“Spying billboards”: How Retailers Can Balance Geo-targeting and Privacy

Using anonymous tracking data to target your advertising isn’t new or ominous. It’s more Big Sister than Big Brother. Learn how geo-targeting can bring valuable benefits to customers interested in your products.

Recently, New York senator Chuck Schumer called for an FTC investigation of whether “spying billboards" should be allowed to track the cell phone data of unsuspecting passersby. We understand that people would be concerned about their privacy being violated, but this type of data collection is actually nothing new: you’ve already opted in by owning a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth device. Each broadcasts a unique ID, or MAC (Media Access Control) address, a 12-digit code assigned by the manufacturer that allows it to be easily detected by nearby Wi-Fi or Bluetooth sensors. If your smart phone is on, your MAC is broadcasting, and can be easily tracked (though not your email, phone number, or other information—yet!).

In fact, MAC tracking is already big business: it's known as Mobile Location Analytics (MLA). National retailers use MLA to help understand their customers’ in-store behavior and experience (e.g., wait time at a certain time of day, which store displays are most popular, whether a department is adequately staffed). How can you, as a retailer, deliver equally targeted marketing; anticipate your customers’ needs and deliver on them?

Simply180 employs several marketing platforms that are based on anonymous user data but that do not overstep consumer privacy rights. In fact, they enhance the client experience (“This is exactly what I was looking for!”), and save the retailer a lot of guesswork. Why spend money advertising your jogging strollers when there have been 200 Google searches today in your zip code for baby bike seats? It’s a mistake not to leverage local IP, GPS, anonymous and consumer-provided data to enhance your marketing.

  • FACEBOOK AD CAMPAIGNS are an incredibly efficient way to reach customers and drive sales, on any budget. Placing ads next to stories from your clients’ family and friends is a subtle but powerful marketing tool.
    • Imagine creating eye-catching ads and timely offers that will be seen by all the people you want to target, based on their age, interests, location and more.
    • Using location-based targeting techniques, we can place a virtual fence around your retail store. If someone is on the Facebook app and within a certain radius of your store, we can place timely and relevant ads to drive awareness and foot traffic.

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  • GOOGLE PAID SEARCH CAMPAIGNS: If someone searches for “bike store” or “boat rentals” within proximity to your business, we can target contextual ads that appear next to the Google search results.
  • GOOGLE DISPLAY CAMPAIGNS: While the Search Network is connected with ads on the Google search results pages, the Google Display Network is a collection of outside websites that have partnered with Google as display partners. Google ads on the Display Network can be in text, image, video, or rich media format, and can be targeted differently.
  • GOOGLE RETARGETING CAMPAIGNS: One of the most powerful and cost-effective ways to drive leads and conversions from Paid Search. It is an efficient way to specifically retarget users who have interacted with your brand, making them the most qualified customer base you can target.
  • YOUTUBE PAID SEARCH CAMPAIGNS: Did you know that nearly 10 percent of all U.S. small businesses now use YouTube? With more than one billion users, it’s an advertising must. [Get the statistics]
    • Any video uploaded to YouTube can be an ad. Video ads appear before other videos on YouTube, next to playing videos and in search results.
    • “How To” style video ads are very effective when showcasing the assembly or use of a product.
    • Simply180 can maintain complete control over your daily budget, and plus, you only pay when someone engages with your ad. If they “skip it” before 30 seconds (or the end) you don't pay a cent.

We know, it sounds complicated. And maybe a little Big Brother. But picture more of a Big Sister, who is wise, helpful, and knows the ropes. Giving your customers exactly what they want is not invasive; it’s Simply smart business.

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