logo, company name

The Power of Location-Based & Behavioral Marketing In a Hyper-Personalized World

a man wearing glasses and smiling at the camera
Fabio Italiano is head of C-suite program and applied innovation at Alteryx and a member of the CGT/RIS Executive Council.

“Everyone … hoping to capitalize on a wide-open summer and the marketing dream of a post-pandemic Roaring 20’s economic boom have begun pouring money into advertising."  Ben Smith, media columnist, The New York Times

“In the second half of this year, there is just going to be an onslaught of physical events." — Chris Weil, chairman and chief executive, experiential advertising agency Momentum

These words reflect the general sentiment of marketing managers as we approach the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and grapple with the compound effect of online and offline experiences. 

A Suggested New Approach to Personalization

Gleaning information on where people spend their time on apps and in the physical world provides a lot of opportunities for personalized messages.

2021 is expected to be the year of hyper-relevant messages as part of the eternal battle to gain consumer’s attention. Traditional advertising agencies go through a few months-long cycle to identify an audience and build the right creative message.

Building and managing the atomic elements of the creative copy will allow to capture dynamic audiences in the physical space and deliver fast activations contextual to real-life events such as weather forecast.

Digital images or videos can be tagged to relevant places or categories of places to build visuals relevant to experiences in the physical world. In mobile advertising, the text is a critical component of the creative copy, much more than sound. Behavioral science can help to optimize and select the right set of text copies.


Eyal Peer et Al in the “Nudge Me Right” paper describes how to pre-design a finite set of messages not to personalize nudges but to personalize which nudges based on people’s decision-making styles. Just like music is composed with only seven notes or like painting relies on three primary colors, there is no need to craft an infinite number of messages. The anchor to a limited number of messages may be the “state of mind” that a place may evoke when recalled by the creative copy.

In his book “Marketing to Mindstates,” Will Leach provides a wonderful framework of how nine human motivations, which can be primed to trigger a desired mindstate, for example, nurturance for Disney rides or sense of belonging for Harley’s clubs. 

Pre-tagging digital assets and text to locations and experiences allow running activations with incredible speed and scale if supported by the right technology and analytics.

There are signs consumers are receptive to location-based ads, with 80% of consumers indicating they want location-based alerts and three-quarters completing an action after receiving a message when they approach a physical location. It’s no wonder that businesses are embracing this latest trend in location-based marketing.

What is Mobility Advertising

In recognizing the value of mobility advertising, it’s helpful to first understand the basics of the technology. Mobile advertising has been relying on advertising IDs shared in a business partner's ecosystem. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), an advertising ID is a user-resettable ID assigned by the device or operating environment for advertising purposes.

The key difference between a device ID and an advertising ID is that advertising IDs can be reset by the user at any time.

Anonymized mobile advertising IDs are used to understand

• mobile applications’ activities

• people’s movement on the territory

Advertising IDs enable marketers to run sophisticated segmentation analysis. For example, an NFL team segmented their consumer acquisition list mapped to movement and dwell time to country clubs, private airports, and high-end hotels for a more fine-tuned sales offering.

Many advertising and social media platforms offer the ability to ingest custom audiences based on advertising IDs. Such campaigns can be utilized for a wide range of calls to action, from the acquisition of first-party data (signing up for email lists or mobile app downloads) to purchasing conversions.

The successful conversions can then be used to build look-alike models to extend the audience reach, leveraging the rich information of social media and advertising platforms.

Finally, first-party acquisitions open the door to geofencing marketing activities like the successful Burger King’s Whopper Detour, a campaign that resulted in millions of downloads of the Burger King app and over half a million coupon redemptions.

Out of Home Advertising

Mobility data supports the analytics to both plan and close the loop on out-of-home advertising.

Footfall prediction, along with the type of audiences in a particular area, allows to better plan and sell digital advertising space.

Mobility data can also support strong marketing attribution models as dwell times and directionality can be captured around digital billboards, providing similar, if not stronger, attribution models as the display ads in the digital world.

Mobility Tracking Restrictions?

Outside the walled gardens (Facebook, Google, Amazon) the advertising industry has made consistent efforts to make the exchange of value with consumers explicit: content in lieu of attention for advertising.

The situation has led to some malpractice but, most of all, to a public skepticism when it came to advertising (how do they know what I am thinking?). Recently, Mobile Advertising IDs are being curtailed.

The iOS 14.5 update includes a new privacy framework, App Tracking Transparency (ATT) that requires all apps to obtain users’ permission before tracking their data. Individuals will be presented with a pop-up screen where they can either grant apps permission or opt out of all tracking.

According to Apple, only 20-40% of consumers plan to opt-in to app data collection.

Nevertheless, we still see mobility data playing a significant role in building dynamic audiences and highly relevant messages, without discounting the ability to transform an otherwise anonymous visitor into precious first-party audiences.

Shared Audiences as Co-marketing Opportunity

As people moving in the physical world, we envision audiences that can be shared across multiple organizations and multiple industries. Imagine the possibilities of uncovering local and national sponsorship opportunities between sports teams and retail/CPG entities (such as restaurants or beverages companies or clothing companies).

Cloud and common analytics platforms can unlock these cross-collaboration opportunities.

Last but not least, local governments, as they develop the smart-city concept, can leverage mobility and IoT data to offer digital services in collaboration with private corporations.

Fabio Italiano is head of C-suite program and applied innovation at Alteryx and a member of the CGT/RIS Executive Council

More From the Executive Council