Mapping Local-Online and Mobile Ad Dollars
About The Author:Robert Travis is the Marketing & Communications point man for Lat49.com. Lat49 is the online mapvertising system that brings geographically relevant advertising to users of online maps.
Everyone uses online maps these days. Everyone. Last week, I was pretty sure I caught one of my dogs online, mapping out our latest walk and rating it for distance and quality… and then there’s my aunt – she spends about half of her life checking out vacation spots, not to mention driving directions to the nearest and lowest gas prices.
If you need the numbers, stats and various studies show that approximately 85% of all internet users are clicking and dragging their way from place to place throughout the world; planning trips, house hunting, following their friends around by IP and cell phone triangulation, researching local businesses… or mapping out fitness (and dog-walking) routes.
The fact of it is the audience for online maps is huge. Millions of consumer eyes are just waiting for the right product or service to pop up and tickle their consumer hands right into their consumer wallets. And the demographics are appealing, too. Internet-enabled households have buying power. It’s the perfect opportunity for local businesses and branding campaigns to “reach out and touch someone”, to “be all they can be”, to <insert clever marketing slogan here>.
This isn't earth-shattering, breaking news. It’s mapvertising. Advertisers know about and covet this audience. Website publishers with maps integrated into their sites are drawing huge traffic from this audience -- but the technology simply hasn't been there to serve the need effectively.
Advertisers want drilled down, geo-targeted leads that tap the local markets, the person on the go -- the person with a map on their laptop or their handheld. Consumers want relevant ads that don't drive them crazy; ads that speak to their current focus and needs – ads that are related to what they are looking for, and where they are looking for it. Site publishers want to be able to effectively monetize their sites in such a way that they make money without adversely affecting their users’ experience. It’s a symbiotic relationship that often gets derailed by the fact that current attempts to geo-target tend to miss the point of the user's visit to the map-site, and lose any relevance beyond the user's first 5 seconds on the page.
How many of you have ever gone to a web-page -- with or without maps -- and promptly tuned out the slew of ads that try to sell you a subscription of Viagra when you’re 21, possibly the wrong gender, and are really just looking for directions to a coffee shop called Uptown where you are meeting friends before a day of shopping with your better half.
I know I have.
There was no reason for me to look. The ads were not relevant to me so I ignored them. I did notice them enough to see that, despite the fact that I’d been using the map for 20 minutes, they hadn’t changed once. They didn’t matter. I wasn’t interested in them when I arrived on the site and I still wasn’t interested 20 minutes later, when I left. The site had missed its chance to serve me an ad that was better targeted to what I was searching for; the advertiser had missed a prime opportunity to sell me something more in line with my interests – something that might have been just a click or a block away from where I was going. Or next door, even!
Of course, display and text ads are not the only way to advertise on a map site. There are also pushpins, complete with fancy bubbles that can contain lots of pertinent information like the direct location of the business, sometimes a pretty logo, and sometimes more detail on the company than you might expect. Pushpin ads have been around for a while now, and are helpful, but not always intuitive, and too many things cluttering up the map can assault your eyes. Don't get me wrong; when you, as a user, have some degree of control over the pushpins and they are filled with rich media and other such interactive goodies, they are a powerful tool. But, what if you are trying to advertise a service or something else that is not location specific? You want to reach the people who are searching on the map, in that area – the people who are staring at your business area and are your target demographic. What if you are advertising a new movie opening or a junk removal company? Or you’re a realtor who wants to own the market and become the name for real estate in a particular neighborhood? What if you are raising awareness of your new, special, super-concentrated, kill ‘em dead roach removal technique and you want to target a certain block in a certain neighborhood that you know just had a serious breakout infestation?
Pushpins would have a hard time filling that bill on their own.
Display ads that take advantage of the interactive nature of Flash and Ajax map websites are the first step in answering all of the above questions. Display ads can catch the user's eye, can deliver geo-targeted messaging, and when combined with pushpins, can show relevant locations, and additional information. Integrating the advertising API with the map site itself allows the ads to be intuitive to the user’s needs and location of interest, and it provides a multitude of advertising opportunities as the user interacts with the map:
o Tommy starts off on a real estate website, searching for a rental in Manhattan (good luck, Tommy…).
o An ad for a New York City realty/rental company appears either on or off the map, with an eye-catching graphic, somewhere in Tommy's line of sight -- but not in Tommy's way.
o He moves deeper into the map, zooming in and panning to the Greenwich Village area.
o Lo and behold! An ad for the local realtor from that company, who specializes in The Village, appears, advertising her expertise and years of experience in the Village real estate market, rent or buy – more than enough to catch Tommy’s attention and interest.
o The display ad itself is visually compelling, colorful and well designed. And the ad is offering something that Tommy needs. The realtor knew that people looking at a map of the Village on a real estate/rental site are interested in living there. Tommy would dearly LOVE to live in the village – and now the realtor and Tommy are connected. And that handy little pushpin feature, as well as the ad itself, points Tommy right to her office door.
A recent study by a strategic consulting firm for online marketing endeavors shows that there is a general understatement in the impact of display advertising. Display advertising is a powerful means to drive awareness, and awareness leads to engagement which, in turn, leads to sales. Spur Digital documents that regular display advertising is only just behind paid search in ROAS (return on ad spend) -- and that is without taking into account the interactive, geo-targeted opportunity for display ads when used effectively with online maps. The study also showed that overall results from search were lower when not coupled with display advertising.
The ability of mapvertising to target regional audiences is a major desirable for advertisers and that interest can be lucrative for online map publishers and advertisers, alike, with the proper use of today’s technology. The key to building a successful advertising network that takes advantage of this powerful, interactive medium is an effective advertising model that serves the broad range of advertiser needs – from national brands to local, retail or service-based businesses. The eyes are there, but the question has always been: how do you target them effectively?
One of the first to answer this question and leverage the opportunities inherent in mapvertising is a company called Lat49.
Lat49.com is the home of the lat49 mapvertising network. The company’s focus since inception was to develop answers and provide solutions to all of the questions posed in this article. Developed by a collection of cliff-climbing cyber-geeks who also happen to be experts in user interface design and visual experience technology -- not to mention a healthy dose of marketing and advertising, lat49 is the only ad network to deliver fully geo-targeted display ads that change and refresh as the user interacts with the map. Ads can be served on or off map, over any online or mobile mapping technology, and can be accompanied by a branded pushpin feature that further integrates advertising as content in the user’s mapping experience.
With a whole new dimension added to mapvertising, the ability to capture the local market like no one else, a diverse publisher network, and both mobile and white label solutions in the immediate pipeline -- you just might want to consider giving them a call…
You can learn more about lat49 at www.lat49.com.