Location information to make mobile ads more valuable

App and advertising executives tell an audience at All Things D's mobile conference that location-based ads may finally pave the way for more money to be spent on mobile advertising.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read
Millennial Media's Mollie Spilman and Google's Jason Spero take the stage at All Things D's mobile conference to discuss the future of mobile advertising. CNET/Marguerite Reardon

NEW YORK--Hyper-targeted advertising based on your location is coming to mobile phones and could finally bring money into the mobile advertising market, say experts at the All Things D mobile conference here Monday.

In two separate interviews, the CEO of the mapping app Waze and ad executives Jason Spero from Google and Mollie Spilman of Millennial Media talked up the importance of users' GPS location information to help tailor advertising.

Spilman said that this kind of advertising is very powerful to brands.

"Location is important because we know where you are, and when you are doing something," she said.

For example, Spilman said that when consumers redeem mobile coupons that are offered based on proximity they provide advertisers with a wealth of information.

"It's not just binary, like a billboard," she said, adding that advertisers can know when people are redeeming coupons and where they are using them.

Noam Bardin, CEO of Waze, talks up the company's location-based advertising during a talk at All Things D's mobile conference. CNET/Marguerite Reardon

Waze, a crowd-sourced navigation app for driving, is testing an advertising campaign with Taco Bell where the fast food chain sends special offers to people using the app when they're in the general vicinity of a Taco Bell.

Waze CEO Noam Bardin said that not only are customers being offered something that is relevant to them because they may be close to a Taco Bell, but the advertiser is also getting very specific information, which it can use to tailor future offers.

"The real value is in seeing which people arrive at different locations based on various offers," he said. "It's powerful. We can influence where people go."

While Google's Spero admitted that mobile advertising rates still lag traditional online advertising rates, he said that when the advertising is targeted and coupled with proximity information, like the Taco Bell promotions, it becomes more valuable.

He said the key to raising the value of mobile advertising is to show how the activity from the marketing can be tracked.

"If you can't attribute and track the value of the advertising, you can't get the money for it," he said. "If someone walks into the Taco Bell while they're en route (after seeing the ad via Waze), we are showing value."

Spero said it's up to those selling the advertising on mobile devices to make tools that can track promotions and see if they are working.

"We have a responsibility that our customers can attribute the maximum amount of what they're buying," he said. "(And we need) to make that scalable."