rolled out a program using behavioral targeting to lure into its stores loyal customers of its competitors. Knowing that its customers tend to be on-the-go, with their smart phone playing a key role in that lifestyle, Dunkin Donuts identified mobile users who had visited a competitive coffee shop or c-store in the past 30 days. Using geotargeting, the chain delivered ads to those users along with various offers of $1 off a cup of coffee or $2 off a coffee plus sandwich meal.

Their initial results showed that more customers were saving the coupons than using them right away, so they optimized the program to deliver more impressions to audiences that were saving the coupons to bring down the cost per saved coupon. After seeing that they were able to lure customers to Dunkin’ Donuts from competitor’s to whom they were not brand loyal, they rolled similar campaigns out to other markets. They also learned, however, that this program wasn’t successful at attracting consumers who were already loyal to their competition.


Capitalizing on the volume of foot traffic in New York’s Times Square, Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark utilized a combination of Bluetooth and W-Fi to microtarget passersby of the Foxwoods Theater sending them a combination of interactive messages and other content. Consumers who choose to opt-in received digital images, a 30-second promotional video, and a show calendar equipped with a click-to-purchase or click-to-call feature when the Theatre was open. When the box office was closed, potential buyers received the promotional video and a link to online reservations along with a click to call for Ticketmaster.

Ashley Stewart

Shortly after announcing Chapter 11 bankruptcy, women’s apparel chain Ashley Stewart used location-based targeting to maintain their existing customers while closing 27 stores. The chain placed a geofence around its closed stores directing customers driving up to those stores to the nearest open Ashley Stewart location and then delivering them coupons and a link to their web store.

Reflecting the success of this unique digital campaign, the chain’s CRM Director Larry Gray stated, “It is definitely more efficient than our direct mail — I would say two to three times more efficient. It is probably maybe a quarter of the budget and then there is maybe 50 percent that is direct mail and then there is email that rounds things out.”

The possibility of much more

Geolocation services can fuel the effectiveness of your out of home marketing in many ways. Consider:

  • Identify VIP customers. Neiman Marcus has been testing a geofencing program that notifies sales clerks when VIP customers are in the vicinity, and assists them based on past purchases.
  • Immediate coupon delivery. 1-800-flowers geofences jewelry stores in proximity to 1-800-flowers’ shops and sends those customers discount offers and store information in order to entice them to add flowers to their purchase.
  • Measuring out of home message effectiveness.  By setting up a geofence around a particular billboard, advertisers can measure the effectiveness of that ad. Did people within proximity to the billboard come to the store, and if so what and how much did they purchase? Who says you can’t measure billboard ROI?
  • Track in-store metrics. Using bluetooth technology, measure how long customers are in your store, when they visit and how often they return. Based on those measurements, you can serve them a coupon upon their arrival to your store based on their buying frequency and the products they’ve purchased.

From creatively promoting your products or services to measuring your customer’s buying habits and preferences, location-based technologies can enhance your in-store experience and the effectiveness with which you drive customers into your stores.


About Mike Lake

Mike is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Evergreen Trading. When not playing jazz trombone he is probably obsessing about writing content that will capture the attention and interest of business people and fellow learning junkies everywhere.

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