Two weeks ago, Foursquare launched a self-serve ad platform that allows small businesses to deliver ads based on users’ locations, i.e. check-ins, and similar businesses they have already visited, increasing the chances that users will find the ads relevant.
Given Google’s propensity for connecting its many properties and data sets, it’s only a matter of time until it incorporates historical activity into its Maps ads, noted Shim. “If I’m using Google Maps to get directions to the hotel that I’ve already looked for, it doesn’t make sense to show ads for nearby hotels,” he added. “With all the data that Google has, they’ll want to put something else in front of customers.”
Companies are using a wide variety of geo-targeting strategies to serve ads at different ends of the marketing funnel, noted Darrin Clement, CEO of Maponics, a location-based data provider.
“It is interesting to see that Google's ads are search-driven, as you'd expect, and in this case they have the goal of directing you to a destination and influencing the selection of where you are going before you get there,” Clement said. “Meanwhile, Foursquare is taking a much more ‘experiential’ approach to geo-targeting ads. They target based on your check-ins, and your current activity… You might think of this approach as an impulse buy at the checkout line rather than a planning tool.”
Twitter is pursuing geo-targeted ads as well and is reportedly developing a geo-fencing capability that will let retailers show promoted tweets to people who open its mobile apps within a certain distance from their stores.
Regardless of which strategy companies use, the winner will be the one that leverages the most accurate data, Clement maintained. “As long as you are basing your approach on ultra-precise data,” he said, “each approach to geo-targeting will be effective in the right circumstances.”