Vacation Nation: Marketing to Summer Travelers

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eliportnoy"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Eli Portnoy, president at Thinknear by Telenav.

Summer. It’s a magical time of year when it’s a little easier to get away from work for a stress-free vacation. And no school or homework means that the family trip everyone has been looking forward to can finally happen.

For digital marketers, all the time consumers spend away from their desks and hometowns presents new opportunities. Travel to new locations can tell marketers about consumers and provide information that otherwise would not be available. Where we live and we travel paints a picture of who we are as consumers.

There are a few things to consider when deploying mobile campaigns between now and the summer’s end.

The Screens Are On, But Nobody’s Home

People take their smartphones everywhere with them, including – and especially – when they’re on vacation. So while phone behavior might show similar patterns, such as early morning email checking and late-night Facebooking, that doesn’t mean the context of that mobile use is the same. Mobile ads that are perfectly appropriate and relevant when a person is at home aren’t nearly as relevant when they are on vacation.

Think about what ads are relevant for vacationers: sunscreen in beach towns, museums, theaters and historical attractions in urban centers, hiking trails or camping supplies in the mountains or branded memorabilia near theme parks. Tuning ads to a region’s seasonal attractions is one easy way to target vacationers.

Not Everyone’s A Tourist

Being too liberal with this sort of region-specific targeting, however, ignores the fact that some people actually live in the places to which everyone else is traveling. These year-round residents don’t care about deals relevant to tourist destinations because they’re not tourists. But how do you know who is and isn’t a tourist?

While it’s easy for us to find out which mobile users are at Disneyland, it’s perhaps harder, but more important, to sort out who traveled there from Arizona and who’s an Anaheim local. Knowing that a person is hundreds or thousands of miles away from where she lives and works, based on device location, allows for better-targeted ads, served to a more engaged and accepting consumer. Location isn’t just about proximity targeting. It’s much more powerful and can be used to identify a relevant audience based on travel patterns and location history.

Accuracy Pays

Whether you’re targeting tourists or locals, it’s important that your data be extremely accurate. When it comes to mobile data, location tells us about the places a person visits, the types of things he finds interesting and the context of his current situation. That data has to be accurate for the campaign to make an impact.

Location is quickly becoming the glue that connects marketers with mobile users in ways previously not thought possible. Real-time and historical mobile data can open many opportunities. Marketers are only limited by their creativity and the quality of data.

Follow Eli Portnoy (@eportnoy), Thinknear (@Thinknear) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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