Location-Based Advertising Simplified

03.17.2016 Cox Media3 min

A Story of Precision Consumer Targeting & Why Your Mobile Advertising Campaigns Need Compelling Offers

For the vegetarian version of this blog, click here.


It’s a warm, sunny summer day, and there you are relaxing on the beach – soaking up the rays and enjoying the soothing sounds of the ocean quietly in the background. You take a moment to check the upcoming weather forecast on your mobile phone when you hear, “Hey buddy – have a second?”

It happens to be a beach vendor standing over you and selling something. He’s holding a shiny silver tray and on it sits a hot fully-cooked (medium rare) sizzling 8oz filet mignon atop what he claims to be a 400 degree plate – yours to enjoy right where you lay on your blanket for just $15. You check the time to see why your stomach isn’t growling at this delicious sight, but at 10:30 am, why would it be? While it’s tough to pass up on a good looking filet at a great price, the thought of a not-so-refreshing and potentially sand encrusted meal just isn’t that enticing for you to jump at the offer.

However, instead of suggesting a heavy (sandy?) steak at the wrong place and wrong time, that vendor could’ve easily gotten their message across (with the same offer!) through a display ad on your mobile device – which you would have seen as you were checking the weather forecast. I don’t know about you, but as much as I love a good steak I don’t think any amount of in-your-face enticing is going to have me finding it worthwhile to eat a steak on a sand-laden beach towel.

So what is happening here?


The ways that digital ads can reach the right target is nothing short of incredible. In fact, the sandy steak situation above should rarely (if ever) happen. Targeting the correct customer using mobile has evolved to the point where:

  • Any local business has the ability to draw a line on a map to determine a targeted area where they want their ads served as mobile devices enter those areas.
  • They can pick a time to deliver those messages.
  • The business can deliver their messages to people exhibiting specific lifestyles that may be most in line with the offer.
  • The message can be controlled to be right in line with everything mentioned above to deliver the most relevant and therefore actionable offer.

Theoretically, the restaurant in question could approach this by deciding to:

  • Deliver the message to people up and down the beach for about a half mile distance only.
  • Deliver that message between 11 am and 1 pm, and then again between 2 pm and 4:30 pm.
  • Only deliver to people that exhibit a dining-out lifestyle.


It’s at the point where the ad campaign becomes a bit more art than science. The ad elements you’ve already designed are now only part of the compelling offer – you need to incorporate convenience, timing and target. And now, it’s about inciting action. Even if that vendor/mobile ad shows up to you at the right time and offers you, a categorized “dining out” person, a filet on a sandy beach blanket you are likely to pass.

But what if the offer tells you that it’s available a few hundred yards up the boardwalk instead? Great, but maybe I’ll do that tomorrow (which we all know inevitably leads to no sale a majority of the time).

How about if he tells you the offer is only good today? Enter urgency – a major ingredient of this compelling offer that was delivered at the right time, to the right type of person and right place. While you still may decide that today doesn’t work, the “stakes” have certainly been raised in terms of chances someone else receiving the ad might be pushed over the edge to say “yes.”

Either way, it’s imperative to ask the consumer to take an action such as a “click to get” or “tap to dial” – don’t leave them assuming anything. Guide them down the path you wish them to take. You’ve done enough to excite – now incite to action!

So please forgive my crude approach at artistic fake-ad building and see below for what a mobile offer could look like:

And upon clicking, something like the following would display:

When it comes to mobile ad targeting, creativity rules – the world is your oyster (or filet) with all of the possibilities. A few questions to ask yourself:

  • Is there a specific time of day people might be considering my business’ products over others?
  • Are there specific events and/or gathering spots that may have the type of person who typically purchases my products?
  • What is a complimentary product or service to our business? How might we entice their customer  to be so inclined to buy our products at the same time (think: jewelry store patrons buying flowers too)?
  • Where are our competitors, and might it make sense to target people at or near their places of business?
  • Are there times and places we can target where people are waiting for something and may be more apt to use their mobile device (like in a doctor’s waiting room, or in the stands of a local high school football game)?
  • Could we vary our creative to offer one thing during the day (like a steak) and perhaps something else in the evening (like an adult beverage special)?


Want to learn more about specific ways to reach your customers? Read my geo-conquesting (yes, it’s as cool as it sounds) blog post here.

Check out our latest eBook on the importance of targeting and what it means for your business.

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