Brands know they can refine their local ads to be more relevant — but they may not realize that location targeting can deliver similar results on a national level, writes GroundTruth’s Dan Silver.

If marketers ever doubted the value of location intelligence, that time has long since passed. According to a recent BIA/Kelsey Industry Watch report, location-targeted advertising is on the rise. Today, it represents 38 percent of all mobile ad revenue — and by the year 2021 that number will have jumped to 45 percent, amounting to more than $32 billion.

In part, we have tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Snap — all of which are investing heavily in location marketing — to thank for this upswing. New Facebook features launched last year are designed to “connect store sales to Facebook ad campaigns.” Snap is actively working to help retailers follow the path to purchase from Snapchat to their brick-and-mortar stores. The focus, however, is often on local targeting. That leaves many marketers wondering about the benefits to their national brands.

As companies continue to increase their location-based ad spend, it’s time to address the local-national link. Here’s a look at what national brands can expect to gain from location intelligence, and why it’s crucial to your future campaigns.

Why location targeting is more than just local

Most marketers are well aware that location data provides richer, more accurate insights into consumer shopping behavior. Brands know they can refine their local ads to be more relevant, timely, and personalized. What they may not realize is that location targeting can deliver similar results on a national level when it’s used to identify foot traffic patterns and incite in-store sales.

Recently, GroundTruth worked with a national restaurant chain to run a test campaign in a local market. The campaign, which utilized a new pay-per-visit model, was so successful that the brand expanded it to 81 top-tier markets. We found that the brand was able to generate the same results beyond the original region. To date, the effort has produced more than 100,000 in-store visits nationwide.

A strategy like this one has other advantages as well. For instance, an analysis of the consumers that visited the restaurant chain revealed an unexpected crossover with unlikely competitor brands. While the brand believed it had its finger on the pulse of both its audience and its competition, location data that provided deep insight into consumer intent allowed the advertiser to identify new areas of opportunity that would otherwise have been overlooked.

On a national level, location insights also enables marketers to make smarter decisions about issues like expanding to new markets, closing existing locations in light of reduced foot traffic, and establishing a brand presence near a thriving competitor. With the help of location intelligence, brands can fine-tune their strategies for specific regions. Many brands has invested heavily in a national campaign only to discover that foot traffic in the region they had high hopes for has fallen flat, but this scenario can be avoided if a brand leverages the data at hand.

For a public company with a national footprint, location data is an absolute must. Earlier this year, Walmart reported earnings results that were higher than expected, due in part to increased foot traffic to its stores. Using mobile data to assess foot traffic trends and predict sales can better prepare both retailers and market analysts for what’s to come.

Location as an indicator of intent

When it comes to gauging what their customers want, marketers look to search terms, social media activity, and buying history, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent that location data is a more reliable indicator of intent. As brands from Warby Parker to Amazon and Alibaba buck the trend and open brick-and-mortar stores, location data has become more vital than ever to creating a positive — and profitable — customer experience.

Imagine that an athletic apparel retailer is preparing to open multiple new locations nationwide. No amount of search or social media data can guarantee that customers will walk through the door. But location and shopping pattern data shows us which regions sports enthusiasts are most likely to live in, and which hotels and restaurants they’re most likely to visit. These indicators of intent paint a clear picture of where an athleisure company should open up shop.

The benefits to leveraging location targeting don’t end with your local campaign. As investments rise, it’s time to make the most of location data for your national brand.

**Dan Silver is the senior director of local marketing at GroundTruth.

View the entire article on GeoMarketing.