There’s more to marketing than search and social: why real-world intelligence matters

Marketers are always looking for ways to improve results and get more out of their budgets. In the past few years, this has often meant greater investment in search and social media, both tried-and-true ways to target and convert consumers at an acceptable CPC and at massive scale. These channels are so popular and so relied-upon, it’s led to the duopoly we see today. But why are marketers relegating so much of their budget to these two channels?

What many marketers may not realize is that location-based intelligence may be a smarter investment in many scenarios – and in almost every scenario, a smart investment in addition to search and social. Where people go, as we say at Blis, reveals a lot about who they are. Location data offers real-world intelligence that is unmatched by other sources. It delivers specific insights that can inform every other marketing channel.

Search is an imperative, but it can’t be your only option


Search engine marketing is a critical element of any marketing strategy. Campaigns go live and can start driving a lot of traffic very quickly. Search, more than many channels, is capable of capturing consumer attention when they’re ready to buy something. If a shopper types in a search for “8K TV,” there’s a good chance they’re in the market for a new television set. Even more telling, a search for “hair salon near me” is a powerful indicator that someone will be paying for a haircut within the next few hours or days. It’s easy to see why any business would want to be at the top of those search results.

However, search has its limitations. For starters, there’s only so much inventory. How many companies can be in the top three search results for “search engine marketing agency,” for example – even if keywords are only purchased by region? Competition for inventory is fierce, and popular keywords go quickly and at high costs-per-click.

The fact that most search ads are text only is also a challenge. There’s no way to be eye-catching, and marketers are forced to limit their creativity to three short lines of text and a URL.

Social also has limitations – and ads are not always welcome.

Social media offers a myriad of ad formats, unlike search, and a huge number of targeting options. Facebook offers targeting based on location, education, gender, what people like and more. LinkedIn users can be targeted by where they work, what their job title is, where they went to school, and many other options. Across all platforms, ads can be visual and displayed natively, in-feed, so they’re part of the content, rather than an interruption to it. And, most importantly, advertising on social platforms gives brands an opportunity to respond to and interact with consumers in genuine conversations. These are all benefits of social media advertising.

With platforms like YouTube, consumption and engagement are high, and reach is broad. The video platform has over 1.8 billion users, and with streaming media still on the rise, that number isn’t likely to drop. However, advertising on YouTube can be tricky. Users love to skip ads when they can and are annoyed by those they can’t skip.

The bigger problem is targeting. Content creators categorize and tag their own videos, and these are used to target ads. Content creators on YouTube are not always marketers and not always savvy, so the video may not be identified appropriately for marketing. The second, more serious concern is that your ad could appear adjacent to negative, inappropriate, or even offensive content. This is a risk with nearly any type of contextually-targeted advertising, of course, but the fact that content creators are tagging their own videos creates greater opportunity for gaffs.

Location doesn’t lie

While social and search are certainly “table stakes” for marketers these days, they shouldn’t be the only channels marketers rely on – and they shouldn’t be eating the lion’s share of the budget either. There are other channels and other strategies that are worthy of consideration and investment.

As Meru Shantharam, head of sales, Singapore, wrote in a recent post:

“In still another scenario, one could consume vast amounts of content that reflect their interests but are an absolute distortion of that consumer’s behaviour. The person who loves reading about Ferraris and Lotuses can’t necessarily afford to buy those cars, or be in a position to buy them, so targeting them with ads might not yield adequate results.

However, if that same consumer had actually visited Rolls Royce and Bentley dealerships, that’s a far better signal to consider. It’s dramatically more indicative of a consumer’s purchase intent and power because it reflects actual, real-world behaviour. It’s data that has far more meaning and significance than self-reported lifestyles.”

Real world data, he says, prevents marketers from making inaccurate assumptions. Location data provides the truth about where people go and when, empowering marketers to understand what their lives look like from day to day. It’s real world intelligence that can inform brands of who their prospective audiences are and what can products, services and offers might make their daily routines a little easier. This deep, useful intelligence can inform every campaign, making creatives more relevant and helping marketers to understand which messages will resonate better on which devices in any particular moment.

Marketers can take these steps to balance their campaigns and make their marketing more effective:

  • Don’t stop your social and search campaigns – but don’t invest your entire marketing budget in these channels either. They’re very useful, but they’re not the only, or even the best, options.
  • Look closely at the analytics associated with your search and social campaigns. What have you learned about your audience, how they live and how they shop? What do they respond to?
  • Invest in location intelligence to learn more about how your audience really is, what they want and how they behave. Where people go reveals a lot about how who they are, and the real-world insights you’ll gain will dramatically improve all your campaigns, across media. You’ll be able to better tailor creatives and select media and channels more effectively based on what you learn. Not only will your campaigns drive better results, you’ll have better information to help you plan your next initiative.

While location intelligence can’t replace search and social, it is as investment-worthy as these channels. The intelligence we glean from real-world data can inform every aspect of the marketing plan, from the channel strategy to individual creatives. By understanding who prospective customers are, where they go, and what they do, marketers can deliver what they want and need – and that’s a benefit to both the business and the consumer.

Like what you’ve read? Get in touch today to find out how real-world intelligence can drive real results.

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