On relevance and emotion in location-based advertising

Karl Spangenberg
Executive Vice President at MediaLink

Using location data can drastically improve advertising efficiency. To do so, we’re moving past simple geo-fencing, and producing something truly valuable: relevance.

Relevance is probably the most critical aspect of making any form of advertising successful. The thinking behind that statement should be straightforward: the more a commercial message resonates with my life and is relevant to what I'm thinking or doing or buying or where I’m going, the more likely I am to pay attention.

Relevance is what allows a viewer’s consciousness to break through the clutter. In this case, the clutter is made up of all the messages that we encounter as we watch TV, as we read, as we go online, as we walk through the airport, as we drive down the highway... Messages are coming at us with such a steady pace and frequency that we don’t even notice. The tonic for rising above all the noise? Relevance.

Relevance, and emotions that surface from relevance, are the topics of a white paper recently developed by HERE. The key proposal within that paper is how companies can add relevance to advertising through a better understanding of location data. Anyone interested in location-based advertising needs to understand how this is going to work.


Utilizing data and gaining an understanding of the digital footprint that we all leave as we go about our digital lives can give marketers a big edge in creating relevance. Gathering that data and turning it into a useful insight is a heavy task, but if you can gather that data efficiently, then you can potentially deliver a message with surgical precision that reaches the exact audience that matches the message.

That’s really what digital advertising promised us all and has delivered to an ever-growing extent. When we have a message, we can use increasingly accurate marketing tools to deliver that message to exactly the right people.

Location and emotion

Location-oriented advertising has been around for several years now, as you’ve likely seen. There are numerous apps for smartphones that ask you to share your location, and in exchange, you’ll receive a benefit. Later, when you’re close to a store, that app may send you an alert about sale going on.

"...if the message isn’t relevant, it could produce a negative reaction – and it’s in our best business interest to produce positive emotions."

This is a good early step, but intelligent location-based marketing is already evolving beyond a rather flat use case of proximity triggering. It could be a mistake to infer that solely because I’m close to a store location means that an advertisement is relevant to me. In fact, if that message isn’t relevant, it could produce a negative reaction – and it’s in our best business interest to produce positive emotions.

One point within the white paper that I find very intriguing is how location plays its part in creating or impacting emotions. Using location in a way that drives positive emotion represents a new generation of advancement in advertising thought and targeting. Knowing that emotions can drive greater relevance, which produces better contextual advertising, can drive greater results for the advertiser’s dollars.

There’s a lot to be learned in the days ahead, and this is part of the work we’re doing with HERE. With agencies and brand marketers, we’re exploring how they can assess and deconstruct the location data derived from mobile devices and other insights in terms of emotional connectivity to a place.

By putting that data together, and applying it intelligently, we can deliver advertising messages to those with whom the message resonates most, which will drive us to a much more sophisticated and nuanced level of messaging than has been the case so far.

Topics: Editor's Picks, Big Data, AdTech