Imagine being able to target potential customers who are within walking distance of your business, searching for exactly what you offer, all with the click of a button. Thanks to advancements in mobile technology and a number of up and coming startups, this scenario is not as farfetched as it might sound, and could be the future of how you advertise your small business.
Driving this type of advertising is the addition of GPS capabilities to the latest cell phones, including the iPhone and newer model BlackBerries. Leveraging this technology, an increasing number of mobile applications are incorporating location features, ranging from driving and walking directions to social networking.
One of the first applications to gain traction in the geolocation space is Loopt, a social networking service that lets you see where your friends are on a map. Loopt has deals with all of the major carriers, and through a partnership with CBS, became one of the first to test geo-targeted advertising on mobiles. That deal leverages the GPS location information of Loopt users to show geo-targeted ads when users are browsing CBS properties on their mobile phones.
Google, who already operates the most dominant online advertising business, recently got into the location game itself, launching an application called Latitude that, like Loopt, shows you your friends’ current locations. While Latitude doesn’t yet feature advertising, it’s not a stretch to imagine a point in the not-too-distant future when geo-targeted ads can be purchased through the company’s AdWords platform.
Beyond the 800-pound gorilla Google and the nimble startup Loopt, there are a number of startups focusing on mobile advertising, some of which already offer geo-targeting capabilities at scale.
AdMob has built one of the largest advertising networks for mobile websites and raised nearly $50 million in venture capital. Medialets, a smaller New York-based startup, focuses on putting advertising within actual mobile applications for iPhone and those running on Google’s Android operating system.
So, that’s a 30,000 foot view of the mobile advertising landscape. Digging in deeper, you’ll want to pay attention to the same issues and metrics as any ad campaign: creating compelling offers, writing winning copy, and doing some split testing to see what performs best in the mobile environment. But the technology is there, and for now, giving you an opportunity to try something the competition might not yet have caught onto.