THE RIGHT SPOT: How publishers can zone in on location-based mobile apps.

Author:Suciu, Peter

"Location, location, location," a saying that has been around in the real estate world since the 1920s, couldn't be truer today when it comes to mobile-based apps. Location could be a huge opportunity for publishers and advertisers alike--but it could be one with significant challenges.

"It's fascinating to think about the historical importance of location," said Josh Crandall, principal analyst at Netpop Research. "As a proxy for the importance of location we can refer to that oft-quoted saying from the real estate industry, and you could say that location has been critically important to humankind ever since we settled down from a nomadic existence."

Location is more important than ever because of the way that content is now being consumed. What was once just considered the "third screen"--after the TV and computer monitor--today mobile devices are increasingly becoming the way people connect with the outside world. U.S. adults now spend more than three hours, 35 minutes per day on mobile devices, and by next year mobile will surpass TV as the medium attracting the most minutes, according to research from eMarketer. Apps also account for 90 percent of internet time on smartphones, and location based apps are playing an increasing role as well.

"Location-based apps are being prominently leveraged for marketing purposes," said Brock Berry, founder and CEO of AdCellerant. "For bigger brands, location-based data is a way to predict user behavior of their products."

Location data can be used in various ways beyond just selling products, as the concept of "checking in" has become part of many mobile device users' daily routine.

"It can be used to identify audiences based on real-world behaviors and movements--(such as) business travelers, fitness enthusiasts, McDonald's loyalists," said Greg Sterling, vice president for strategy and insights at the Local Search Association. "It can be used for attribution and to provide that ads generated store visits--even sales in many cases. It can be used for operational or competitive insights and to support business decision-making."

For newspaper publishers this "localization" could present huge opportunities for advertisers.

"Most newspaper advertisers are local or in-market," Sterling told E&P. "They would be interested to determine how effective ads in the paper or online are. Using location data for attribution could help. It might also help publishers do better audience profiling. People at this address have these behaviors, etc. These profiles would be rolled up into groups or categories."

The Importance of Location

While location as it relates to the surroundings--proximity to a river, town center, good schools, etc.--has long been important, the role that location has with mobile apps is actually fairly new. We can thank the Cold War for making it possible.

According to Crandall, "Our Global Positioning System, or GPS, has been used by the U.S. military since I960, but was only available to the public in (the year) 2000 after President Clinton ordered the...

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