The New Year is now upon us, and we’re continuing our daily predictions pieces from industry experts on the trends they expect to see in the next 12 months. Today, xAd‘s Theo Theodorou explains why he believes 2016 will see location become a marketing channel in its own right.

We are living in a world where marketers increasingly need to live and breathe mobile. According to eMarketer, mobile ad spend will top $100bn worldwide next year, with 51 per cent of digital advertising spend being allocated to this channel.

To be successful in digital, understanding who your consumers are and where they are at a given time will be critical. How can advertisers best understand the who, the when and the where of consumers? The answer is through leveraging of mobile location data.

For example, impact will be limited if a female fashion retailer located miles away decides to advertise its new range to a male football fan at a Tottenham Hotspurs game. He is not the intended audience, nor is he in the right place at the right time to buy. However, with information about a consumer’s location, brands can reach particular audiences and use precise targeting to ensure they engage the people that are most likely to act in an exact moment.

With this in mind, here is why marketers need to consider location as a channel in its own right in 2016:

It offers increased accuracy and precision targeting
Many brands have overlooked advertising on mobile due to the lack of sophistication in targeting, limited accuracy and precision in measurement tools, which makes it harder to justify investment in the channel. However, location technology is helping to solve these problems in two clear ways. Firstly, proximity targeting technology is now so sophisticated that it allows brands to understand real time, human footprints of shoppers. Secondly, programmatic technology has emerged as one of the most efficient ways for brands to leverage location with acute accuracy. Marketers have never been able to get so close to their customers and understand their motivations for buying an item.

It can strengthen customer relationships and foster brand loyalty
An important aspect of any marketing channel is that it will not only draw the customer in once, but will encourage them to return. Using location allows marketers to target their audience based on context, ensuring communications are relevant and timely. Over time, data collected from location will allow marketers to build personalised experiences that make customers feel valued as individuals. This insight builds a connection with the brand and ultimately, a sense of loyalty. As marketers are catering for an increasingly mobile-savvy customer, we expect to see location become an integral part of any engagement strategy.

It could be the key to mobile ROI
For a long time mobile has been a sticking point for measurement and attribution as cookies don’t work on mobile; this is why location is now being considered the new “real-world” cookie. With better measurement on mobile, marketers will find it easier to justify their budgets, showcase their results and ultimately prove their contribution to the business.

The foundations are in place for location marketing to truly kick-off next year especially with tech giants Facebook and Google investing in it. Unsurprising really, with MMA research finding that location can have an impact of 120 per cent on ROI.

The question is, how fast will the industry be to follow and direct their marketing spend accordingly? With unique and accurate insights that allow marketers to get under the skin of their customers and build campaigns that are relevant and engaging, we see 2016 as the year that location marketing will emerge to rival search and social for marketing spend.

Theo Theodorou is head of EMEA at location-based mobile ad firm xAd.

View the full article on Mobile Marketing here.