China’s new mobile shoppers ripe for location-based marketing

Timing is important in marketing, but so, increasingly, is location.

People served up targeted ads following a Web search at home, for instance, can end up judging those advertisements as needlessly invasive. But mobile ads aimed at customers near a store they’re interested in can boost sales significantly.

For example, the location-based marketing firm xAd reported a large increase in click-through rates for Columbia Sportswear after prospective customers received targeted, location-aware ads with an exclusive offer, driving directions and a map to the nearest store.

One market that appears especially ripe for such campaigns is China, where 58 percent of adults now own a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center.

As smartphone adoption in China has grown, so too has the use of mobile payments. In fact, eMarketer reported this past June that Chinese shoppers made more than twice as many mobile purchases with their phones in 2015 than they did in 2014. What’s more, a growing number of consumers in China are expected to use their smartphones for proximity-based payments over the next several years, eMarketer predicted.

This will open up significant new opportunities in China for location-based marketing, although the country still has some catching up to do compared to other markets, Campaign Asia-Pacific reported recently. Up until now, the publication said, developments in China have been slowed by inadequate media inventory, a “lack of open geographical data” and lagging location-data technology.

Citing Wei-Chong Khor, Carat China’s head of digital futures, Campaign Asia-Pacific noted that “the distance between online and offline purchases is ‘closer than ever’.”

One company that could be in a position to take advantage of that development, the publication added, is Getui, a Beijing-based company that provides push notifications for business customers and other organizations. Founded by CEO Fang Yi in 2010, Getui recently closed on a third round of investment funding totaling $108 million (US).

According to Fang, the company’s technology works by analyzing both “warm” and “cold” data from mobile phone users. (Warm data includes variable information like GPS-based location, while cold data includes more static information like gender and age.) By subjecting data from both types of sources to multi-dimensional analysis, Fang said, Getui seeks to identify “obvious precision marketing opportunities.”

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