GeoMinds: How do you build a winning engagement strategy?

Sep 15, 2015

Source: GeoMarketing Last week I attended a Roundtable session hosted by PluggedIn BD where thought leaders within mobile gathered to debate the what, why, and how to’s of mobile engagement strategy. This was a timely topic given the latest news and announcements about ad blocking strategies and the “end of advertising” as we know it that have made headlines recently. In the end, there was agreement that a winning engagement strategy — platform agnostic — boils down to two things: context and content, the two pillars of what makes advertising effective by making it relevant. Location Is The Link As the lone location-based marketer on the panel, I was enthused to hear this conclusion given that the link between context and content is location. Only by understanding where a consumer is can a brand truly understand what is relevant to them and thereby engage effectively. Operating under the tenet, “where you are is who you are,” marketers should base their engagement strategy on understanding where their target audience goes. Are they a business traveler? Do they frequent the gym? Do they often visit QSR locations? Being location-aware empowers marketers to target beyond age and gender and it is this ability to connect at a more granular level that should be the cornerstone of any winning engagement strategy, particularly in an era of mobility where consumers are always on the go. Mobility also means that the “target audience” needs to be more fluid – one consumer is a part of several audiences within his or her day. Where they are – the gym, work, on vacation – means that they fit different audience descriptions and therefore should be targeted as such. Creative Content It has been said that nobody wants ads – a statement that might ring particularly true within mobile given how far we still need to evolve mobile ad units and the overall experience – but what if ads became less “ad-like”? By understanding where a consumer is, marketers can better strategize ways to connect with them through useful content. Instead of serving a branded banner ad targeted to consumers within a grocery store, why not serve a link to a recipe for the brand’s product? Using location, marketers should attempt to relate to the consumer in that moment, in that place. Being location-aware lends itself to being context-aware and that is the formula for engagement. Conversely, to succeed at engagement, marketers need to build the right audience in the first place and again, geo-data is the answer. Creating an audience based on where they are means that you will be reaching people that will have an innate interest in your message. An athletic brand will increase its engagement rate by targeting gym-goers, an idea that seems elementary but is not as widely used in strategic planning meetings as it should be. Too often I hear that a plan is not working and, after inquiring, come to learn that very little work was done to build audience intelligence from the start. As TV planners research what shows and networks their intended audience watches, those responsible for mobile budgets should understand their intended audience’s mobility. This is an investment in planning that I have not seen done right yet, and given the intimate nature of this channel, I hope to see in the near future. As with all things, whether it be through advertising, promotion, or in 1:1 conversation, to engage is to relate and the more we understand about a consumer, the more relatable the advertising becomes. When you really think about it, the industry has been given a gift with the proliferation of mobile devices. We as marketers now have access to consumers in the most intimate way, on their most used device. With this accessibility, comes the challenge to maintain positive advertiser-consumer relations which I think is absolutely achievable by emphasizing the need to get engagement right. Using all of the strategies mentioned here and placing a higher value on geo-data and building location-based audiences, I see a brighter future for mobile advertising and increased examples of winning engagement strategies. *Lara Mehanna is GM US, VP Sales & Business Development of SONATA, the first global mobile advertising platform focused on connecting online advertising to offline results. Previous to SONATA, she spent 2.5 years as General Manager of Mobile at DataXu where she was involved in building out omni-channel solutions and the Company’s mobile go-to-market strategy. Prior to DataXu, Lara spent almost four years leading mobile market development for Jumptap (acquired by Millenial Media), helping to build the mobile ad network and managing network and publisher relationships. Lara started her career in search and digital marketing, running the global search product/business team at AOL. Lara also started and is co-head of the local Women in Wireless chapter in the NYC tri-state area where she has successfully built an organization of volunteers that support, empower, and mentor women in the mobile and digital industry, created a giving back initiative to further assist women in need, and built a fundraising program that has enabled multiple events per year attended by many in the mobile and digital industry.**Editor’s Note: Our “GeoMinds” opinion series features posts written by outside contributors from all parts of the GeoMarketing community who want to share their views of the trends, issues, problems, and solutions changing the online-to-offline advertising and marketing landscape. To become a contributor, contact us at

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